Ed Sheeran, Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones are amongst the more than 1,500 musicians who have signed an open letter to U.K. Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden demanding support for the live music industry that has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” the letter states. It calls for a timeline for resumption of concerts, financial support and tax exemption on ticket sales. Citing research from Media Insight Consulting, the letter states that the music industry contributed £4.5 billion ($5.6 billion) to the U.K. economy last year, and supports 210,000 jobs.
“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,” the letter states.
In response, Dowden tweeted: “I understand the deep anxiety of those working in music and the desire to see fixed dates for reopening. I am pushing hard for these dates and to give you a clear roadmap back. These involve very difficult decisions about the future of social distancing, which we know has saved lives.”
A government spokesperson said: “We are already providing unprecedented financial assistance which many music organizations 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 recognize 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.”
Other signatories to the letter include Eric Clapton, Dua Lipa, Liam Gallaghar, Bob Geldof, Dizzee Rascal, Coldplay and Sting.
The pandemic led to a wave of live concert cancellations across the U.K., including Glastonbury, All Points East and End of the Road Festival.