June 21st was the date that music venues and festivals have been eagerly awaiting for some time now. However, plans to reopen took another blow after further delays were announced by the government.
Following an increase in COVID-19 variant cases, Boris Johnson announced with just one week’s notice that the return to normality would be pushed back once more to July 19th. An already beleaguered live music industry responded to the news saying that “the clock is ticking” and support must be announced as soon as possible to avoid catastrophe.
Monday’s news of further delays has resulted in the cancellation of over 4000 gigs in England alone, culminating in losses of around £36million on top of all the previous hits incurred throughout the pandemic.
In response to mounting pressure from the music industry for an outline regarding moving forward and covering costs, a DCMS spokesman told NME: “We understand a delay to full reopening is challenging for live events, and we will be helping our creative industries through it.”
Adding: “We have made £2 billion available through the biggest arts funding package in history and the final funding round of £300million will be announced shortly. Clubs and venues have also benefited from restart grants worth £18,000 each, and there’s nearly £1 billion available in further discretionary grants local authorities still have to pay out.”
Before concluding, “The furlough scheme and VAT cut is in place until September and eligible businesses will also continue to benefit from business rates relief of 75 per cent over the year.”
Fortunately, despite the delay Association of Independent Festivals CEO Paul Reed, believes that “93% of UK festival over 5000 capacity” will still be able to go ahead but not without insurance measures in place.
While The Music Venue Trust has pressed home the importance that government funding is distributed swiftly and plans are announced immediately to ensure there are no further “delays and bureaucracy that has beset previous rounds of this fund”.
Adding: “The decision to continue to limit cultural activities as a specific and extraordinary measure which, it is stated, will contain the spread of the Delta variant stands in stark contrast to how the government is approaching restrictions and containment overall.”
Earlier this year we contacted renowned grassroots venue The Adelphi in Hull, who told us: “The Adelphi, like most small independent venues across the country, is always at financial breaking point even at the best of times… We’re a determined bunch here, and resilience is par for the course when it comes to being from Hull. At times, we’ve had to dig deep, but it’s in the blood, highly addictive and bloody, brilliantly rewarding. There was no way we were just going to sit back and give up.”
Let’s hope their patience is rewarded swiftly and with permanence and insurance as quickly as possible to help save our beloved live music industry.