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More than 550 UK venues back call for £50m in emergency aid

More than 550 UK grassroots venues have backed Music Venue Trust’s (MVT) calls for a £50m cash injection from the government to allow them to “hibernate” until October.

In an open letter to the government, MVT said attempting to reopen and bring live music back with the current public health guidelines in place is “economic folly which would be financially ruinous.”

The letter requests an immediate £50m support package, as well as a reduction on VAT on future ticket sales.

It states: “Public Health advice is clear. Singing is a high-risk activity. Dancing is a high-risk activity. Standing close to other people is a high-risk activity. Being in a confined space for a long period is a high-risk activity. These are the four pillars of the live music experience we offer in our venues.

“It is now time for the government to do the right thing. We are represented by Music Venue Trust, who have laid out a simple clear plan to the government of the support our sector needs to survive the next three months (July, August, September) and to recover in the future.”

It also assured the sector does not need permanent government intervention to exist, adding they are not asking to become “a subsidised drain on the public purse.”

Yesterday, theatres and concert halls were given the green light to reopen in England from July 4, though live performances will not be permitted due to concerns over transmission of COVID-19.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the news as part of a range of new measures, including confirming that the two-metre distancing rule will be dropped in favour of a “one-metre-plus” approach from July 4.

The live music industry in the UK, which generates £5.2bn for the UK economy and a further £2.7bn in export revenues, is facing a substantial loss of infrastructure, with 90 per cent of venues and festivals currently facing permanent closure.

MVT chief executive Mark Davyd has called for music venues to be “treated as a specific sector” to other businesses. Johnson said that individual working groups will be set up by a government cultural taskforce to look at the individual needs of businesses still not allowed to re-open.

Davyd told NME: “No amount of social distancing or any other daft measures that the government has come up with is going to make any difference.

“It’s completely pointless and the government needs to reset the parameters. The venues all agreed that they will not be open in July, August or September.

“The government needs to re-examine the public health guidelines, they need to think about whether venues can open if everyone within them is guaranteed not to have the virus, bringing in things like testing, temperature checks and infection-free zones. These things aren’t in place but may well be by October.”

Earlier this year, MVT launched its #SaveOurVenues campaign to prevent 556 independent UK venues from closure. It has temporarily saved over 140 of these venues after raising £2m.