The live sector has warned of the impact of the ongoing shutdown, with no reopening of venues in sight until 2021 under social distancing rules. Last week more than 1,500 artists backed an appeal to the DCMS and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden for urgent support.
The government has now unveiled a major package of support for the cultural sector, including UK venues, theatres, galleries, museums, independent cinemas and other cultural venues.
Music venues will be eligible for the new emergency grants – which make up the bulk of the package at £880 million – and loans, which total £270m. Further measures include targeted support for cultural institutions and construction.
The funding lifeline runs until April 2021, although there are concerns that the emergency support has arrived too late for some.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "This money will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat and support their staff whilst their doors remain closed and curtains remain down."
The government said the money "represents the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture" and will help venues "stay afloat while their doors are closed".
“I understand the grave challenges the arts face and we must protect and preserve all we can for future generations," said Oliver Dowden.
Speaking on Radio 4, Dowden said there were already measures in place to support freelancers.
While lockdown measures eased on the weekend (July 4) for bars and pubs, Dowden said that reopening for theatres was still “some way off”.
The full details of how the money will be divided among regions and sectors has yet to be confirmed, while the application process is also set to be unveiled.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI & BRIT Awards, said: “We are delighted that the government has recognised the special importance of the arts and creativity – including music - to our national life. We warmly welcome specific mention of our cherished music venues, and to support for the arts, which should also assist our classical music sector. The live music industry, and the artist community that it supports, has felt the full, devastating force of the Covid-19 emergency and grassroots venues urgently require support if the UK is to retain its exceptional local music scene and continue to produce world-beating artists. We look forward to further discussing how the funds will be allocated.”
UK Music acting CEO Tom Kiehl said: “A £1.57bn support package for the arts is a huge step forward and should be a lifesaver for many music venues. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and DCMS Minister Caroline Dinenage are to be warmly congratulated.
“The music industry was one of the first sectors to be hit by measures to tackle Covid-19. UK Music has long called for sector specific support to ensure live music can recover. Eligibility for grants and loans must be as broad as possible to ensure maximum take up from across the industry from those in desperate need of help. Those that don’t have a track record of public funding must also not be put at a disadvantage. We are seeking urgent talks with Arts Council England to discuss further.”
The funding was announced as Kiehl issued a rallying cry on behalf of the live sector.
Music Venue Trust chief executive Mark Davyd told the BBC it "warmly welcomes this unprecedented intervention into Britain's world class live music scene".
He added: "This fund provides the opportunity to stabilise and protect our vibrant and vital network of venues and gives us the time we need to create a plan to safely reopen live music."
Annabella Coldrick, CEO, Music Managers Forum, said: “After months of discussions, meetings and advocacy, culminating in the Let The Music Play campaign last Thursday, it feels that government has accepted the importance of art and culture to our society and economy. Obviously £1.57bn is a substantial sum of money, but we still need to see the full details of this package and how it will be allocated to reach those most in need. It is absolutely essential that funding stretches beyond cultural institutions and can equally benefit artists and their teams around the UK, many of whom have fallen through gaps in support despite seeing a complete collapse in their live income.”
AIM CEO Paul Pacifico said: “We’re delighted to see the Government recognise the importance of a sector-specific intervention for arts and culture, but we remain vigilant and will keep up pressure to ensure that much needed funds get to the whole spectrum of organisations that need them most. The Arts Council must take this unique opportunity to assess who it reaches and how, and AIM looks forward to being a positive contributor to that discussion.”
"I thank the government for listening and providing support to our music industry," said Roberto Neri, MPA chairman and UK Music director. "Arts and culture allow us to express our personalities and are vital to our wellbeing. £1.57bn is substantial and it is crucial we now work together to help all UK music sectors reopen and to protect jobs."
MPA CEO Paul Clements said: “I very much welcome and thank government for the £1.57bn support to the creative and arts sector, inclusive of our UK music industry. This is a really positive step, but not a silver bullet. It is a very welcome temporary aid, which will only prove valuable, if combined with an exit strategy which permits safe live performances returning for the general public to enjoy. At the moment no live events means no revenue and risk of extinction to so many venues. Until revenues begin to trickle through to performers, creators and all other contributors to live events, their livelihoods are terribly exposed. We need to work together to ensure the entire fabric of arts and culture is protected and to give us the best chance of maintaining being one of the finest exporters of talent the world over.”
