The UK music industry has responded positively to the number of venues, festivals and other music organisations that will receive support from the Culture Recovery Fund (CRF), the Arts Council scheme that is distributing a significant proportion of the £1.57 billion in COVID support provided by the government to cultural and heritage industries.
The NME reports that as full-capacity gigs are expected to return in April 2021, the funding will help support live music until coronavirus restrictions subside after fears that many venues would have to permanently close their doors.
The music community has been vocal in its criticism of the government when it emerged that the next round of COVID support schemes would not be of much use to live music and event businesses that are in or near-total shutdown due to the restrictions.
The new support schemes are developed for businesses and individuals that are beginning to return to normal following the living of earlier coronavirus lockdown measures.
In response to claims that the government had written off the cultural and events industries as it became clear that some COVID restrictions would be in place well into 2021, the government has pointed to its sector-specific commitment to funding, in particular the CRF.
While £1.57 billion is a significant investment, it was known that many cultural and heritage industries would be seeking a share of that money and that more mainstream venues, festivals and businesses that don’t typically benefit from arts funding in more normal times would not get the support needed.
As it became clear that a large number of those venues and businesses that had sought a grant would receive funding, there was a sense of relief from the music community.
A total of 1385 theatres, venues, galleries, festivals and other cultural organisations were informed they would be receiving CRF grants, with £257 million being distributed in this round, allowing most of the recipients to weather the storm until March or April next year.
However, there are still concerns for many in the industry. There are still many companies and organisations whose bids for grants were unsuccessful, which may lead to the winding down operations, and even for those who have received funding, they may not be able to keep their current workforce in place, especially as the furlough scheme ends at the end of the month.
It is also yet unknown to what extent musicians and freelancers, who were unable to apply to the CRF, will benefit from the funding.
At the more corporate end of the live music industry, there are continued redundancies as promoters, agencies and other live music businesses have to make difficult decisions as the venue shutdowns extend.
Further support for the music industry will be needed. While not all of the £1.57 billion has yet been allocated, the government is likely to find itself on the receiving end of continued pressure and criticism from the music and wider cultural industries even once it has been.
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