London has seen an amazing renaissance of live music in the last couple of years and the Govt & Mayor have taken many of our suggestions on board. However, Corona virus is a very clear and present danger and threatens to stop this in its tracks. There are three main areas that are being hit
1. Venues and promoters. People are not going out, so money is not being spent. Rent and staff costs still have to be met. Unexpected expenses are being incurred and whilst some of these will be met by insurance payments, these often take a considerable amount of time to resolve
2. Artists and bands are seeing a huge interruption to income streams. Most have little contingency for this. Costs have been incurred and not all of these are recoverable.
3. Freelance support staff, casual workers and zero hours bar staff etc are not getting paid. Many will be hit by huge tax payments due in June for self assessment payments.
Whilst the virus will pass, the dent in the income may completely derail the fragile recovery we’ve seen. The campaign will be calling for serious action to address this from the local and national government. Music is a huge part of the UK economy generating £5.2 million last year. The government needs to urgently allocate funds to support all of these sectors, to ensure that when the epidemic passes, we still have a viable live music scene in London.
We are calling for the following measures to be available.
- The Government and London Mayor to establish a hardship fund to assist artists, staff and freelancers who have seen income disappear due to cancellation of events.
- Deferral of the second payment of Self Assessment of income tax, due in June for all workers affected by the Corona virus. We would like to see the 2020 payment spread over the next five years
- Grants available to venues and promoters to tide them through the worst period of the crisis. We would suggest that this is set at a level to cover any shortfall in paying staff, rent and utility bills.
- As many venues may be closed during the worst of the epidemic to the general public, grants to be made available to assist with any urgent safety or infrastructure works. This will mean that the venues will be improved for the period when the epidemic passes. This will also provide work opportunities.
- Funds for mental health charities, to support artists affected by stress related to worries arising from the Corona virus.
- A hardship fund with emergency funds and loans to assist musicians, artists and promoters, hit by large, unexpected costs as a result of the virus. Whilst many organisations will be insured, there are often delays in receiving these payments, which cause terminal damage to the organisations finances.
The music industry contribute a significant amount to the UK economy, providing a serious amount of money for the UK treasury. It is time for the treasury to invest some of that money back into the sector, so that UK music industry is well placed to continue to thrive when the situation recovers.