Ed Sheeran signs letter calling for urgent action to save live music industry

Ed Sheeran performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2017 Picture: PA

Ed Sheeran performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2017 Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Suffolk singer Ed Sheeran is one of 1,500 acts to have signed an open letter calling for urgent government action to save the live music industry.

The Framlingham singer joined the likes of The Rolling Stones and Sir Paul McCartney in calling for action.

The open letter, addressed to culture secretary Oliver Dowden, said that with concerts and festivals unlikely to return until 2021 at the earliest, the industry is at imminent risk of suffering “mass insolvencies”.

Many of these artists were due to perform at festivals this summer, with all events either called off or taken online.

In the joint letter, the artists said: “UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade.

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“But, 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.

“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.”

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Research carried out by Media Insight Consulting in June 2020 and published alongside the letter indicated that the industry supports 210,000 jobs across the country, while venues, concerts, festivals and production companies added £4.5 billion to the economy in 2019.

The figures built on UK Music’s annual Music By Numbers report.

In Suffolk, the likes of Tom Jones, Bryan Ferry and the Pussycat Dolls were all due to perform this summer but their performance have all since been cancelled or rescheduled.

The letter calls on Mr Dowden to deliver a three-point strategy for the restarting of the live music sector as well as a clear, conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing, a comprehensive business and employment support package, and VAT exemption on ticket sales.

A government spokeswoman said: “We are already providing unprecedented financial assistance which many music organisations 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 recognise 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.”

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