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Music stars call for action to save live music

Photo: Getty Images

Take That, Sir Paul McCartney The Rolling Stones are among hundreds of music stars who have joined forces in calling for action to save the UK's "world-leading" live music industry.

In an open letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, some 1,500 artists and bands say that "with no end to social distancing in sight" the industry is at imminent risk.

Other acts who have signed the letter include Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa and Little Mix, Skepta, Liam Gallagher, Rita Ora, Coldplay, Eric Clapton, Lewis Capaldi, Annie Lennox, Sam Smith, Sir Rod Stewart, Florence + The Machine, KT Tunstall, George Ezra, Depeche Mode and Iron Maiden.

Explaining why he wanted to be involved in the campaign, 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."

Lipa, who was named best female solo artist at the Brits in 2017 and best new artist at the Grammys in 2019, said she felt it was important to speak out.

"From the very start, playing live concerts up and down the country has been a cornerstone for my own career," she said.

"I am proud to have had the chance to play through all the levels... small clubs, then theatres and ballrooms and into arenas, and of course festivals in between each touring cycle.

"But the possibility for other emerging British artists to take the same path is in danger if the industry doesn't receive much needed government support in the interim period before all the various venues, festivals and promoters are ready and able to operate independently again."

Many of the artists who have signed the letter were due to perform at festivals such as Glastonbury, All Points East, Parklife and TRNSMT this summer, with all events either called off or moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"UK live music has been one of the UK's biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade," the letter states.

"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 published alongside the letter indicates 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 letter calls on Mr Dowden to deliver a three-point strategy for the restarting of the live music sector: a clear, conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing, a comprehensive business and employment support package, and VAT exemption on ticket sales.

Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis said the government needs to "step up" to support live music.

"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," she said.

"If the government doesn't step up and support the British arts, we really could lose vital aspects of our culture forever."

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