UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin is urging Boris Johnson to include live music in his roadmap out of Covid-19 restrictions to save jobs and help music drive the UK’s post-pandemic recovery.
His call came ahead of the Prime Minister’s expected announcement on Monday (February 22) on how the government plans to ease lockdown and reopen the economy in the weeks ahead.
The pause on live for almost a year has put thousands of jobs at risk in the music sector, which provides work for 200,000 people and contributes £5.8 billion a year to the UK economy.
Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said the Prime Minister should use his roadmap to give the live music industry the “urgent clarity” it needs due to plan for summer and save thousands of jobs that are “at risk of being lost forever”.
His call comes at a time when hospital admission and Covid-19 cases are falling swiftly and amid predictions that every UK adult could receive both vaccine jabs by August.
He also stressed that while the live music sector was effectively prevented from operating it was vital that government financial support continued, especially given three quarters of those who work in the industry are self-employed freelancers.
Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: “We are fast reaching a critical point for the live music industry. If festivals and large events are forced to cancel for another year, many will go under and thousands of jobs are at risk of being lost forever. We are not asking to reopen a moment before it is safe to do so, but if our sector is to survive through this pandemic then we require urgent clarity about the months ahead and some indication of when live music will be able to return.
“We have done a huge amount to reduce the risk of Covid transmission by working with the government to develop safe working practices, engaging on testing pilots and by looking at all possible options to make festivals and venues as safe as possible. What we need now is a laser-like focus from the Government on how we can work together to get live music back as swiftly and safely as possible.
“A restart date for live music would be hugely welcome. The long lead time involved in planning festivals and other events makes this crucial. At the very least, we need clarity about the conditions under which we would be allowed to get live events under way again.”
Live music brings massive economic benefits right across the country
Earlier this week, Johnson suggested that rapid lateral flow tests could help venues reopen.
“Rapid testing has huge potential to bring back large events safely, and could also help in the fight against the virus,” said Njoku-Goodwin. “If government still sees mass testing as a means of keeping case rates down, then live events could act as a driver for mass testing take-up, especially among young people.”
While there are signs of optimism about infection rates, Njoku-Goodwin said the live sector needs a clear plan for the easing of restrictions.
“The vaccination rollout has been a huge success and case rates are going in the right direction – but without certainty about when live music will be allowed to operate again, many businesses and organisations in our sector and the wider supply chain will struggle to survive,” he said. “When the time for the post-pandemic recovery comes, the UK's world-leading music industry can be a key part of our country's economic and cultural revival.
“Live music brings massive economic benefits right across the country, often to communities where they are crucial to local employment and trade by creating extra business for hotels, taxi firms, restaurants, bars and many more. But for us to play that positive role in the post-pandemic recovery, and help provide the economy with the shot in the arm it will desperately need, our industry requires urgent clarity on the likely road ahead.”