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VENUES FACING TOUGH WINTER

The U.K. music-venue sector is still facing a host of challenges, including staffing shortages, millions of pounds of debt and uncertainty surrounding the possibility of winter restrictions.

Many venues took part in the U.K.’s furlough scheme, which covered the wages of people who couldn’t work or whose employers couldn't pay them during the pandemic, but it concluded today. 

The Night Time Industries Association says that many of the employees and contractors who took part in that arrangement are leaving the sector, with Michael Kill, NTIA CEO, saying it is still “some way off pre-pandemic staffing levels.”

At the same time, despite more than 80% of the British population having received both doses of the vaccine, daily COVID-19 infection rates have risen to more than 36k over the last month aside the end of restrictions, which can leave businesses without staff at short notice.

According to the Music Venue Trust, grassroots music venues are shouldering debt of £90m. The organization's CEO, Mark Davyd, told NME that the cash is unlikely to be cleared until 2024 or 2025. The average amount is between £80k and £120k per venue, he noted, with some owing significantly more to landlords, suppliers, services and the supply chain. 

Sector sources also tell us that ticket sales are significantly down due to a lack of customer confidence and uncertainty around restrictions that may come back into force as winter hits. 

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