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Arts boost with UK government's £1.57 billion funding package – £97 million to Scotland – plus new taskforce


By Margaret Chrystall

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POSITIVE news on two fronts for the arts this week, firstly as the UK government announced a £1.57 billion support package which has been welcomed by the arts sector which has felt particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus lockdown.

The Tooth & Claw's James Carr who runs the grassroots venue with his partner Paulina, and thanks artists and audiences alike for their support. Picture: HNM, Gair Fraser
The Tooth & Claw's James Carr who runs the grassroots venue with his partner Paulina, and thanks artists and audiences alike for their support. Picture: HNM, Gair Fraser

Details have yet to be offered on exactly how the money – which has been extensively lobbied for by organisations like the Music Venue Trust which supports grassroots venues – will be shared out across the industry.

From the overall package, £97 million has been earmarked to come to Scotland and will make its way to the different areas of the arts including music venues and theatres. It comes in the week the Scottish Government’s Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, also announced a new £10 million for a performing arts venues fund.

The UK rescue package means thousands of organisations across a range of sectors including the performing arts and theatres, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema will be able to access emergency grants and loans.

The money has been designed to provide a lifeline to vital cultural and heritage organisations across the country hit hard to help them stay afloat while their doors are closed. Funding to restart paused projects will also help support employment, including freelances.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the package was designed to support “iconic theatre and musicals” to “gigs performed in local basement venues”.

He also called the UK’s cultural industry” the beating heart of this country”.

James Carr, who runs the Tooth & Claw said: “I was blown away when I heard the announcement about the £1.57 billion package, with £97 million in Scotland. The chairman of the Music Venue Trust and his team have been in lobbying government, making the points for us. So we are just awaiting word now on who the awarding bodies are going to be and it will be making sure it gets into the hands of those who need it.

The Music Venue Trust played a massive role in getting the funding for grassroots music venues. It wasn’t just them alone, but to be able to secure that amount from the government is just a massive effort. I’m not saying that the Music Venue Trust didn’t play their role, they most certainly did. The number of times they were mentioned in Parliament alone just proves that we made our presence known and felt. So it is definitely true that the money gets to where we are, to the venues that need it.”

James also thanks two very important other groups of people which have been supporting grassroots venues.

“Obviously the Music Venue Trust did all this for the venues, but to be honest without the support of the audiences and the artists as well who came out and did live streams for us and who signed and shared the petitions and the questionnaires that were sent out, all that helped without a doubt.

“That’s where Music Venue Trust didn’t just go in asking for x amount of money just because they thought that might be enough to do it.

“They sat and they had gathered all the information from the music venues, the gig-goers, the artists themselves to see what could be done or how much was needed to save the sector.

“It wasn’t just a rough guess. There was a lot of hard work went into it and without the people who participated – and particularly the artists and audience – there’s no chance we would be here without them.”

The support from the trust and artists and audiences over the last 120 days has been praised by many live grassroots venues such as The Tooth & Claw, where James says the support has helped prevent the closure of venues like his.

The opening of bars and other venues is now imminent with the announcement of Phase Three, but James is cautious.

“With what we have been seeing going on down in England, and in beer gardens in some other parts of the UK too, I’m hesitant about whether bars will be allowed to open straight away, particularly since certain bars and towns have already been shut back down. I’m sure you saw the images of the packed streets, that seems totally irresponsible. And if there was that concentration of bars and they were allowing that many people to pass through, congregating on the street like that, it’s just madness.”

He feels the funding package announcement is a hugely positive step for venues and music.

“As long as the money goes where it is intended and as long as the grassroots venues in Scotland get their due, that is the most important thing at the moment.

“If all the money gets swallowed up by other areas of the arts, it would be deeply disappointing and we would be back in the position we were in already where the future was not guaranteed.

“Yes, we may be able to reopen and everything that has been delivered so far makes sure the bills are paid.

“But it wouldn’t allow any budget for business development for music venues to thrive in the new future we are going into.

“But hopefully that is what this money will allow us to do.”

Also this week, a new alliance called the Scottish Commercial Music Industry Taskforce – representing all areas of the industry including locally Belladrum Festival and the Ironworks venue – has submitted a letter to the Scottish Government.

As well as asking for the essential support the industry needs to survive, the group representing artists, agents, managers, promoters, festivals, venues and production companies, also identifies pressing issues.

Among those is asking the Scottish Government to address gaps in the UK schemes to protect Scotland’s art and culture sector.

The taskforce is also asking the government to commit their support by establishing a culture & creative industries infrastructure fund with the £97 million package from the UK Government, and ensure Scottish commercial music businesses can access this to support survival and recovery.

Dougie Brown, signed to the taskforce in his roles as Belladrum and The Gathering promoter and Tamzene's manager.
Dougie Brown, signed to the taskforce in his roles as Belladrum and The Gathering promoter and Tamzene's manager.

