Ed Sheeran, The Rolling Stones and more sign open letter calling for government action to save live music industry

Harry Fletcher
·3-min read
Getty Images for Global Citizen
Getty Images for Global Citizen

Ed Sheeran, The Rolling Stones and Sir Paul McCartney are among the 1,500 names to sign an open letter to the government, calling for urgent action to save the live music industry.

Addressed to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden , the letter warns that the industry is at imminent risk of suffering “mass insolvencies”, with concerts and festivals unlikely to return until 2021.

It reads: “UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. But, with no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak."

It continues: “Until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry.”

The letter goes on to calls for a three-point strategy for restarting the live music sector, as well as a clear timeline for reopening venues without social distancing. It also requests a comprehensive business and employment support package and VAT exemption on ticket sales.

It has been met with mass support across the industry, with signatories including Dua Lipa, Skepta, Rita Ora, Coldplay, Eric Clapton, Annie Lennox, Sam Smith, Sir Rod Stewart, Liam Gallagher, Florence + The Machine, George Ezra and Depeche Mode, among many others.

Dua Lipa said: “It’s incredibly important for artists like myself to speak up and support the live music industry in the UK.

“From the very start, playing live concerts up and down the country has been a cornerstone for my own career.

“I am proud to have had the chance to play through all the levels … small clubs, then theatres and ballrooms and into arenas, and of course festivals in between each touring cycle.

“But the possibility for other emerging British artists to take the same path is in danger if the industry doesn’t receive much needed government support in the interim period before all the various venues, festivals and promoters are ready and able to operate independently again.”

Research carried out by Media Insight Consulting in June 2020 and published alongside the letter indicated that the music industry supports 210,000 jobs across the country, while venues, concerts, festivals and production companies added £4.5 billion to the economy last year.

Glastonbury is one of the many high-profile music events that was forced to cancel due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event had been due to take place last week, with virtual celebrations taking place online instead.

Cancelled: Glastonbury is one of the major events postponed in 2020 (Getty Images)
Cancelled: Glastonbury is one of the major events postponed in 2020 (Getty Images)

Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis said: “The UK’s venues, festivals, performers and crew bring so much to this country’s culture and economy, but they are now facing desperate financial challenges.

“If the Government doesn’t step up and support the British arts, we really could lose vital aspects of our culture forever.”

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been contacted for a response.

Additional reporting by PA

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