Cultural diversity is at stake – Live DMA reacts

The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is extremely harsh for the live music sector, already strained by months of adjustments and uncertainties. The precarious situation of many venues, clubs, and festivals increases day by day and hundreds of live music stages are at imminent risk of closing permanently. The diversity of the entire music ecosystem is at stake! In reaction, Live DMA calls for reinforced and equal support to local music scenes everywhere in Europe.

Straightforward, this publication explains straight to the point what live music organisers are going through since March 2020 and points to the open wounds that urgently need to be taken care of. Read and download the document:

Live DMA Reacts – Pdf download

A call for reinforced and equal
support to local music scenes
everywhere in Europe!

Since March 2020, live music venues, clubs and festivals have to cancel or reschedule all their events, and lose their core business and main source of income. While some of them reopened under very strict conditions, larger scale events as well as club nights are completely shut down.

The second wave of the pandemic is now hitting our sector even stronger, already strained by months of adjustments and uncertainties.

Hundreds of music venues are now at risk and may
close their doors permanently

“The disappearance of music venues is already a sad reality caused by the pandemic. Decision makers are not sufficiently aware that we are one of the sectors most affected by the crisis. Due to the lack of political action, most of the spaces have not yet been able to open their doors. We need attention proportional to our degree of affectation if we do not want to encounter an impoverishment and cultural desertification of our territory, which unfortunately can be irreversible.”

ElUltimoConcierto, Spain

At the end of October, a pan-European community of 110 networks and associations, amongst which Live DMA, have urged the Member States to make sure that at the very least 2% of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is allocated to the Cultural and Creative Industries, as called for by the European Parliament in its recent Resolution on the “Cultural Recovery of Europe”.

“As our societies are going through an unprecedented turmoil, we call on the EU and its Member States to make sure that culture is placed at the core of each and every recovery plan, which aims at a sustainable, inclusive and future-looking revival of our social and
economic life.”

Open Letter – Make Culture Central in the EU Recovery

Live music venues are on survival mode. The lock downs and the very limited audience capacity restrictions cause an unprecedented loss of incomes for music venues, clubs and festivals. The financial damages rely on their business models which are based on audience incomes, but also on government support on a very short-term.

“The venues and clubs’ final financial result of 2020 will depend on the amount of financial support from governments. Also relief measures such as ticketing refund schemes, tax payment delays, or loaning options are important for venues liquidity position, and, thus, essential for their survival.”

Live DMA Survey – Covid-19 Impact Key Numbers

Moreover, the financial damages will have a lasting impact on the sector. We call on local, national and European authorities to provide a strong and harmonized support package in 2021 for live music venues, including clubs programming DJ performances and festivals:

• In most of the European countries, venues and clubs were able to apply to general unemployment schemes for the permanent staff. However, specific measures for artists, technicians and freelancers are required to cover the specificities of the live music sector. As the “UK live music: At a cliff edge” published by Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment shows, 170 000 UK live music jobs will be lost by the end of the year without government support.

Specific funds, such as ticket compensation for performances with a limited audience capacity can be adapted to the already-existing mechanisms at national level regarding music programming. Examples can be found in The Netherlands with the Dutch Performing Arts Foundation or in France with the Centre National de la Musique.

• The fixed costs remain high for venues and clubs, especially for private commercial venues and this is why compensation schemes are needed. Rents can be particularly burdening so we call on freezing the rent costs for the live music venues and clubs. Moreover, the general crisis situation and the economic precariousness in which many venues already find themselves are bringing out offers of vulture investment funds willing to buy licenses at low prices with a clear intention of speculating and generating other types of activities, much more profitable than live music and artistic programming. If the public authorities do not pay attention to regulate the situation, it means they will contribute to leave the territory without some essential cultural spaces for the local music scene.

In a context of re-openings, live music venues were keen on working with the local authorities to respect safety measures. Their staff reacted in a very professional and responsible way, and adapted their programming, security and safety procedures to the weekly-changing protocols. Now is time to recognize their responsible work at fair value: live music venues, clubs and festivals are part of the cultural sector. It is urgent to give them access to the recovery plans for culture. They should also benefit from the same licensing and tax regulations as the other cultural organisations such as theatres and opera houses.

Local and national authorities should recognize that live music venues and clubs, if following a strict sanitary protocol, are the safest places where to attend a music event. The professionals involved in the music venues are experienced with managing crowds, they are well-aware and care about health and security issues. Moreover, the last publications revealed that the infection rates are much lower during cultural events than in private social gatherings. Because people will continue to meet and find another party, and because no music venue or club aims to be a cluster, we call on public authorities to trust and work together with music venues, clubs and festivals representatives and consult them before implementing new restrictions.

Some music venues have used their capacity to innovate during the crisis by transforming their activities into open airs, artist’s residencies, live streaming… They can also be resourceful partners when it comes to develop health measures related to social gatherings, such as fast–testing.

Music venues, clubs and festivals need a financial security to reinvent themselves, to avoid a new crisis and develop fair and sustainable models. They are deeply concerned by maintaining spaces for emerging talents after the pandemic. The covid-19 crisis revealed that subsidized venues were the less impacted, and this is why we request a long-term investment in our sector, more operating grants and coordinated policies from local to European level.

Even with their doors being closed, live music venues stand for openness to social and artistic diversity. On 6th of February 2021, [Open] Club Day will take place again, as a symbolic act of resilience and solidarity. All concert-goers and music enthusiasts will be called to participate to create together a momentum of solidarity and resilience.

Now more than ever, we must support our local music scenes!

Live DMA Reacts – Pdf download