Venues in the UK are preparing to open their doors again. But as owners from arenas to tiny clubs explain, the danger is far from over
Live music is in crisis. With no gigs since lockdown began on 23 March, most venues have seen their income drop to almost zero. The live music industry added £4.5bn to the UK economy last year, and provides 210,000 jobs, but with stages silent, up to 50% of the workforce are facing unemployment, a loss of skills the Music Venue Trust (MVT) describes as “catastrophic”.
In June, 1,500 stars ranging from Sir Paul McCartney to Dua Lipa launched the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign, calling for the government to rescue live music. Finally, on 5 July, the government announced a £1.57bn rescue package for the entire arts sector. An initial £2.25m was later distributed to 150 grassroots venues at imminent risk (MVT had asked for a £50m fund) and yesterday, Arts Council England announced a grants programme to distribute further funds from the overall pot, including for music venues. In mid-July the government announced that indoor gigs could resume on 1 August, with strict social distancing, but that decision has now been reversed.
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