Call for action to protect music and theatre jobs

Iain Gray MSP is backing calls for a clear plan to be announced to protect jobs within Scotland’s music and theatre industry.

The call comes as musicians from around the UK signed an open letter this week, warning that mass redundancies among key production and crew staff due to COVID-19 may mean fans could have to wait years for live gigs to return. Theatre and music venues are still without a date for when doors can be reopened and there is no clarity over required social distancing measures for venues to open safely.

Scottish Labour’s culture and tourism spokesperson Claire Baker has repeatedly pressed the Scottish Government to announce plans to protect jobs within the industries and make sure venues are supported as they still face months of closure. Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has announced a £10m fund but it is only for not-for-profit performing arts venues.

Mr Gray is backing Ms Baker’s call for an industry specific ‘Creative Arts Recovery Package’ to provide the financial support needed to ensure the survival of venues, performers, staff and companies. This has not been put in place and several venues have already been forced to postpone or cancel Christmas shows and events this year. For many, these ticket sales are a financial lifeline.

Backing the urgent need to support Scotland’s creative sector, Iain Gray MSP said:

“Businesses and venues in the creative sector were the first to close when the lockdown began, and the pressures they face are mounting every day. While most staff were furloughed, with no end in sight, many jobs in the sector are now at risk. 

“We know the recovery from COVID-19 for these industries will be particularly difficult, and they cannot afford to lose out on the vital revenue they need from ticket sales and bookings over the next few months.

“I have already raised the issue of support for local music festivals with the Culture Secretary, but it’s clear that we need a Scotland specific creative arts recovery package, with wide ranging avenues of support, or the arts sector will not recover.

“The lack of action is risking many creative jobs and the future of much-loved performance venues, and the Scottish Government must now take serious and immediate action to support the sector through this crisis period.”

The call for an arts recovery package comes as music industry body, UK Music, declared that the Scottish live music industry is currently in crisis. From TRNSMT to Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival and the Barrowlands to The Lemon Tree, the sector faces closures.

Without urgent action, UK Music claim over 90% of the country’s much-loved grassroots live music venues face closing their doors permanently and a sector worth £494 million per annum to the Scottish economy which supports over 4,300 jobs will be irretrievably damaged.

UK Music, along with the rest of the music industry, has launched a new campaign, Let The Music Play. It is calling for:

  1. A clear conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing.
  2. An immediate comprehensive business and employment support package.
  3. Full VAT exemption on ticket sales.

Find out more about the campaign at www.ukmusic.org/policy/let-the-music-play/