Massive Attack, IDLES and Portishead join group of artists backing Bristol creative scene

"We believe this investment is now vital"

A host of musicians, actors and artists have come together to support the Bristol creative scene.

Musicians offering their support to artists around the city include Massive Attack, Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser, Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley, IDLES and Tricky. From the acting world, Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis, Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams and The Office‘s Stephen Merchant have also pledged their support.

The group have come together to form the Bristol United Guild, a non-profit company which aims to support creatives who have suffered financially as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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The group have signed an open letter outlining how a lack of support will result in “a lost generation of talent, direction and vocation.”

The letter read: “The COVID-19 crisis has magnified social inequalities on a vast scale. The impact will be acutely felt in cities and urban districts, and Bristol – a city that had more than 40 distinct neighbourhoods ranked as some of the most deprived in England prior to the pandemic – is no exception.

“In the coming months of serious economic hardship, the limited nature of much centralised arts funding and/or governmental support for the freelance sector, combined with the impossible position of those entering the arts, working in live events or arts production will become both clear and acute.

“As a result, the transmission belt between the fiercely independent arts and music culture that Bristol is internationally synonymous with, and the next generation of independent artists, performers, musicians, producers, technicians, and venue operators – especially from our most deprived districts – will be cut; resulting in a lost generation of talent, direction and vocation.”

Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja performs live. CREDIT: Getty

The letter went on to suggest an “emergency solution” could be found by establishing a “city-wide Business Improvement District” with the guild working as an “advisory body to quickly identify recipient spaces, places, individuals, bodies, groups and projects” in need of support.

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It continued: “In taking this step, commercial identities who benefit extensively from what Bristol has to offer and who have seen their operations expand positively during the pandemic period, can help to ensure that we do not lose an entire generation of citizen talent and human potential to the aftermath of the COVID 19 pandemic. We believe this investment is now vital.”

In a press release about the Guild, Massive Attack’s  Robert “3D” Del Naja added: “As established Bristol artists we can see the danger now of a lost generation of creativity.

“We recognise that social conditions have changed a lot in the last few decades; especially in terms of housing costs and the hollowing out of local services. With the BUG project, we want to prevent a forehead engraving culture of ploughing young people into low skilled, insecure work.

“We want to invest in unlocking potential and expression, and vitally, to encourage independence.”

Last year, the Musicians’ Union called on the UK government to provide greater assistance to those affected within the industry during the pandemic.

Research carried out by the union revealed that 19% of their members were considering quitting a career in music due to a lack of government support during lockdown.

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