The Music Venue Trust has responded to this week’s additional funding support for UK hospitality & culture in light of the omicron covid variant with the following statement:
‘While we welcome any announcement from Treasury that recognises the very serious situation facing grassroots music venues, and other cultural and hospitality spaces, operators and staff, regrettably today’s announcement appears to be a woefully inadequate response to the reality of the position.
Through a local authority distribution process, the Treasury appears to be offering grassroots music venues up to £6,000 (if they meet certain criteria). This sum is intended to mitigate losses for an as yet unknown period in which business has not just fallen, it has completely collapsed. The minimum length of that period, regardless of any restrictions or limitations to business yet to be announced, is six weeks – you can’t simply turn the live music industry on and off like a desk lamp, and tours and events are already cancelled. Not just today, or tomorrow, but for the next three months.
Additionally, the Treasury has announced £30 million will be added to the Cultural Recovery Fund. Our initial response is that this funding seems bizarrely detached from reality. It is certainly completely inadequate to deal with the scale of the problem. We note that grassroots music venues, singled out by the government for specific restrictions since the very start of the crisis, are not even mentioned in today’s statement which once again focuses on ‘theatres, orchestras and museum’ who will be supported ‘through until March 2022’. This is despite DCMS having all the evidence they need that losses in the grassroots music venue sector alone will run to £22 million by the end of January, let alone the end of March 2022.
The damage is already done and there is no point pretending otherwise. At least £22 million in losses by the end of next month will hit already beleaguered and exhausted grassroots music venue operators. This level of new debt fundamentally undermines the entire ecosystem that is the bedrock of a £5 billion world leading music industry.
We are constantly being told that the Culture Recovery Fund will save the day. For this to be true, it needs to be adequately funded to match the challenges the government is trying to deal with.
Today’s statement by The Treasury is not the answer that is needed. The Secretary of State for Culture must meet with the sector, properly understand the scale of the damage being inflicted, and return to the Treasury with a financial ask that reflects what is required.‘
Creative Scotland have this week announced an additional £20m of emergency funding for Scotland’s culture sector.
Image Credit: Hope Holmes