Industry increasingly optimistic that live music will return later this month as test music events staged in Liverpool


May 4, 2021

The Music Venue Trust has said that at least 2534 socially distanced shows in 266 grassroots venues in England will take place between 17 May and 21 Jun, as the live industry gets ready for the relaxation of COVID rules. If the current timeline stays in place, venues will be able to re-open and stage socially-distanced shows from later this month, with the plan that full capacity gigs can then return on 21 Jun.

Those figures are based on a survey of members of the UK’s Music Venues Alliance. Other stats from that survey include that “by the end of September … over 17,000 full capacity shows are already confirmed to take place, with nearly 30,000 shows likely to take place in front of 6,803,481 audience members. With support artists factored in, it is estimated that there will be 91,500 individual live performances during the period, offering over 300,000 work opportunities for musicians as they finally get the chance to return to paid employment”.

The UK government is currently in the middle of its Events Research Programme, which is reviewing the best way to get higher capacity shows and events back up and running without leading to any new surge in COVID infections. This weekend two music-related shows took place in Liverpool as part of that programme, including a night staged by the Circus nightclub and a special live concert in Sefton Park headlined by Blossoms.

Commenting on the former, Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, said this weekend: “Last night went extremely well, it’s an event that has been meticulously planned since last year; [the Circus team] have gone the extra mile, and delivered an amazing event under challenging conditions. Artists on the night were overwhelmed with emotion at being back performing, and we have seen an amazing response online with thousands of emotional messages of support from the industry and public”.

“This is a great step forward in educating the government, scientists and medical professionals in real time”, he went on. “We need to wait for the data to be released in the coming weeks to assess the next stages, but it is clear that there is only one way that we will be able to save the workforce and businesses within this sector, and that is by opening the doors”.

Commenting the the MVT stats and the eagerness amongst grassroots music venues to also re-open those doors, the Trust’s Beverley Whitrick said this morning: “It’s incredible to see the enthusiasm for getting live music back into our towns and cities being shown by venues, artists and crew. These socially distanced shows aren’t being delivered for financial return, in fact precisely the opposite. The grassroots sector is stepping up and putting its own time and money into answering the demand for live music in our communities”.

Meanwhile, the organisation’s Mark Dayvd added: “As we emerge from the darkness of the last year and move towards our plan to Revive Live it is incredibly exciting and heartening to see the positivity with which UK grassroots music venues are approaching re-opening their doors. The fact that musicians can get back to work, music fans can start to enjoy a live music experience again and all the associated staff in the music venue ecosystem can go back to earning a living again is amazing news”.

“There are still challenges to overcome, and of course the whole of this programme relies on the government sticking to its roadmap to allow us to re-open every venue safely”, he added. “Audience safety continues to be grassroots music venues’ main priority, but this is hopefully the start of our much-anticipated road back to normality”.

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