It would be an understatement to say that 2021 has not started as we all had hoped. We are enduring the most challenging of times…
Music stars join the chorus of voices calling for a government-backed insurance scheme
- A government backed insurance scheme can get Britain’s live music and events industry back to work when it is safe to do so
- Jools Holland, Depeche Mode, Johnny Marr, Sir Cliff Richard, Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey, Amy McDonald, The Chemical Brothers, Frank Turner and Judas Priest are among those demanding action to get live events back
- New survey shows three-quarters of UK public thinks live events critical to British culture
Some of the UK’s most legendary performers are among those calling on the UK Government to commit to underwrite cancellation costs of events such as music festivals and tours, to enable the restart of the live entertainment sector from this summer. Alongside industry experts and trade associations, Jools Holland, Depeche Mode, Johnny Marr, Sir Cliff Richard, Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey, Amy McDonald, The Chemical Brothers, Frank Turner and Judas Priest have all added their name to the chorus of voices calling for a government-backed scheme.
The news comes as results from a new YouGov survey show that half of the UK population want to go to a live event this summer, while 75% believe live events are critical to British culture. Whilst recent news of mass ticket purchasing following the roadmap announcement is positive, it is even more critical for a government backed insurance scheme to be in place to safeguard the industry.
Sir Cliff Richard says: “Our business brings inspiration and happiness into people’s lives. We can make them smile when they are sad and help them sing when they have nothing to sing about. We need the government to help us plan for when it is safe to resume.”
Industry experts say that Britain’s live music and events industry can get back to work tomorrow without the government spending one pound – as long as it pledges to meet costs arising from any future cancellations caused by COVID. By making this promise, HM Treasury can bridge the gap for COVID cancellation insurance and support the UK’s live entertainment industries.
Earlier this week the Government published its roadmap out of lockdown, but despite this hugely positive announcement, coverage against COVID is no longer available in the commercial insurance market and is not expected to return for some time. In the interim, it can only be provided by the government acting as a backstop to give event organisers the confidence they need to start booking venues and working with suppliers.
Tim Thornhill, Director of Tysers Entertainment and Sport Division and live entertainment insurance industry veterans Bob Taylor and John Silcock, are working closely with live music industry umbrella organisation LIVE and insurance industry colleagues to urge the government to work with industry to find a solution.
Tim Thornhill commented: “The government has successfully created a scheme that has enabled the film and television industries to get back to work. Now they need to do the same for the live events industry. But the window of opportunity for this summer will slam shut very shortly. The government needs to act now.
“The live events industry is a massive employer and a significant generator of economic activity. Music alone employs over 200,000 people, with music tourism contributing £4.7bn to the UK economy*. The new YouGov survey shows that demand is there – they will buy tickets and spend on accommodation, food and drink. The government can unlock this boost to the economy at no cost to themselves, just a commitment to help underwrite the cost of cancellations should they occur.”
Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE adds: “Governments in Germany, Austria, Norway, the Netherlands and elsewhere are already backing schemes to allow production companies and their staff to plan for a safe return to live events. The UK rollout of the vaccine is cause for optimism in creating events that are safe but the industry will be significantly hampered without COVID event cancellation insurance.”
The industry’s call for action supports the letter to Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, from Julian Knight (Chair of the DCMS Select Committee), which warned that festival organisers and investors are unable to risk repeating losses sustained in 2020, unless the cost of events can be insured against cancellation.
Schemes in place for film and TV
MPs, backed by 40 industry associations, including industry umbrella groups LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment) and UK Music are also urging the Government to extend existing underwriting schemes, such as the £500m fund set up for the film and television sector, to “other creative industries”, including live music, to allow them to get on with organising events.
*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,697 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12–13 February 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
*Music By Numbers 2020 report.
Further supporting quotes from artists
Jools Holland commented:
” The solution to this problem could be simple – and what’s more, it doesn’t involve the Government paying out money now. Maybe not even in the future, unless Covid strikes again. All we need from the Government is the commitment to help if necessary.”
Roger Daltrey CBE commented:
“The music business and arts have been enormously affected by the Covid 19 virus, with the ongoing health issues plus the problems thrown up by the government’s essential decision to close our places of work. The government however needs to understand how our industry functions. Promoters, especially those with festivals, bands and any touring acts have enormous outlays before a commencing a tour, so insurance for these costs is paramount. Insurance companies will no longer cover these costs for COVID 19, which will render much of our business unviable as no promoter can risk setting up an event or tour without this cover. All we ask of our government is to put in place an insurance policy that, in the event of this situation happening again, will cover these costs.
As it may be 100 years to the next pandemic it is extremely unlikely that this will involve the government paying out any money, but this cover will allow our business to function as soon as it is safe for us to do so.”
The Chemical Brothers commented:
“Like many other people we have had to put a lot of work on hold in the last year, and we have seen the impact on the many people who help make the live shows happen.
Thousands of jobs have already been lost across the UK live music industry, with many more at risk.
The UK Government has already provided a financially backed scheme for the film industry, which has allowed production to resume. All we ask is that the same approach be taken to help those in the live events industry, which needs the support too and provides so much to the UK economically as well as culturally. Stay safe. Hold tight x.”
