Music Venue Trust responds to DCMS plan for phased return of live sector

Music Venue Trust responds to DCMS plan for phased return of live sector

The Music Venue Trust has called for a full timetable for the return of live music and financial support.

It follows criticism of a new plan from the government for live music and theatre, which has neither a timeframe nor details of funding for venues affected by the pandemic.

Live music was excluded from the list of leisure and culture activities that are allowed to resume on July 4 under a “one-metre plus” social distancing rule.

After UK Music called for a timetable on the return of live music, the DCMS announced a five-stage roadmap for a phased return. 

The first two stages – rehearsal and training, and performances for broadcast and recording – can resume now. The five stages of the government roadmap are:

-  Stage One - Rehearsal and training (no audiences and adhering to social distancing guidelines)

-  Stage Two - Performances for broadcast and recording purposes (adhering to social distancing guidelines)

-  Stage Three - Performances outdoors with an audience plus pilots for indoor performances with a limited distance audience

-  Stage Four - Performances allowed indoors/outdoors (but with a limited distanced audience indoors)

-  Stage Five - Performances allowed indoors/outdoors (with a fuller audience indoors)

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "I am determined to ensure the performing arts do not stay closed longer than is absolutely necessary to protect public health." 

But venues and culture organisations have suggested that without money or specific dates, the roadmap is of limited use.

“We have consistently told government that what the culture sector needs is the support to enable them to do what they do best,” said Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd. “We don't need guidance on how to organise creative activity and connect with audiences, this is what our venues do professionally. We need the money to survive the crisis and plan our own route back to full use.”

There has also been reaction across the industry. 

UK Music acting CEO Tom Kiehl said: “Music was one of the first sectors to get hit by the pandemic and could be one of the last to recover. A road map is welcome but we also need a timeline for when live performances can resume. Financial help in the form of sector specific support is increasingly needed to stop music businesses from going bust.”

Incorporated Society of Musicians CEO Deborah Annetts said: “It is welcome news that the government has now provided some detail on its plan for getting the performing arts back on their feet. Clarity on when each of the five phases can begin is urgently needed, so venues and performers can start preparing in the safest way possible.

“But the central issue remains the same: without considerable financial support and investment, music and the performing arts will suffer long-lasting damage from Covid-19. The government must expand the coverage of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, maintain its current furlough contributions, and accelerate discussions on a wider support package. Now is the time for a bold vision and firm action.”

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