Government unveils five-stage plan to see live performances return to UK

Written by: Charlotte Bredael

As reported by NME, we’re sure many of you are as glad as we are to learn that the government has unveiled a five-stage “road-map” plan to help the arts sector rebuild following the coronavirus pandemic.

Original Article:

Billed as a “phased return” to business, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said he wanted to “raise the curtain on live performances” as soon as possible.

During stage one of the plan, rehearsal and training for performances would be allowed to begin again with social distancing guidelines in place. No audiences would be allowed at this stage.

By stage two, performances could take place for broadcast and recording with social distancing guidelines in place; no audiences would be allowed at this point. A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told the BBC that the first two stages of the plan could start immediately.

By stage three, performances outdoors would be allowed to take place with socially-distant audiences present. Alongside this, “pilots” for indoor performances with a more limited audience number would also take place.

Stage four would see performances resuming both indoors and outdoors but with limited, socially distanced audiences. By stage five, performances would continue but with fuller audiences. The government has not yet given a time frame of when it expects stages 3, 4 and 5 to begin.

Earlier this week, the government was warned that an immediate cash injection of £50million is needed to prevent a wave of permanent venue closures across the summer.

The stark outlook came from the Music Venue Trust, which launched its #saveourvenues campaign in April. The campaign has raised £2million and saved cultural 140 spaces so far, but the MVT warns that the government must provide the injection to prevent lasting damage to the live sector.

Despite the unveiling of the five-stage re-opening plan, no mention has been given yet to the financial assistance venues need to stay afloat this summer.

Mark Dayvd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, said: “When we eventually emerge from lockdown, grassroots music venues, the absolute bedrock, the foundations, the cornerstone on which our world beating £5.2billion per year industry has been built, are going to be essential to live music bouncing back.

“It is therefore economically short sighted and frankly ridiculous to put a £5billion a year industry at long term risk for lack of a short term £50million investment.”

Davyd’s calls come after the UK government was criticised for “unworkable” advice on reopening the live sector – which included a gap of six metres between fans and musicians.

A socially distanced gig in Sweden. Credit: Gianluca La Bruna

Announcing the measures today, Dowden said music, theatres and culture in the UK were “the soul of our nation and a lynchpin of our world-beating creative industries.”

He continued: “We know the challenges – theatres must be full to make money, and performers need to be safe on stage as they sing, dance and play instruments.

“But I am determined to ensure the performing arts do not stay closed longer than is absolutely necessary to protect public health.”

“I know the public wants its theatres open, our brilliant performers want to go back to work, and we will do all we can to get them fully back up and running. Our roadmap provides a clear pathway back.”

Earlier this week, Liberal Democrat leadership hopeful Layla Moran also called on Boris Johnson to establish a cultural protection fund to secure the future of music venues threatened by the economic impact of coronavirus.