Sadiq Khan has launched an emergency aid package for the cultural and creative industries in London, Spain’s Association of Musical Promoters has lashed out at the government’s plan for live events and IMPALA has laid out 10-step plan for recovery…

London’s cultural fund

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced a £2.3m emergency aid package for the cultural and creative industries, with a £450,000 donation going towards Music Venue Trust’s #saveourvenues campaign.

The fund will also support the LGBTQ+ Venues Forum, which will receive £225,000, while Creative Land Trust will see £1.5m to support artist workspaces and £150,000 will be given to the British Film Institute (BFI) in aid of independent cinemas.

Music Venue Trust (MVT) this week launched a new campaign #saveourvenues to raise money and awareness for the more than 500 grassroots venues under economic threat due to COVID-19.

Khan noted the “key role” cultural and creative industries play, but called on the government to provide a more comprehensive targeted aid package for the industry.

He said: “The coronavirus outbreak is having a significant impact on every aspect of life in London, and that includes our culture, creative industries and night-time economy.

“These industries are so important to the fabric of our city during the day and night, and they will play a key role in helping us to recover from this public health crisis.

“I’m pleased to be working together with the Music Venue Trust, the LGBTQ+ Venues Forum, the Creative Land Trust and the BFI to offer this emergency funding to those areas most at need, but we need the government to step forward and provide the comprehensive support this industry needs to protect its future.”

MVT’s Beverley Whitrick added: “Music Venue Trust works on behalf of grassroots music venues across the whole UK, but the greatest concentration of our members is in London. These venues are some of the most impacted by the current crisis because the costs of running a venue in London are so high.

“This funding from the mayor of London means that MVT will be able to increase the support on offer to each and every venue, dedicating invaluable human resources, specialist advice and financial assistance where other measures come up short – everything possible to sustain these venues so they can reopen in the future and host artists and audiences safely and professionally.”

Spanish live events

Spain’s Association of Musical Promoters (APM) has urged the government to declare a force majeure due to COVID-19 in order to protect the live music industry and allow it to act under the legal framework.

Spain announced a four-phase plan to lift its strict lockdown measures and return to a “new normality” by the end of June, with the vast majority of live music spaces being forced to start their activity with reduced capacity, which APM says “causes a dramatic decrease in income.”

The Spanish Council of Ministers, the main collective decision-making body of the government, is meeting on May 5 to approve measures for the cultural sector, with small cultural events of up to 200 people under social distancing rules to be allowed from May 11. From May 25, indoor concerts will reopen at a third of their usual capacity to a maximum of 50 people, with seated, open-air events to allow up to 400 people.

APM, which is the main representative of the live music industry in Spain, with its partners representing 80% of the country’s private promoters, said in a statement: “The opening of spaces with a drastic reduction in their capacity leaves thousands of companies dedicated to live entertainment legally and labour-free and seriously stigmatises the sector.”

The capacity restriction cannot be applied to a musical reality already built with expenses and income already calculated on dates prior to the state of alarm, APM states, adding: “It is unfeasible to hold mass events with a reduction in capacity, since neither the amount of production is covered.”

APM is calling for the Council of Ministers to recognise a force majeure situation in order to allow the possibility of suspension or postponement of musical events, as well as the relaxation of the consumer regulations in relation to refunds and vouchers, as has been developed in countries such as Portugal, Belgium, Germany and Italy, among others.

The association is also requesting the government adjust corporate tax law, adapt the temporary employment regulation (ERTE) by COVID-19 to include the music industry, and finally to adapt the State Financing Funds for COVID-19 to include the industry, in particular to SMEs and self-employed workers.

“The inaction of the government jeopardises the continuity of the festivals, concerts and tours that have given the Spain brand international prestige,” the AMP said after several meetings without active response with the Minister of Culture and Sport, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes.

IMPALA

European independent music trade body IMPALA has laid out a 10-step roadmap for member states to support the recovery of the cultural and creative sectors hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

The five-year recovery strategy, which has been designed to align with the EU’s revival plan, focuses on boosting investment, growth and jobs throughout the sector.

IMPALA has set out the first six steps to kick off this month and include recognising music and culture as priority sectors, co-ordinating de-confinement and mobility strategies across Europe, adopting a five-year state aid framework and boosting loans for small and medium businesses.

The final four steps range from September to January 2021, and include granting VAT holidays and longer-term measures, adopting national tax credit schemes, implementing EU copyright directive and reviewing tools to value music and culture properly.

IMPALA boss Helen Smith said: “As life across Europe gradually takes on some level of normality, a recovery timeline is needed for the cultural sectors.

“Coming out of the crisis will be challenging, and at the same time it is an opportunity for growth. The key is putting the right financial and non-financial tools in place to promote investment in creativity. Our roadmap is about acting now to build a recovery plan for the next five years and beyond.”

The roadmap suggestions rely on specific economic and political support from the EU itself and each member state government.

IMPALA chair Francesca Trainini, who has also been heading up IMPALA’s specific COVID-19 taskforce, added: “The contribution of music and culture to Europeans’ wellbeing is huge, on top of our economic value. This is why we need a long-term strategy and it’s time for the EU and member states to put in place ambitious sector specific plans focussed on recovery.”

Image: Martin Fisch