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Live industry warns against delayed reopening, calls on government to release Events Research Programme findings

By | Published on Friday 11 June 2021


New research published by LIVE, the trade body for the UK live sector, shows that the industry faces losses of over £500 million if the British government delays the lifting of its remaining COVID restrictions by a month, as it is rumoured it will do next week.

The study claims that over 5000 shows will have to be cancelled or postponed if the reopening of full capacity events is pushed back from the original 21 Jun target date. It also says that 248 grassroots venues are at immediate threat of eviction.

LIVE argues that delaying live music’s full return is unnecessary, as the government’s own research – through its Events Research Programme – confirms that the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is minimal at full capacity shows, so long as certain logistical measures are employed.

A group of live industry reps are now calling on the government to publish its findings from the Events Research Programme in full, so that the industry can implement necessary changes in order to reopen full capacity shows this month, as originally planned.

LIVE CEO Greg Parmley says that pushing back the lifting of COVID rules would leave the live sector in limbo, and force the cancellation of numerous large scale events “that the public are so looking forward to after a year of cancellations”.

He adds: “By its own evidence from the Events Research Programme … large scale events can happen safely with the right precautions in place. The government must now follow its own science if it is to avoid the decline of the UK’s world-leading live music industry, which absolutely cannot afford to miss out on another summer of cancelled events after a year on pause”.

Joining LIVE in its call for the government to allow live music to fully return this month are reps for the National Arenas Association, the Music Venue Trust, and promoter AEG Presents.

“The pilot shows at the BRITs and [in] Liverpool [as part of the Events Research Programme] were touted as the key to getting back to full capacity live performance, which is why it’s extremely frustrating that the government refuses to publish the full report and allow the sector to open up through the carefully planned precautions which are currently waiting in the wings”, says Lucy Noble, Chair of the National Arenas Association. “We implore the government to follow their own scientific data that proves live events are safe with the right mitigations. Now is the time for them to protect the live events sector for generations to come”.

Mark Davyd, CEO of MVT, adds: “In the event of any delay to reopening, government action to restore confidence to the sector will need to be swift, decisive and comprehensive. Any decision to delay places the sector in the most perilous and uncertain situation since April 2020. All that has been done by government, the public, artists and communities to save our venues risks being undone”.

Meanwhile, James King, CEO of European Festivals at AEG Presents, says: “A delay into July without a clear roadmap [for when COVID restrictions will lift] puts an impossible strain on all festivals, including AEG’s All Points East Festival, along with our suppliers across the industry. We cannot keep waiting indefinitely without knowing when [restriction lifting] will take place, and this uncertainty will undoubtedly result – by default – in more cancellations. We are desperate for the UK festival season to begin again, but an undated reopening makes long term planning and investment unfeasible”.

British Prime Minister ‘Boris’ Johnson is expected to hold a press conference to announce plans to delay the lifting of restrictions – due to concerns over the spread of the new delta variant of COVID-19 – on Monday.