UK music stars call for cash to save live music industry

Coldplay and The Rolling Stones are among the bands that signed a petition pleading for British government aid to save festivals

Ed Sheeran is among the British music stars to back the petition asking government help for the live music industry following the coronavirus pandemic. Getty
Ed Sheeran is among the British music stars to back the petition asking government help for the live music industry following the coronavirus pandemic. Getty

Ed Sheeran and Sir Paul McCartney are among 1,500 figures from the UK music industry calling for government financial aid to prevent thousands of job losses with live concerts unlikely to return until next year at the earliest.

A petition and open letter to British Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has been signed by stars including The Rolling Stones, Sam Smith, Liam Gallagher, Coldplay, Little Mix and Eric Clapton.

It warned of mass insolvencies after major festivals including Glastonbury were changed to online only events.

"With no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak,” said the open letter.

“Until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry.”

The music sector supports 210,000 jobs in the UK, according to research by a consultancy published with the letter. It said the live music industry added £4.5 billion (Dh20.7bn) to the economy in 2019.

The letter was accompanied by a Twitter campaign with bands, fans and production companies posting films and photographs of their last gigs under the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay.

The letter asks for a clear, conditional timetable for reopening venues without social distancing, a comprehensive business and employment support package, and VAT exemption on ticket sales.

Liam Gallagher, the former Oasis frontman, said: "Amazing gigs don't happen without an amazing team behind the stage, but they'll all be out of jobs unless we can get back out there doing what we love.”

Emily Eavis, who organises Glastonbury, said that venues and festivals were facing desperate financial challenges.

“If the Government doesn't step up and support the British arts, we really could lose vital aspects of our culture for ever,” she said.

Mr Dowden, the culture secretary, tweeted: "I understand the deep anxiety of those working in music and the desire to see fixed dates for reopening. I am pushing hard for these dates and to give you a clear road map back.

"These involve very difficult decisions about the future of social distancing, which we know has saved lives."

Updated: July 2, 2020 04:58 PM

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