The live sector finally has some good news with the reopening of venues in England this month.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed the plan to allow Covid restrictions to be lifted on July 19 (you can see the full reaction below). The industry is now awaiting news on an insurance scheme for festivals that would be backed by the government.
Following the government’s announcement, nightclubs and other venues with large crowds will be encouraged to use vaccine passports. Using the NHS app, these would allow people to show they have had both vaccinations, a negative test result or have natural immunity after recovering from Covid-19.
In guidance published after PM Boris Johnson’s Downing Street press conference, the government said it "reserves the right" to make certification mandatory in certain venues in future. A decision is set to be made today on whether restrictions in Scotland can be eased as planned in the weeks ahead.
To coincide with the announcement on the end of restrictions in England, PwC is forecasting strong growth in the UK’s live sector over the years ahead - but it’s not expected to return to pre-Covid levels until 2025.
According to PwC's Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2021-2025, live music revenue will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17% over the next four years.
In 2021, PwC forecasts live music revenue will grow to £846 million after falling to £225m in 2020. By 2025, live music revenue is forecast to be worth £1.56 billion, almost as much as it was worth pre-covid in 2019 (£1.58bn).
Mark Maitland, UK head of Entertainment and Media at PwC, said: “UK consumers’ rapid migration to digital behaviours in the pandemic has now become embedded in their day-to-day lives, helping to sustain overall growth across E&M [Entertainment & Media] for the coming five years. As companies race to meet consumers’ evolving needs with new products, services, and experiences, the E&M industry will become more pervasive, more immersive and more diverse.
“Some sectors have found interesting ways to navigate the effects of the pandemic – notable examples include B2B events moving to online/virtual and now increasingly hybrid formats. However, sectors such as live music have struggled to go virtual, as it’s so difficult to replicate the in-person experience online. So there’s pent-up demand in those sectors ready to be released as lockdown ends.”
Industry reaction to reopening of live
Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE
“Today is a fantastic day for live music - our members cannot wait to get back out there and put on the events safely that our fans have been missing this past year. While we have been waiting for this moment for the past year, commercial insurance is still not available – meaning organisers are faced with the prospect of huge financial losses should any restrictions need to change. If government really wants us to get back on our feet, they need to make live events financially viable, provide the insurance scheme they have promised, and give the industry the confidence to invest for the long term.”
Mark Davyd, CEO, Music Venue Trust
“Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes the decision to permit grassroots music venues in England to open at full capacity from 19 July. For the last 12 months, we have been working tirelessly alongside venue operators to identify ways in which they can Reopen Every Venue Safely. That work remains at the forefront of everyone's minds, but today we want to reach out to live music fans and send them a simple message: It's finally time to Revive Live. Please help your local venue in England to provide safe events by thinking about your personal responsibility, the things you can do to ensure that as well as keeping yourself safe you are also doing everything you can to support the safety of others. We have all been desperately seeking the opportunity to Revive Live Music, and to show that we can do that safely. Let's take this opportunity and demonstrate that we are a community that cares about each other.”
Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals
“We welcome the Health Secretary’s confirmation of progressing to Step 4 of the lockdown roadmap. Government have repeatedly stated that once we are at this stage, it will examine if insurance is still an issue for events and intervene if necessary. We are now one week away from this date and the sector needs a long overdue resolution to this problem. AIF is also working with the relevant government departments on the publication of guidance to ensure that festivals can reopen safely this summer, and organisers and local authorities alike can have confidence in their decision making and measures introduced - including Covid certification where considered appropriate. Ensuring the safety of audiences and risk mitigation has always been central to what festival organisers do each year and it will continue to be more so than ever as we begin to emerge from the pandemic."
Steve Heap, General Secretary of The Association of Festival Organisers
“The Association of Festival Organisers is delighted to hear the Secretary of State tell the house that the government has no plans to start charging for lateral flow tests. Whilst we are of course also very pleased the government will take us to step 4 on July 19. However in order to save the last few events of the 2021 season we must have the necessary guidance immediately as festivals are trying to meet the required regulations at very short notice.”
David Keighley, Chair of the Production Services Association
"It is great news to hear that finally the government has confirmed the easing of restrictions on July 18. The success of the vaccination roll out has been the key factor in making the move to step 4 possible. Ironically we see very large increases in Covid cases at this time but if the vaccines mean the number of serious cases and hospitalisations remain relatively low, then it is right to open up our economy. Let’s all hope this remains the case in the coming months. There is still a level of uncertainty and we all need to be cautious throughout the summer and particularly moving into autumn.”
Michael Kill, CEO, NTIA
“The decision to go ahead with reopening on July 19 is the correct one. After 16 months of crippling restrictions, businesses in the night time economy are ready to play our part in the safe reopening of society. Today should mark the beginning of nightlife’s long journey to rebuild itself.
“There are some important hurdles ahead for our sector, including changes to the isolation rules which have the potential to throw the recovery off course, but for those businesses that have made it this far in the pandemic, I feel confident that the sense of community and togetherness the sector has shown to this point will help us overcome these challenges.”
”We look forward to the government providing more guidance for business owners - this should be practical and easy to navigate. But from today's statement we can say that the government are right not to mandate the use of Covid status certification systems. Much of the night time economy relies on spontaneous consumers, and by permitting businesses to opt out, the government have allowed for this trade to continue.”
“Representing a sector that has shown such resilience in the face of adversity has been humbling for me personally – and I think now we can say, with more confidence than at any point previously during the pandemic, that better days lie ahead.”