Dougie Brown, as promoter of Belladrum Festival and The Gathering, and manager of Cromarty singer songwriter Tamzene, said: “We need to have a cohesive voice between all the theatres, venues, festivals, artists, managers, anyone working in the sector, the lighting designers, the production company – there are so many other businesses affected by this that are all supportive industries within the entertainment industry.

“It’s amazing that during a pandemic like this is, what is the first thing people turn to in a time of crisis?

“It’s the arts! It’s music, it’s film, it’s TV, it’s books. And we need to ensure that the artists and the sector around the artists is supported as well.

“The arts – whether it be theatres or individual artists, are always among the first to support any charitable causes or fundraising events, whether that be at local or national levels and this is a time when the arts are needing that level of support now as well.

“And I think we need to put that strong message forward, that we need support.

“We can’t live without arts and culture – and it needs to be supported. The key thing is it is not just one area of the industry, it works its way from grassroots venues to national touring theatres to global megastars because, yes, global megastars are well-off, but they have a whole industry that supports them that is essentially made up of a lot of freelancers and a lot of smaller companies. And if the industry support isn’t there for them, it’s terrifying.”

The taskforce felt that establishing a collective voice for a vital sector of Scotland’s culture, includingoperators within the Scottish commercial music industry, was important.

KT Tunstall supports the Music Venue Trust and the taskforce.
KT Tunstall supports the Music Venue Trust and the taskforce.

Formed out of concern that there is a lack of support or understanding of this sector’s need, businesses from across the country have come together to present a united request to the Scottish Government to act urgently and provide vital support for the music industry.

Identifying urgent issues for the sector within the current environment, the taskforce encompasses all sub-sectors of the Scottish music industry. From artists, agents and managers, promoters and festivals, music venues and production companies, the Scottish Commercial Music Industry Taskforce recognises a vast amount of businesses are in immediate jeopardy, and without these essential operators, the country’s music industry risks devastation.

Welcoming the recent announcements of a £97 million investment for cultural, arts and heritage institutions as well as the Scottish Government’s £10 million package for performing arts venues, the Scottish Commercial Music Industry Taskforce now calls on the Scottish Government to ensure the industry is given the essential support it desperately needs to survive.

Glasgow DJ duo Slam signed up to the taskforce.
Glasgow DJ duo Slam signed up to the taskforce.

Founding members of the Scottish Commercial Music Industry Taskforce include DF Concerts, Regular Music, Active Events, Craft Management, A Modern Way Management, Ironworks venue, Asgard, ATC Live, Sneaky Petes and Fly Events. The taskforce also includes the Scottish Music Industry Association and has its full support.

Artists include Biffy Clyro, Deacon Blue, Del Amitri, Eddi Reader, Kathryn Joseph, KT Tunstall, Mogwai, Primal Scream, Simple Minds, SLAM, Teenage Fanclub, Texas, The Proclaimers, The Twilight Sad and more have signed their name to the letter. Festivals, labels, booking agencies, management companies as well as studios and venues have also signed including; Adlib Audio, Belladrum Festival, Edinburgh and Glasgow Summer Sessions, Edinburgh Corn Exchange, G4S, Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom, HebCelt Festival,Kingdom Management, Music Venues Alliance,PCL Presents, Riverside Festival, Scottish Event Campus, Showtec, Skye Live Festival, SOMA Recordings Ltd,Sub Club, SWG3, Traditional Music Forum, Ticketmaster Scotland, TRNSMT Festival and more.

Specifically writing to Fiona Hyslop, as the cabinet secretary for economy, fair work and culture, the taskforce is asking for support for commercial music businesses, which have been seriously impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic through no fault of their own.

Glasvegas with James Allan (left). Picture: Danny North
Glasvegas with James Allan (left). Picture: Danny North

The taskforce identifies various issues including Scottish music businesses falling through the gaps of existing Scottish and UK Government schemes. These businesses face imminent risk of closure or will be required to let experienced staff go, subsequently losing critical infrastructure, knowledge and skills and significantly limiting their ability to recover or continue to provide career development for Scottish artists.

The Scottish Commercial Industry Taskforce has also identified a lack of consultation with the commercial music sector on its needs and despite the £10 million Scottish Government package, it is unclear if this will directly benefit commercial music venues.

Also, funding schemes administered by Creative Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and Highland and Islands Enterprise do not prioritise the activities of the commercial music sector which forms a critical part of the country’s infrastructure, contributing to local economies and cultural tourism and therefore hugely benefitting the wider Scottish economy.

Now the taskforce is asking the Scottish Government to commit their support by establishing a culture & creative industries Infrastructure fund with the £97 million package from the UK Government, and ensure Scottish commercial music businesses can access this to support survival and recovery.

It asks the Scottish Government to provide a clear, conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing and press the UK Government to deliver a full VAT exemption on ticket sales, as well as reviewing the need for further business support, should live music have to remain suspended beyond six months.

