The Digital and Culture Minister, Caroline Dinenage, has said that the government is doing “everything we can” to protect the UK’s live music industry.
Speaking at yesterday’s (October 6) Westminster Hall debate to discuss the impact of coronavirus on the beleaguered sector, Dinenage said that the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund was proof of its support.
“The government stands with the culture sector,” she said (via Music Week).
“We are doing everything we can. The funds will be used to help support the performing arts, theatres, museums, heritage, galleries, independent cinemas and live music venues across the country, and we are determined that every region of the UK should benefit.”
Responding to live music bosses who have called for the government to provide a conditional date for shows to return, Dinenage said: “We are aware that many in the sector would like greater clarity on the potential transition to stage 5, given the planning that they need to do to remobilise and the lead-in time required for programming, casting and rehearsing.
“DCMS will continue to work with the sector to establish an appropriate pilot process for testing and return to stage 5 activity when appropriate, and we are working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care on its Moonshot project.
“We want to see full audiences return as soon as possible, but we have always been clear that moving to stage 5 will ultimately be determined by the public health context. We are working at pace with the sector on innovative proposals for how full audiences can return when it is safe to do so.”
Dinenage also addressed fears that the Jobs Support Scheme, unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week, will not support those in live music who are currently out of work.
She said: “These are proper jobs; these are jobs that are vital. Indeed, the people doing these jobs can do something that very few other people in this world can do.
“We know the importance of protecting jobs and livelihoods in the creative arts sector. Through the furlough scheme we have protected 303,000 jobs, with claims totalling £1.47 billion. The self-employed income support scheme was taken up by 64% of eligible arts and entertainment workers, with grants totalling £153 million.
“The Chancellor has announced that the scheme will be extended. The universal credit system has been extended and made more generous, but we know that so many people are still falling through the gaps and are not being supported.”
Her comments come days after it was confirmed that music venues will have to wait a week longer than anticipated to find out whether they will receive a grant from the government’s £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund.
A number of musicians, crew, venues and industry bosses have also warned of bankruptcies and catastrophic damage to the live music sector unless support is provided to mothball the gig sector until it is safe to put shows on.