UK Music has called for “urgent clarity” on the impact of coronavirus on the music events industry, as the government advised people to avoid theatres, pubs and other venues but did not order a shutdown.
UK Music acting chief executive Tom Kiehl said the latest advice had triggered “huge uncertainty” for both the public and the industry about future events.
During a public address last night (Monday), Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government would no longer be “supporting” mass gatherings by using emergency workers.
He also advised people to avoid mass events such as concerts, theatres, pubs and clubs, but stopped short of an official ban, which could mean businesses are not able to claim compensation through insurance.
Kiehl said: “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 from government 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.
“The virus is having a catastrophic impact on the UK music industry and will threaten many jobs and businesses right across our sector.
“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.
“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.”
Grassroots music venues are already suffering a 27% downturn in attendances, according to the latest figures from the Music Venue Trust. The Association of Independent Festivals report that ticket sales for its members are down on average by 44% since the start of the pandemic.
Following the advice from the UK government, theatre’s in London’s West End have closed with immediate affect until further notice. In addition, UK Theatre said its 165 venues around the country would also close for the foreseeable.
Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre chief executive Julian Bird said: “Closing venues is not a decision that is taken lightly, and we know that this will have a severe impact on many of the 290,000 individuals working in our industry.”
Patrick Gracey, producer of Tom Stoppard’s latest play Leopoldstadt, said the prime minister “has just doomed an entire industry by telling people not to attend the theatre”.
He added: “By not enforcing a shutdown, production insurance will not apply so producers and shows will go bankrupt, and tens of thousands of people will be without pay.”
A petition has been launched to push the UK government to offer economic assistance to the events industry during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The number of signatories has already surpassed 125,700 and is increasing rapidly. As it has now surpassed the 100,000 threshold, Parliament will now consider the matter for debate.
Image: Chatham House