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(Credit: Ryan Arnst)


Grassroots music sector on the brink of collapse again

UK Prime Minister Boris John announced the decision to move to Plan B in England last week. The measures were put in place in the hope of stemming the spread of the new Omicron variant. However, on Tuesday night (December 14th), MPs voted on the restrictions, needing the support of the Labour party, as 98 Conservative MPs voted against plans for mandatory Covid passes at large venues in England. 

As of Wednesday, December 15th, the new measures were put in place. This meant that live concert attendees, whether it be a gig or nightclub, will need to show proof of double-vaccination or a negative PCR/lateral flow test which has been recieved within 48 hours prior to the event. 

Sky News has reported that the new regulations apply to unseated venues with a capacity of more than 500 people, outdoor venues hosting more than 4,000 people, and any event with over 10,000 attendees. 

It was reported on Wednesday that almost 40% of ticket holders aren’t showing up to events because of fears about Covid-19. Now, a new survey undertaken by the Music Venue Trust has found that grassroots music venues will be the hardest hit by the new measures. It says that these venues are “back on red alert for the risk of permanent closures” following Plan B and the Omicron variant ripping through much of the population. The sector has reported losses of nearly £2 million since the start of last week. 

The survey found that over 86% of grassroots music venues have seen a negative impact since last week. There’s been an exponential rise in no-shows, averaging around 23.1%. It was estimated that 142,772 ticket holders didn’t actually attend the shows. Over 60% of venues reported cancelling at least one event last week due to a performer or crew member testing positive for Covid. 

Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd said, “It feels like we are back exactly where we were in March 2020, when confusing government messaging created a ‘stealth lockdown’ – venues apparently able to open but in reality haemorrhaging money at a rate that will inevitably result in permanent closures unless the government acts quickly to prevent it”.

“We have been here before,” Davyd explained. “This time the government already has all the tools in place that it needs to manage this impact and prevent permanent closures in the grassroots music venue sector. The Culture Recovery Fund can be swiftly adapted to mitigate this economic impact, the money is already there and waiting, we just need the Secretary of State to act quickly.

“The government previously used Business Rate suspension and VAT cuts to support and sustain the sector. We don’t need to spend time considering the situation; the government already knows what can be done and can choose very quickly to do it.”

Watch an explanation of the new rules below.