Blighty Beat

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. Government’s furlough scheme, which covered the wages of people who couldn’t work or whose employers couldn't pay them during the pandemic and has ended today.

The Night Time Industries Association says that many of the staff members and contractors who took part in the scheme took other roles and have now left 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 over the last month alongside the end of restrictions to over 36k, which often leaves businesses without staff at short notice.

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

In addition, sources within the sector 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.