On the 3rd of April 2020, Music Policy Forum organised an online free Music Cities Together conference, with Mark Davyd from Music Venue Trust (UK), Kwende Kefentse researcher on “music ecosystems” from the City of Ottawa (CA), Don Pitts and Michael Bracy from the Music Policy Forum (US).
The conversation evolved around music policies in times of coronavirus. The goal of this exchange was to learn more on how to talk about music as basic infrastructure.
That was the reason why Music Policy Forum invited Music Venue Trust as a good and succesful example of music advocacy: they succeed in showing how grassroots music venue are at the base of the live music chain.
After a presentation of Music Venue Trust, its context of creation, and their accomplishments, Mark Davyd explained the advocacy process they have taken in the UK. He gave several tips:
- Try to understand who is in power
- Learn how governments think
- Learn what the problems are
Mark Davyd also observed that current state aids to tackle the COVID-19 crisis are not fitted for grassroots venues as they are more fitted for commercial businesses rather than the cultural sector. He then mentionned several sector-based solidarity initiatives that contribute to supporting the British grassroots music sector in the midst of this crisis, notably the Grassroots Music Venue Crisis Service put in place by Music Venue Trust.
After Mark Davyd’s intervention, Kwende Kefentse, a Canadian DJ and music researcher working at the City of Ottawa presented the Canadian music context and the different music organisations that composed it. As in the UK, he observed that the state aids did not fit the specificities of the music sector which does not fit in market rules. He emphasized that live music was a holistic sector in terms of policies and that this needed to be taken into account by policy-makers.
To conclude the conference, Don Pitts presented the Survey tool put into place by Music Policy Forum to quantify the impact of COVID-19 crisis in the US music sector.