There's been a mixed response to the government’s roadmap for guiding the UK out of lockdown announced on 22nd February. A sense of hope was tangible (and a little bit of sunshine helped), as we were given some indication of the time frames that will allow us out of the house and back to business.The roadmap puts a “not before date” of May 17 for live events and states that there will still be requirements for limited capacity and social distancing. This means that it is likely that June 21 will be the earliest date that the sector could look to return to any form of normality.
UK public responds to the gov’s roadmap as festivals sell out
The people have spoken! They want to get together and they want to have fun - just look how quickly this summer’s festival’s have sold out!
Live Nation sold nearly 200,000 tickets to UK festivals in a week since the government’s roadmap announcement. Although Brighton’s beloved Great Escape will be online this year and Glastonbury has already announced its cancellation, many other festivals are going ahead.
Creamfields was the first UK festival to announce a sell-out - becoming its fastest-selling show to date. The Leeds and Reading festival has sold out, and the Isle of Wight festival has cautiously pushed its date back to September from June. Camp Bestival in Dorset is also going ahead with curator Rob da Bank “counting down” the minutes, hours and days to the event!
The Live Events Industry responds
Music Week spoke to a number of professionals in the live music industry who had the following to say about the road map:
Mark David, CEO, Music Venue Trust
“It is good to hear the government provide conditions under which initially socially distanced events, and then fuller capacity events, can take place. Based on this information, it is now possible to imagine how we ‘Revive Live’ in grassroots music venues and develop that work into the full return of our domestic music scene. We note that this roadmap once again singles out live performance events as a specific risk which require that the sector is treated in a special way.
"We warmly welcome the government's acknowledgement of the value of nightlife, committing to not reinstating a curfew and including nightclubs within the reopening timetable.”
Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE
“While it is good to get some clarity following almost a year of confusion, as predicted our £4.5 billion industry is at the back of the queue to reopen. Any return to normality for live music could be months behind the rest of the economy. The Chancellor must acknowledge our extended closure in the Budget and provide the economic support needed to ensure the jobs and livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of people that work in our industry exist as we come through this pandemic.
“We need the government to commit urgently to an extension of the 5% VAT rate on ticket sales and employment support that reaches all those unable to work due to the restrictions. To reopen, the sector needs a government-backed insurance scheme to allow shows to go ahead when it’s safe to do so, and with venues shuttered across the UK, an extension of business rates relief would be both fair and necessary.”
Insurance Schemes Assurances needed for Events
There has been a loud call for assurance from the government in regards to insurance schemes that will allow live events, festivals, and other events to go ahead. In a statement, the APPG for Events – led by Theresa Villiers MP – welcomed the publication of a roadmap but required further clarification from the DCMS and Treasury.
“As we have previously advocated, the introduction of a Government-backed insurance scheme, as has been initiated by several other countries, would provide increased confidence and security to allow live events to return safely and viably. We therefore urge the Government to implement this as quickly as possible.
“The events sector urgently needs additional clarity on reopening and critical targeted financial support from the Government to ensure that events of all kinds can resume safely, that this vital £80 billion world class industry is protected and that events can continue to support the economic recovery that our country so desperately needs, and we look forward to working in partnership with the Government, and the wider events sector, in achieving our shared objectives.”
Other live music professionals respond:
UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: “The prospect of there being no legal impediments to live music events means issues like insurance are now even more pressing. They now present one of the final barriers to getting events going this summer.
“The industry has worked tirelessly with the government to explore testing, better ventilation and many other innovative solutions to help lift the pause button, which has crippled our industry for the past year.
“We will now continue to work with the Government on pilot schemes to ensure a safe, consistent and successful approach to getting live music back in our communities as soon as possible.”
AIF CEO Paul Reed said: "We welcome the Prime Minister's roadmap out of lockdown, presented to the House Of Commons this afternoon, and are optimistic that many of our member festivals may be able to go ahead in some capacity later on this year. There are still, however, some urgent points of clarity that need to be made around the exact requirements that festival organisers will need to meet, in particular around testing and Covid certification.
“We look forward to engaging closely with government on the Events Research Programme, and again stress that we are rapidly approaching the decision on a cut-off point for the vast majority of festivals at the end of March. If a complete picture is not given by this time, it will be too late for many to stage events later in the year.”
A spokesperson for the EIA said, "The inclusion of events in the latter stages of the reopening roadmap is a welcome development and we are confident that we will be able to further demonstrate our ability to deliver Covid-secure events in the pilot the government has announced."
They concluded, "But in his Budget, Rishi Sunak must provide targeted support for the exhibitions sector to save it from total collapse. Event industry businesses need support for as long as restrictions are in place, a clear roadmap to reopen, and a government-backed insurance scheme otherwise devastating job losses and business failures are coming."
What the Budget means for the Events Industries
In the Spring budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has vowed to "protect the jobs and livelihoods of the British people" as the UK emerges from the pandemic. He has extended furlough until September, paying up to 80% of people’s wages - but he also announced plans to increase the tax on large company profits from 2023, in his Budget speech.
Also included was the announcement that 600,000 more self-employed people will become eligible for government help, as access to grants is widened.The chancellor also began the process of balancing the UK's books. The headline rate of corporation tax will go up from 19% to 25% in 2023, with an exemption for smaller businesses. This will eventually raise £17bn a year, according to Treasury forecasts. Other announcements relevant to the events industry include:
- £408m for museums, theatres and galleries in England to help them reopen when Covid restrictions ease
- £300m summer sports recovery package
- VAT rate for hospitality firms to be maintained at reduced 5% rate until September
At time of publishing there as no further news on government backed insurance for the industry as hoped.
Liveforce founder Greg Lusk looks positively to the future
Like most event suppliers, Liveforce has also had to weather the effects of COVID. We're committed to helping event agencies, and the industry as a whole, bounce back by extending discounts to use the platform. More, importantly, and something we are really excited about, are some ideas we've been working on to help event freelancers and crew. They are the power behind events, and we ant to help get them back to work as soon as possible...more info to come soon!"