People are eager and excited to get back to live music as COVID-19 restrictions lift, but are concerned about the future of their local music venues, according to a new survey commissioned by cross-sector trade group UK Music.
Public First undertook the survey on behalf of UK Music questioning people about their plans regarding live shows this year, as well as the role music has played in their lives during the pandemic.
Of those surveyed, 43% said that they were interested in going to a live concert, gig or festival at some point this year, while two-thirds confirmed that – despite ongoing concerns about the coronavirus – they planned to attend as many shows as they would have done, or more, in any one year in pre-COVID times. Of the 18-24 year-olds surveyed, 38% said that going to a festival or gig is one of the things that they are most looking forward to as life slowly starts to get back to normal.
The UK live sector is getting ready to properly reopen next week as most COVID restrictions lift in England, allowing all venues to reopen and full capacity shows to resume. Although that’s a big step for a live sector that has been in virtual shutdown for nearly eighteen months, many challenges remain, of course. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that 45% of those surveyed by Public First said they were worried about the financial viability of their local music venues because of the impact of COVID-19 over the last year.
Respondents were also asked about the role music had played in their lives over the last year. 57% said that music had helped them cope during the pandemic, with 47% saying that they’d listened to more music during lockdown. 74% agreed that music is important to their quality of life – and 39% said that importance had increased during the past year. Meanwhile, researchers reckon, about a million adults took up playing a musical instrument during lockdown.
“These results demonstrate just how important music is to our nation and the critical role it has played over the course of this pandemic”, says UK Music boss Jamie Njoku-Goodwin. “Combined with the huge economic contribution the music industry made pre-COVID-19, this is further evidence that the UK music industry is a key national asset that should be protected and supported by government”.
And that protection and support in the short term, Njoku-Goodwin adds, should take the form of state-backed cancellation insurance for the live sector. “People are clearly missing going to festivals, gigs and concerts and eagerly awaiting the return of live music without social distancing”, he goes on.
“While the announcement of an end to restrictions from 19 Jul was very welcome, there remains one crucial last piece to the puzzle: action on insurance. Suggestions that restrictions may be reintroduced later this year creates huge risk for event organisers and the inability to obtain commercial insurance means many live events have already been called off this year”.
“Many more are still at risk of cancellation, so we need the government to introduce an insurance scheme that enables organisers to plan events with confidence into the autumn and beyond”, he concludes. “The music industry should play a key role in our country’s economic and cultural recovery, and there is huge appetite from the public for festivals and live events – but without a government-backed insurance scheme there is a very real risk that events will continue to be cancelled”.
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