England’s live music industry responds to sale of alcohol being allowed at gigs: “We have been listened to”

The government's revised guidelines means many venues can now open this week and put on economically viable events

England’s live music industry has responded to the decision that grassroots venues will be able to sell alcohol post-lockdown.

Initially, post-lockdown restrictions included a ban on selling alcohol, something the Music Venue Trust (MVT) warned would prevent grassroots music venues being able to put on economically viable events being as 65% of their income comes from wet sales.

Those guidelines stated that alcohol could only be served as part of a “substantial” meal, but the MVT argued that 92% of grassroots music venues do not have the necessary facilities to fulfil that criteria.

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Today (November 30), the government announced that grassroots music venues in England will be allowed to sell alcohol at ticketed live shows from Wednesday (December 2).

This new decision to allow alcohol sales identifies the purchase of a ticket as having equivalent intention by the consumer to the purchase of a meal.

Crowdsurfing at a grassroots venue. Credit Brookfield / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo
Grassroots venues will be allowed to sell alcohol at ticketed live shows from this week. CREDIT: Alamy

A number of companies from the live music sector have since responded to the new guidelines, including MVT, who alongside Live Music Industry Venues and Entertainment Group (LIVE) worked with the government to make the case that the consumption of culture and the consumption of food should be treated equally.

“We are delighted that we have been listened to and that guidance has been issued that makes it clear that ticketed events at grassroots music venues can go ahead in Tier 2 with alcohol on sale,” said MVT CEO Mark Dayvd.

He added: “It makes a direct difference to the number of shows that can be delivered and is a significant step forward in the campaign to Revive Live Music and Reopen Every Venue Safely.”

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Phil Bowdery, Chair of The Concert Promoters Association said: “LIVE is delighted that the government has listened to our calls to allow alcohol to be sold at live music venues under the new Tier 2 restrictions. This announcement is hugely important for our industry as stopping the sale of alcohol was going to mean that even if venues were technically able to open under Tier 2, they wouldn’t have been able to financially.

“We are delighted that we have been listened to” – Music Venue Trust. CREDIT: Getty Images

“There’s still a long way to go for the live music industry to recover, and the new situation is extremely challenging for those in Tier 3, but we’re grateful to all those involved, in the industry and in Government, for securing this sensible step.”

Nathan Clark, a board member for the Association of Independent Promoters said the decision “represents a significant opportunity to all in the music industry to economically work on events, and to also utilise the Culture Recovery Fund.”

“It gives a potential lifeline opportunity to both grassroots venues and promoters that simply wouldn’t have been possible without this amendment,” he added. “A huge step in the right direction for music.”

Earlier this month, the Music Venue Trust launched the #SaveThe30 campaign to highlight the plight of the spaces left in the cold from the government’s £1.57billion Cultural Recovery Fund, in a bid to raise money and awareness to stop them from being lost forever.

Organisers last week said that support has been overwhelming as they edge closer to their £1,750,000 target, while urging music fans to donate to the cause if they can or write to their councillor or MP to ask for their help in saving their local venue.

This weekend, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) accused the UK government of intentionally destroying the night life sector through the introduction of new coronavirus restrictions.

The sector argues it will be among the hardest hit through Boris Johnson’s revised three-tier system, which he outlined in a virtual statement to the Commons last week.

Meanwhile, pubs in Wales are set to close from Friday (December 4) as the country enters a new coronavirus lockdown.

The country’s First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed the new restrictions today (November 30).

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