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UK’s COVID-19 business loan scheme ‘not fit for purpose’ as music sector at risk

A survey by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has suggested the UK’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is “not fit for purpose” as music organisations continue to suffer from the live events blackout.

ISM, the UK’s professional body for musicians, found that none of the organisations who applied for the loan have received a ‘yes’ to their applications.

More than a third of respondents reported that if they do not receive financial support within as little as a week, they will need to make their entire workforce redundant, while over 25% said they are at risk of complete closure.

ISM, which supports approximately 10,000 musicians across the UK and Ireland, discovered none of the music businesses and organisations that completed the survey reported a successful application to the CBILS scheme. It said almost half of the respondents are still waiting to hear the outcome of their application, despite some having applied in March.

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the ISM said: “The results of the ISM’s latest flash survey demonstrates that the CBILS scheme is not fit for purpose and is putting the music sector at significant financial risk.

“COVID-19 has already had a devastating impact on the music sector with many venues and theatres having closed their doors, festivals and concerts being cancelled and many of the music workforce having lost work overnight. The music sector will feel the long-lasting effects of this crisis even when the lockdown is lifted, as it is unlikely that normal activities will resume, particularly if social distancing rules are still in place and mass gatherings are not permitted.”

An earlier ISM survey in April revealed 83% of respondents said that COVID-19 was having a significant negative impact on their business or organisation with over a third at imminent risk of failing due to the current crisis.

In a separate survey in April by the UK’s Creative Industries Federation, it was reported that more than 40 per cent of creative businesses in the UK estimate that they have lost 100 per cent of their income due to the live events blackout.

Annetts continued: “The UK Government has overlooked the music sector and creative industries during this crisis but is providing financial support up to £10m to the fishing industry to prevent its collapse.

“The fishing industry contributes £1.4bn to the UK economy compared to the music industry which is worth £5.2 billion and together with the creative industries is worth £111.7 billion. The same financial intervention should be granted to the arts when it is clear how critical they are to the UK economy and its soft power.

“We thank all the organisations who responded to this survey. The ISM will continue to engage with Government on behalf of the sector to ensure sufficient support is given to all that desperately need it.”

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