Why Music Venue Trust has not made an official statement

A number of you have asked why Music Venue Trust has not made any statement on the announcement of a 10PM curfew for night-time economy spaces from Thursday 23rd September.

MVT had, in fact, written a statement highlighting a number of concerns surrounding this announcement, requesting specifically that HM Government should clarify how this curfew addresses the aim of limiting the spread of the infection.

Having completed the draft of that statement, but prior to public issuing it, we received the following clarification from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, a statement which we note the Secretary of State, Oliver Dowden, has also now tweeted.

DCMS STATEMENT

“From Thursday 23 September businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls will be mandated to close from 10pm. Guidance will make it clear that cinemas, theatres and concert halls can continue beyond 10pm but only if the performance started before 10pm and alcohol cannot be served after 10pm.”

 

Based on this statement from DCMS, MVT cannot therefore officially comment on the impact of these new restrictions since it is not clear how Grassroots Music Venues will be affected. We assume that if the government believes that seated audiences enjoying a cultural event should be permitted to do so until the completion of that event, then that belief will obviously extend equally to the enjoyment of rap performance as it does to a classical music piece.

Irrespective of that clarification, MVT, and the Grassroots Music Venue sector, are fully committed to playing a front line role in the protection of Public Health. Our sector places the health and well-being of our communities at the very core of what we do. We are proud to state that no Grassroots Music Venue has, to date, been established to be the site of an incident of the transmission of Covid 19, a fact illustrated clearly in the government’s latest analysis of the spread of infection. This is a testament to the very strenuous measures taken by the sector to create Covid Secure Venues.

Broader than our own specific sector, the same government report detailing the very concerning spread of the infection does not seem to demonstrate a causal link between the rise in infection, which we feel is a serious issue that needs to be addressed, and the use of night time economy spaces after 10pm.

Closing night-time economy spaces is a serious measure with very significant impacts upon people’s businesses, jobs and livelihoods. Closing them during their most economically rewarding hours, 10pm to 1am, is an equally serious measure which will have precisely the same impacts.

If it is required to be done for the protection of public health, then it should, we regrettably agree, be done. In the event of a 10pm curfew being required on the basis of scientific evidence, HM Government must recognise that this is a decision that must be made for the benefit of the country, and that therefore the country has a responsibility to the businesses and people impacted by that decision.

Businesses impacted by this decision must have the full furlough scheme extended immediately, and a financial support package must be created and provided to ensure such businesses survive this crisis.

Since the beginning of this crisis, Music Venue Trust has been committed to Reopening Every Venue Safely. That remains our goal. We invite HM Government to sign up to this aim by providing clarity around their statement, and by ensuring that any relevant financial support required is made available, that will ensure it remains achievable.