North West artists among stars calling on Government to protect live music

Sir Paul McCartney and Liam Gallagher are among 1,500 artists and acts calling for urgent Government action to prevent the end of the UK's "world-leading" live music industry. Credit: PA

North West artists, including Sir Paul McCartney and Liam Gallagher, are among 1,500 music artists and acts calling for urgent Government action to prevent the end of the UK's "world-leading" live music industry.

The open letter, addressed to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, says that with concerts and festivals unlikely to return until 2021 at the earliest, the industry is at imminent risk of suffering "mass insolvencies".

The star-studded list of signees includes Dua Lipa, Skepta, Rita Ora, Coldplay, Eric Clapton, Annie Lennox, Sam Smith, Sir Rod Stewart, Liam Gallagher, Florence + The Machine, George Ezra, Depeche Mode, Iron Maiden, Lewis Capaldi, Little Mix and many more.

Many of these artists were due to perform at festivals this summer, including Glastonbury, All Points East, Parklife and TRNSMT, with all events either called off or taken online.

In the joint letter, the artists say: "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.

"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."

Research carried out by Media Insight Consulting in June 2020 and published alongside the letter indicated that the industry supports 210,000 jobs across the country, while venues, concerts, festivals and production companies added £4.5 billion to the economy in 2019.

The figures built on UK Music's annual Music By Numbers report.

Following the publication of the letter on Thursday, artists, venues, festivals and production companies will post films and photos of their last live gigs or events using the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay.

Fans are also encouraged to post about the last gig they attended in a show of support.

The letter calls on Mr Dowden to deliver a three-point strategy for the restarting of the live music sector.

It asks for a clear, conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing, a comprehensive business and employment support package, and VAT exemption on ticket sales.

Former Oasis frontman Gallagher said: "Amazing gigs don't happen without an amazing team behind the stage, but they'll all be out of jobs unless we can get back out there doing what we love.

"I can't wait to get back to playing for the fans. But in the meantime we need to look after the live industry.

"There are so many great people in it and we all need to support them until we can get back to playing live."

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 crowd watch Ed Sheeran performing on the Pyramid Stage during the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset. Credit: PA

A Government spokeswoman said: "We are already providing unprecedented financial assistance which many music organisations and artists have taken advantage of such as loans and the job retention scheme and we continue to look at additional support we can provide the industry.

"We recognise that this pandemic has created major challenges for the sector and are working closely with them to develop comprehensive guidance for performances and events to return as soon as possible."