Sir Cliff Richard commented:
“The live events industry has suffered hugely as a result of the pandemic and has been shut down for nearly a year. Venues, performers and crew have all been badly affected. People’s jobs and income have vanished almost overnight. OUR BUSINESS BRINGS INSPIRATION AND HAPPINESS INTO PEOPLE’S LIVES. WE CAN MAKE THEM SMILE WHEN THEY ARE SAD AND WE CAN HELP THEM SING WHEN THEY HAVE NOTHING TO SING ABOUT!! We need the Government to help us plan for when it is safe to resume OUR business.”
Amy MacDonald commented:
“When people attend a gig they buy a ticket, turn up and enjoy the show. What they don’t always understand is the months of preparation that went on behind the scenes to get to that particular point. Thousands of emails and phone calls, meetings, site visits and not to mention huge amounts of money spent to just get to a point where the tickets are on sale. Another important aspect of preparing for a show is the need to insure the event but it’s now impossible to get any insurance to cover these shows. As we have seen from the recent cancellation of Glastonbury, the live industry cannot even plan to start up again because it is too much of a risk without any insurance. The live industry has been put on hold for nearly a year and with no date for a return and no chance to even plan a return, the industry is facing near catastrophe without adequate government support. Nobody wants to live in a world without live music.”
Robert Plant, commented:
“We all desperately want the UK Live Industry back on its feet again, so we can enjoy our favourite bands or sport event. Yet without insurance to cover these events, these things can’t happen. So please, can the PM tell us why he won’t help an industry that contributes billions to the UK Economy each year.
We’re not asking for any money, just a commitment to help if Covid ever strikes again. We don’t want a hand-out, we just need a hand up.. to help us get back on the stage. I’ve spent 55 years performing in halls, clubs, theatres and concerts halls across the UK. Now we’re in unchartered waters, soon there will be nowhere left to play. So I’m lending my voice to this campaign in the hope that the Government will see sense and lend support before many of our beloved music venues disappear forever”.
Harvey Goldsmith CBE, Promoter, commented:
“As promoters and producers of live concerts we cannot produce tours without insurance against Covid. We are the risk takers and often have to pay considerable sums upfront to be able to create the tour. If the Government at any time decide it is unsafe to continue, or commence a tour, we must be able to take insurance to protect us, as any normal business would expect. If no insurance is available our business will collapse.”
Philip McIntyre, Promoter, commented:
“I would like to support your campaign to have the government underwrite any losses suffered from Covid 19 cancellations whilst the pandemic is still prevalent.
My company is in the top 5 of all live entertainment groups in the UK we are obviously keen to start operating again but we worry about uninsured risk. Now we have a plan to come out of lockdown the single most powerful measure the government could take is to underwrite any losses from Covid 19 cancellations after June this year.
This would give the risk takers so much confidence they the live arts would return to normal by December this year.
If there are claims they would more than likely be on a regional basis and not onerous and the business generated in town and city centres would more than cover them in my estimation the government would be in profit 12 months ahead of a no action situation.”
Frank Turner commented:
“It cannot be exaggerated, the devastation caused in my industry by the pandemic. We’re doing what we can to hang on and plan for a better future. An insurance plan will help us survive and come back quicker, and it doesn’t involve the government paying out any extra money now (or possibly ever). It would make an enormous difference.”
Johnny Marr commented:
The solution to getting music back up safely is easy and it doesn’t involve the Government committing money now. All we need from the government is the commitment to help if necessary with an insurance scheme backed by them, and that will get our crews and suppliers back working. The government would only have to pay out in the worst case.”
Barrie Marshall MBE, Promoter, commented:
“The tremendous work of the NHS and the vaccination programme means that live events can start soon, this gives us hope that we can begin to share those magical moments and wonderful concerts once again.
However, we need the government to help us by providing financial backing in the form of an insurance fund. This is needed to cover the costs of an event if it must be cancelled as a result of a COVID outbreak.
Every effort is made to reduce the costs of a cancelled concert including trying to reschedule a date in the future but there are some circumstances where this is not possible.”
John Giddings, Promoter, commented:
“Our industry has been hit immeasurably over the past year and we need to get it back up and running again. The Government has got to help!”
Judas Priest commented:
“The world has been more or less brought to its knees because of the Coronavirus/Covid 19 in this past year – it has affected so many people and businesses in all walks of life in so many ways – our industry – the Entertainment Industry (which is a multi-billion dollar business) is suffering massively – it isn’t just affecting us – a band who want to get back out on the road – performing to our fans around the world – but it is affecting mainly our crew (and all the other crews), the venues – their staff, cleaners, security, caterers, local crew etc., bus drivers, truck drivers, lighting and video personnel, stage set designers and stage set builders – the list is endless – we need help – for the venues to be able to put on shows and the artists to be able to perform we all need to get tour insurance that will cover Covid 19 so shows can go ahead – now we have the vaccine things should be on the way up – but we need your help urgently – please!”
Depeche Mode commented:
“With the live music industry in the UK shut down for over a year, our crew, our fans, venues, and everyone else who makes shows possible have been badly affected. Jobs and income have vanished almost overnight, and fans and artists alike have been left wondering when live shows will be possible again. We need the government to help us get our industry back on track and to help restart live events in a safe, effective way once it’s possible to do so.”