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VENUES FIGHT LATEST U.K. PLAN

The U.K.’s latest round of COVID-19-related moves does little, if anything, to support nightlife businesses, according to the Music Venue Trust, which blasts the initiative as “absurd.”

Health and Care Minister Helen Whateley told Sky News, “it doesn’t make sense to continue supporting jobs where there simply isn’t work at the moment.” The latest government rescue plan helps employed workers for next six months, but venue employees still unemployed are being shut out.

In a lengthy response, Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd wrote, “Grassroots music venues have faced a tough couple of decades. For the first time in 20 years, thanks to a combined effort by the sector itself, national government, local government, the music industry, local communities and Music Venue Trust, 2019 was the first time since 2000 that the year finished with more trading grassroots music venues than it started. 

“To describe grassroots music venues, after all that effort and work by multiple agencies across several years, as inherently unviable businesses and the people who work in them as occupying inherently unviable jobs is, frankly, absurd.” 

He asks that the government release the data linking the infection rate with clubs, pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues being open later than 10pm.

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night-Time Industries Association, notes the 10pm curfew has meant the coronavirus will. spread via unregulated gatherings. “As a result of this measure, we foresee a surge of unregulated events and house parties which are the real hot beds of infection, attended by frustrated young people denied access to safe and legitimate night-time hospitality venues”

The U.K. Council of Music Makers, a group comprising the FAC, The Ivors Academy, MMF, MPG and the MU, said current measures “do not go far enough for our industry. … We call for a specific and robust financial support package for the workforce of the music industry and look forward to working with you on finding a solution with the utmost urgency. As much of the workforce faces further redundancies, financial devastation and irreparable damage, we need action now before we lose our talent and economic value for good.” 

The Music Venues Trust statement reads,  “The government cannot simply shrug its shoulders at 900 grassroots music venues being permanently lost, over 200,000 jobs being permanently lost, and over £5b in current and future economic activity that the country risks permanently losing because of the temporary decisions it is making. 

“The government has a duty to temporarily protect the venues it is temporarily restricting.  Music Venue Trust remains committed to working and acting together with the government to ensure that the long term viability of grassroots music venues, achieved by immense hard work in the last few years, returns after this temporary crisis.”

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