Over 5,000 live shows risk cancellation if June 21 reopening deadline pushed back

Over 5,000 live shows are at risk of cancellation if the UK’s June 21 reopening deadline is delayed.

Doubts have been cast over the lockdown lifting date as the government has stressed caution amid a rise in the number of cases of the Indian (Delta) coronavirus variant.

New research published today (June 10) by LIVE, the live music organisation formed to tackle the unprecedented challenges deriving from Covid-19, has revealed that even a four-week delay to the government’s roadmap would cost the live music sector over £500million, with the summer festival season at risk of total collapse.

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Gigs by Rag’n’Bone Man, Rudimental, Olly Murs, Tom Odell and more are at risk of cancellation or postponement, which will incur immediate costs across the live music supply chain and further damaging an already fragile industry.

“The government has said it wants to protect the domestic unlock at all costs, but delaying the roadmap leaves us in limbo – unable to proceed with plans and enjoy our summer at home, forced to abandon large scale events that the public are so looking forward to after a year of cancellations,” said Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE.

The government’s Events Research Programme findings, which have been helped on by pilot scheme events like the BRIT awards, concerts and raves in Liverpool, have been widely reported as showing that with screening, improved ventilation and other mitigating factors, mass events can be as safe as a trip to the supermarket.

The live music sector is now calling for the government to publish this data in full so that it is able to follow its own science, and allow the live events sector to adapt to a “new normal” where it is able to deploy precautions to allow events to take place safely as the coronavirus threat reduces.

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Tom Ogden of Blossoms performs at a non-socially distanced outdoor live music event in Liverpool on May 2, 2021. CREDIT: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

“By its own evidence from the Events Research Programme, as we saw at both the BRITs and in Liverpool, large scale events can happen safely with the right precautions in place,” Parmley continued.

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“The government must now follow its own science if it is to avoid the decline of the UK’s world-leading live music industry, which absolutely cannot afford to miss out on another summer of cancelled events after a year on pause.”

A press release from LIVE read: “The live music sector is ready to restart, having invested time, money, and resources in the precautions required to make events safe. Venues and festivals are equipped to carry out events safely and to a high standard as soon as the government gives the green light.

“Any delay to the June 21 reopening date will have significant and immediate repercussions, including 248 grassroots music venues that would face an immediate threat of eviction without a comprehensive response from the government that fully addresses their financial losses from delayed reopening.”

“In the event of any delay to reopening, government action to restore confidence to the sector will need to be swift, decisive and comprehensive,” said Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust. “Any decision to delay places the sector in the most perilous and uncertain situation since April 2020. All that has been done by the government, the public, artist and communities to save our venues risks being undone.”

The UK’s summer festival season would also see significant casualties, with 65 per cent of all AIF member festivals saying they will be forced to cancel if faced with a five-week delay – and 21 per cent already gone.

According to a LIVE press release, a delay to the live music industry, which supports 210,000 full-time equivalent roles, as well as over 90,000 freelancers, would affect hundreds of thousands of livelihoods.

It would also “have a ripple affect across the industry – grassroots venues will no longer be able to host early talent, communities will miss out on local events, concerts and tours will be paused up and down the country, and for many festival organisers, the much-loved British summer season will be called off for a second year”.

Meanwhile, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has vowed to challenge the UK government if the remaining coronavirus restrictions are not lifted on the provisional date of June 21.

The NTIA have said it will pursue legal action if night time economy venues – many of which have been shuttered for over 15 months – do not reopen on June 21.

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