Petition launched to extend furlough scheme for live music industry

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A new petition has been launched to urge the government to extend the furlough scheme for members of the live music and theatre industries.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s scheme, which aided workers through the coronavirus crisis, is set to come to an end next month.

The new petition arrives after claims from many in the live music industry that, despite socially distanced indoor gigs being allowed in the UK from mid-August, the vast majority of venues are not viably able to host events with restrictions in place.

You can sign the petition on the UK Government and Parliament petitions website here.

Despite the government’s £1.57billion bailout for venues and arts spaces, which was announced back in July, music industry figures warned that artists, musicians and crew remain in crisis, amid fears that they will not be protected by the scheme.

Back in July, more than 1,500 artists and industry figures came together to call on the government to stop “catastrophic damage” to live music as part of the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign, which led to the unprecedented cash injection to help the arts, culture and heritage industries “weather the impact of coronavirus”.

Last month, the #WeMakeEvents Red Alert campaign was also launched – with hundreds of crew members marching on the streets of Manchester before arts spaces across the country lit up red in solidarity.

The #WeMakeEvents march in Manchester. Credit: Getty

Crew members from across the music industry spoke to NME last month about the problems they are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andy Lenthall, general manager of the Production Services Association, told NME that many crew members may abandon the music industry for other careers if the furlough scheme is not extended.

“We know that furlough is ending in October,” he said. “We’ve already seen mass redundancies across our sector. For self-employment income support, the last grant will be paid this month and that’s it.

“We’re looking at that gap between October and March until everyone’s back at work. During that period, we estimate the loss of earning will be somewhere between £60-70million. That’s a gap that we can’t plug, so we need the government to.”

Back in April, the Musicians Union surveyed their members to find that 19% were considering quitting a career in music due to a lack of government support during lockdown.

Musicians’ Union General Secretary Horace Trubridge also told NME that he believes the coronavirus to be the biggest crisis facing the music industry for 100 years.

“The Musicians’ Union hasn’t had a crisis like this since the 1920s when movies with talking first came in. Silent movies meant great employment for musicians because cinemas had orchestras and string quartets. As soon as the talkies came in, they got shot of them all. It is looking bleak,” he said.

“There’s nothing there for us at the moment, and we need financial support. This industry is worth £5.2billion per year to the economy. The treasury can’t afford to lose all that money in the long run, so put your hand in your pocket now and make sure that the talent stays.”

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