UK Music and the Association Of Independent Festivals (AIF) have rallied against a “lack of clarity” in Boris Johnson’s remarks on social distancing in the UK as the coronavirus continues to spread.
As the Prime Minister confirmed that coronavirus was spreading faster in London than elsewhere in the UK, he advised the public to stay away from bars, pubs, restaurants and theatres, but did not enforce an outright ban.
AIF CEO Paul Reed, stressed that health and safety of the public is a “top priority” and welcomed Government advice on social gatherings. However, Reed wants a clearer picture to be painted.
“AIF echoes wider industry calls for urgent clarity from Government on whether there will be a formal ban on events, when that might come into effect and which events will be impacted,” he said.
“The Prime Minister’s announcement amounts to a ban on live events and while we understand the measures taken, we also urge the Government to classify it as such. The lack of such clarification creates widespread confusion and greatly harms promoters' efforts to weather this unprecedented storm.
"Our members have already spent millions of pounds in non-recoupable costs and there is no safety net. We also call for immediate, decisive action to support these businesses and help minimise the lasting effects this crisis will have on the livelihoods of those working in the independent festival sector and beyond.”
A raft of cancellations contine to be announced, while Glastonbury unveiled additions to its line-up last week, with plans still in place to proceed.
Meanwhile, acting UK Music CEO Tom Kiehl, delivered a strongly worded message to Government following Johnson’s revelations that mass gatherings would no longer be “supported” by the emergency services.
The lack of clarification creates widespread confusion
Paul Reed, AIF
“Public safety remains the top priority for everyone involved in the UK music industry during this unprecedented health emergency,” Kiehl said. “However, the Prime Minister’s latest advice on mass gatherings has resulted in huge uncertainty and confusion over what exactly it will mean for the music industry.
“We need urgent clarity about what exactly these new changes will mean. The Government must spell out whether there will be a formal ban, when that might come into effect, which venues and events will be impacted and how long the measures will remain in place.”
Kiehl said coronavirus is having a “catastrophic impact” on the UK music industry and will threaten many jobs and businesses across the industry.
“As well as clarity, we need swift action from the Government to mitigate the immense damage and disruption this will cause to our music industry that is the envy of the world,” he said.
“Unless music businesses and venues get help fast to get them though this desperately difficult period, the sad reality is the vital businesses and much loved venues will go to the wall.
Vital businesses and much loved venues could go to the wall
“UK Music will continue to speak to Government and will be working with our members to do all we can to press for help and work towards getting our industry back on its feet as quickly as possible.”
Kiehl had previously written to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden with a plan to limit damage to the music business. He called for VAT ‘holidays’, further extension of business rates relief, helping the 72% of music professionals who are self-employed, compensation for cancellations and holding insurance companies to account.
Caroline Norbury, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation and Creative England, described Johnson’s statement as “a crippling blow” to creative industries in the UK.
“As the social distancing measures announced are only advisory, rather than an outright ban, we are deeply concerned that creative organisations and cultural spaces will find they are unable to claim compensation for the huge losses they will experience as a result of COVID-19,” said Norbury.
We are deeply concerned
Caroline Norbury, Creative Industries Federation
“Public safety remains the top priority for everyone in the creative sector. However, these measures have the potential to devastate the UK’s theatres, museums, cinemas, venues and other cultural spaces reliant on audiences, visitors and participation, as well as the huge array of creators and freelancers who work within these industries. For the sake of our £111.7 billion creative industries, it is vital that government puts in place support to ensure that our world-leading creative sector is able to survive Covid-19.”
Association of Independent Music (AIM) boss Paul Pacifico has also had his say on Johnson's statement.
Paul Pacifico, CEO of The Association of Independent Music (AIM) stated
“We all need to pull together to survive this current crisis, none of us can do this on our own. Boris Johnson has stated that Government is asking much more of us now than just to wash our hands," Pacifico said.
"In instructing the public not to turn up to our events, attend our concerts and gather to support our work, I hope the Prime Minister is going to do more than just wash his hands of the fantastic and vibrant UK music industry. He needs to urgently announce further measures to support the dynamic but fragile small businesses and self employed specialists that bring so much joy and fulfilment to us all and who will provide much needed comfort across WiFi, broadcast and airwaves during the coming time of social isolation.”
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