Live Music

LIVE group demands government action as it publishes first Music Manifesto

Image by Gabriel Doti from Pixabay

The UK’s LIVE trade group has called on the government to “supercharge” the sector as it published its inaugural music manifesto ahead of next week’s Autumn Statement.

LIVE has delivered a series of solutions designed to “unleash the sector’s potential” ahead of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s flagship statement on November 22. LIVE Music Manifesto 2023 includes five crucial priorities aimed at safeguarding grassroots music venues and unlocking the economic potential of the wider live music sector.

The group said the industry is dealing with issues such as well-intentioned but ill-formed legislation on safety at venues, an internationally uncompetitive and unfair system of VAT and business rates and barriers to international touring, and ticketing issues.

LIVE reiterates rates relief call

Top of the manifesto list is the provision of urgent financial support, including an extension to grassroots music venues business rates relief and wider hospitality and leisure relief.

The manifesto also calls for a rethink of the Martyn’s Law bill on safety at venues. LIVE said the legislation must ensure any new measures are practical and protect lives. The body recently said the bill’s “excessive penalties… would create existential risk for live music venues.”

LIVE also called for the removal of barriers for UK artists to tour internationally, including by introducing a cultural visa waiver for creative workers touring in the EU. Government should also bring UK ticketing regulations into line with other progressive music markets, and accelerate the sector’s transition to net zero through funding and information provision. Here’s the manifesto in full…

Live music’s voice must be heard ahead of election

Jon Collins, CEO of LIVE, said: “The LIVE Music Manifesto launched today presents a huge opportunity for our political leaders to supercharge a cultural and economic powerhouse. It is estimated that for every 10,000 people at a gig in the UK, there is an additional £1m spent in other local businesses including restaurants and bars, transport networks, shops, and hotels. It’s crucial that the voice of the live music sector is heard at the next General Election.

“Simple interventions, like the extension of the business rates relief and a return to lower VAT to bring the UK into line with international competitors would transform the sector. There are also grave risks to inaction.

“We need to wake up to the reality that the grassroots venues where artists like Ed Sheeran and Adele honed their craft are closing at an alarming rate. We need urgent action from government now, or we risk losing out on future generations of British superstars.”

UK’s live music worth £5.2bn

LIVE said the UK’s live music sector generated £5.2bn in 2022 and the summer of 2023 showcased the post-pandemic resurgence with a range of huge festivals, stadiums, and arena shows selling out around the country. It said that despite this resurgence in parts of the sector, the grassroots music industry has continued to face “an unprecedented period of challenge”.

LIVE said it worked closely with the Government during the pandemic to progress the cut to VAT on tickets and the Cultural Recovery Fund. However, it said this support has not been sustained “despite the effects of the pandemic being compounded by Brexit, the cost-of-living crisis, and increased costs across the supply chain”.

AIF backs new £5m fund

The manifesto was published after the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) unveiled a new £5m Supporting Grassroots Music Fund. Announced on Monday, the fund will be delivered by Arts Council England and support for the grassroots music sector.

Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) chief executive John Rostron today gave his backing to the plan.

He said: “We welcome the move by DCMS and Arts Council England to create this new Supporting Grassroots Music Fund that recognises the importance of independent festivals and offers financial support to applicants of up to £40,000.

“It remains a challenging time for independent festivals. 1 in 6 festivals did not make it through the pandemic. A further 36 cancelled in 2023. High supply chain costs and a cost of living crisis continue to put pressure on independent festival operators. This support is very much welcomed by all of our AIF member festivals in England in order to advance their events.

“We want to thank DCMS and ACE for open and regular engagement with us about the independent festival sector. We look forward to supporting our members with applications and monitoring the success of this new scheme.”