UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin has written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, calling on him to provide urgent targeted financial support for the music industry following the impact of Omicron.
High rates of isolation among staff and musicians means many events have already been cancelled and while the Government is not formally cancelling events, the advice has been to the public to reduce social contact means audiences are not showing up, seeking refunds or no longer buying tickets in advance.
Live music industry body LIVE report a no-show rate of 27% at events in recent days. The Music Venue Trust (MVT) reports an average gross income decrease across venues of 27% between 6 December and 13 December 2021.
Beyond live events, recording studios have also received increased cancellations.
UK Music and its members are calling on the Government to provide a raft of support, which includes:
- Reintroduction of the 5% emergency VAT rate for live events and scrapping of the
planned VAT hike to 20% in April 2022
- Financial assistance for freelance musicians, artists and crew who make up around 70% of our workforce, as well as a furlough scheme for those impacted and in full-time employment
- Urgent short-term support to businesses to survive winter, including an extension of the Culture Recovery Fund to support organisations in January and February and short-term assistance should be offered to those organisations that may not benefit from VAT or business rate relief
- Maintain existing business rates exemptions and delay repayments.
- Ensure the Government’s Live Events Reinsurance Scheme covers the situation arising from Omicron and COVID-19 related cancellations in the form we are seeing now
UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said:
“While the Government is not formally cancelling events the nature of the messaging is appearing to advise people not to attend them.
“This messaging is clearly harming audience confidence at live music events and is tantamount to a lockdown in all but name for our sector, yet without any of the necessary financial support being made available to see us through this latest crisis.”
“Public health concerns and the safety of music workers and consumers are always paramount to the music industry.
“This is why our sector has spent the past 22 months adjusting to the threat of COVID-19 and ensuring our operational and working practices are as safe as possible to mitigate against the challenge of this highly transmissible virus.
“Through initiatives like the Events Research Programme, we have collaboratively worked with the Government to achieve the successful reopening of live events in 2021 and instil confidence in audiences as part of our post-pandemic recovery.
“The mitigations we have established as an industry mean that forced closure should not be necessary, as we have established protocols that enable us to operate safely.
“It is vital that we have the financial support that we need to survive this winter, so we can ultimately return to play a positive role in our nation’s recovery from this pandemic.”