Written by: Keith Tully
The UK’s live music industry is facing a crisis that could result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs before the end of the year, it’s been claimed.
Live music events and performances have been almost entirely banned from taking place during 2020 due to Covid-19 and the numbers of people employed in the sector could be set to plummet if government support is not forthcoming.
At least that’s the perspective of lobby groups representing the industry, such as the Concert Promoters Association, which has said that most live music sector employment will only remain viable in the short term if external support can be provided.
“We were one of the first sectors to close and we will be one of the last to reopen,” said Phil Bowdery, chair of the association.
“We are currently in a catch 22 where we are unable to operate due to the government restrictions but are excluded from the extended Job Support Scheme as the furlough comes to an end.
“If businesses can’t access that support soon then the majority of our specialist, highly trained workforce will be gone.”
The government’s initial Job Support Scheme protected the employment of millions of people during the early months of the Covid crisis, with people in the live music sector among those being furloughed and paid not to work for a period of time.
However, that scheme closes at the end of October and is being replaced by a more targeted, less comprehensive employment protection initiative.
For live music venues, the situation could become financially devastating if they cannot operate profitably because of coronavirus restrictions but also cannot access government support because they have not been instructed to close down completely.
It’s feared that roughly 26,000 full-time positions and close to 150,000 freelance roles within the live music industry might soon be lost if the virus crisis goes on and those people aren’t able to access any direct government support.
The live music sector is estimated to have contributed around £4.5 billion to the UK economy in 2019 but revenues nosedived in 2020 as the pandemic made staging live events so much more difficult and, in most cases, logistically impossible.
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