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Music industry bosses call for urgent package to help sector survive

Major figures have issued a plea to Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

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Musicians such as Ed Sheeran have been forced to cancel gigs (Greg Allen/PA)

Musicians such as Ed Sheeran have been forced to cancel gigs (Greg Allen/PA)

Musicians such as Ed Sheeran have been forced to cancel gigs (Greg Allen/PA)

Representatives from across the UK music landscape have called on the Chancellor to introduce “urgent” measures to counter the Covid-19 outbreak’s effect on the industry.

A joint statement from the group – which features charity, union and academy bosses – said the industry faces “an existential battle for survival”.

The letter is signed by seven leading figures including Tom Kiehl, acting chief executive of UK Music which represents the industry’s commercial interest, Graham Davies, chief executive of The Ivors Academy, and Horace Trubridge, general secretary of the Musicians Union.

Many of the UK’s venues have closed, while festivals including Glastonbury have been cancelled, and artists including The Who, Thom Yorke and Billie Eilish have dropped UK dates.

The Government has warned against mass gatherings of people, essentially banning trips to the cinema, music concerts and theatre performances.

The signatories said they welcomed measures outlined by Chancellor Rishi Sunak “as a first step in the effort to fight the unprecedented health and economic crisis triggered by coronavirus”.

They added: “We hope that they will make a real difference to many companies in the UK music industry that are facing an existential battle for survival.”

Coronavirus
Chancellor Rishi Sunak (Matt Dunham/PA)

However, they called for a further package of measures including VAT holidays for businesses, help with staff wages and clarity about the advice on mass events.

They also asked that insurance companies were held to account and followed proper protocols on claims.

The letter argued that the welfare system, in its current state, is not ready to deal with circumstances in which the Government strongly advises the music sector to stop work.

The statement said: “It is vital that the Government does everything it can to support the music industry with an urgent package of measures so we can do our best to weather this pandemic.

“The Government must now act swiftly to do whatever it takes to safeguard the future of our world-leading industry.”

PA