Deborah Annetts, CEO of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, said: "We welcome this financial support targeted at our world-beating creative industries. We are delighted that the government has listened to the ISM and many in the arts sector who have been calling on the government to step in and save our venues. Museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues will be able to apply for emergency grants and loans while doors stay closed, helping staff that work there.
"Yet the vast majority of the near-200,000 people working in the music sector are freelancers and most of them have earnt nothing since March. While we are grateful to the government for the furlough and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), the SEISS must be extended past August, which is the last month the second grant payment covers. With no date for venues reopening, what will happen to musicians while they wait to be told that they can go back to work and perform in front of live audiences? Without additional and direct support for freelancers we risk a flood of talent leaving the industry. The government must urgently extent the SEISS, otherwise our talented musicians will face very hard times indeed."
Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, said: "The Announcement this evening by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport & HM Treasury to Invest £1.57 billion in our world-class cultural, arts and heritage institutions, including Live and Recorded Music Venues has been commended by the NTIA and the wider creative sector.
“This is an unprecedented commitment from the government and long-awaited financial support, which reflects the importance of the sector to the UK & Internationally. With many neighbouring European countries investing heavily in the Culture and Arts sector, the UK Government had been under mounting pressure to mimic the actions of their international counterparts.
“We will await further details of the announcement in the coming days to gain a greater understanding of the businesses which will benefit from this investment. We hope it will also include the vital supply chain businesses which are fundamental to the creative and cultural sector, of which the night-time economy businesses are very much a big part of. We also look forward to receiving updated guidance with regard to the phased return of the night-time economy sectors."
Caroline Norbury, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation and Creative England, said: “This unprecedented £1.57 billion investment is a seismic step forward. Our creative industries are teetering on the brink of cultural collapse – and this could be the game changer we need. The voice of the creative sector has been heard loud and clear by the government and we warmly welcome their response. This investment acknowledges the mission critical role that the UK’s creative industries will play in recovery and growth in all parts of the country.
“However while this support will rescue many, so much has changed during the pandemic; there won’t necessarily be an easy return to normal. It is particularly heartening to see the reference to supporting freelancers, who are a phenomenally important part of the creative industries ecosystem.
“But there will be so much more to do to ensure that our world-beating creative sector can thrive once more and as we move forwards through the challenging days and months ahead it will be crucial that the creative industries work together to reimagine all of our futures. I’m confident the creative industries will play a vital role in powering the UK out of the forthcoming economic crisis and this investment will help the creative and cultural sector to rise to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
Matt Griffiths, CEO of Youth Music, said: “News that the government will pump £1.57bn into struggling arts industries is welcome news – not least to the live music sector, where 50% of the workforce faces unemployment. But there are deep-seated issues in the industry, including a serious lack of diversity, that an injection of funding won’t fix. Long before the pandemic, we could say that the current music industry model was broken. For more than two decades at Youth Music, we’ve witnessed a stifling of young talent as career aspirations are cut short by unnecessary barriers and discrimination time and time again.
“This funding provides a sticking plaster, but in this period of economic transition, we must embrace a new industry model – one that promotes diversity and inclusion. We must use the upheaval and challenges of 2020 as a springboard to hit reset on the industry and open the doors to a more young people, who will need the industry’s full support to make a living from a career in music. This is why, in order to thrive post-pandemic, I urge the music industry to review and overhaul its recruitment policies; to reform entry-level roles; to end unpaid internships and becoming Living Wage Employers; and to build meaningful relationships with the music education sector and grassroots projects.”
Conservative chairman of the House of Commons culture select committee, Julian Knight MP, has called for a more targeted sector deal with possible tax breaks.
"We know that 1m social distancing doesn't work economically for most theatres and venues in the UK,” he said. “We ultimately need to have a means by which these organisations can open safely and gain the confidence of the public. We'll await further details in the guidance when it is published."