The taskforce welcomes and recognises the additional targeted measures the Scottish Government has taken to address gaps in the UK’s schemes to protect Scotland’s arts and culture sector.

Award-winning singer, songwriter and musician Kathryn Joseph is part of the taskforce.
Award-winning singer, songwriter and musician Kathryn Joseph is part of the taskforce.

But the commercial music industry has unique needs and operates within different parameters from the not-for-profit and subsidised sector and urges the Scottish Government to address these as a matter of priority before it is too late.

Founding members of the taskforce include DF Concerts, Regular Music, Active Events, Craft Management, A Modern Way Management, Ironworks Venue, Asgard, ATC Live, Sneaky Petes and Fly Events. The Taskforce also includes the Scottish Music Industry Association and has its full support.

The text of the letter sent is included below – with all the signatories:

Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture

Fiona Hyslop

St Andrews House

Edinburgh

EH1 3DG

6th July 2020

Dear Cabinet Secretary,

The Scottish Commercial Music Industry Taskforce has recently been established by commercial music businesses in response to Covid 19 as a collective voice for the sector in Scotland. It encompasses all subsectors of the music industry in Scotland from agents and managers, promoters and festivals to music venues and production companies. Founding members include DF Concerts, Regular Music, Active Events, Craft Management, A Modern Way Management, Ironworks Venue, Asgard, ATC Live and Fly Events. The Taskforce also includes the Scottish Music Industry Association and has its full support.

The Taskforce welcomes the Scottish Government’s £10M package for performing arts venues and the UK Government’s £1.57B investment for cultural, arts and heritage institutions. We write with a specific request for support for commercial music businesses who are on their knees through no fault of their own.

The first meeting of the group identified the following serious issues:

Scottish music businesses are still falling through the gaps of existing UK and Scottish Government schemes. These businesses encompass the most experienced in our industry and are at imminent risk of closure or at least will need to let experienced staff go. This risks the loss of critical infrastructure, knowledge and skills which will significantly limit our ability to recover and continue to provide career development pathways for Scottish artists.

There has been a lack of consultation with the commercial music sector on its needs. For example the announcement on Friday 3 July of a £10M rescue package for performing arts venues is very welcome but the group note that it is unclear if it will benefit commercial music venues.

Funding schemes administered by Creative Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise do not prioritise the activities of the Scottish commercial music sector. While the commercial music sector has never collectively asked for support, the list of signatories to this letter evidences the sector forms a critical part of our cultural infrastructure offering resilience, contributing towards local economies and cultural tourism which in turn benefits the wider Scottish economy.

To support the Scottish music industry to survive and thrive we urge the Scottish Government to:

Establish a Culture & Creative Industries Infrastructure Fund with the £97M from the UK Government and ensure Scottish commercial music businesses can access this to support survival and promote recovery.

Consult and work in partnership with the Scottish Commercial Music Industry Taskforce to ensure support for arts and culture takes into account the needs of the commercial music sector including how funding being made available is administered.

Provide a clear, conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing and press the UK Government to deliver a full VAT exemption on ticket sales and review the need for further business and employment support in the future should live music have to remain suspended beyond six months.

Fulfill the Music Venue Trust and the Scottish members of the Music Venues Alliance's request for specific funding for GMVs.

We recognise and welcome the additional targeted measures that the Scottish Government has taken to address gaps in UK schemes to protect Scotland’s arts and culture sector. However, the Scottish commercial music industry has unique needs and operates within different parameters from the not for profit / subsidised sector and we urge you to address these as a matter of priority and before it is too late.

ARTISTS

Biffy Clyro

Deacon Blue

Del Amitri

Denis Sulta

Eclair FiFi

Eddi Reader

Fatherson's Ross Leighton. Picture: Callum Mackay
Fatherson's Ross Leighton. Picture: Callum Mackay

Fatherson

Honeyblood

Idlewild

Julie Fowlis

Kathryn Joseph

KT Tunstall

Mogwai

Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, Ironworks. Picture: Callum Mackay
Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, Ironworks. Picture: Callum Mackay

Primal Scream

Simple Minds

SLAM

Teenage Fanclub

Texas

The Proclaimers

Proclaimer Charlie Reid. Picture: Callum Mackay
Proclaimer Charlie Reid. Picture: Callum Mackay

The Twilight Sad

The View

Wet Wet Wet

Glasvegas

BOOKING AGENCIES

Active Events

Asgard

ATC Live

Offsite Productions

TwentyTwo Promotions

FESTIVALS

Belladrum Festival

Edinburgh & Glasgow Summer Sessions

FLY Festival

HebCelt Festival

Knockengorroch Festival

Riverside Festival

Skye Live Festival

Terminal V

TRNSMT Festival

Industry Organisations

Music Venue Trust

Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA)

Traditional Music Forum

LABELS

Rock Action Records

Soma Recordings Ltd

MANAGEMENT COMPANIES

A Modern Way Management (representing Idlewild, Fatherson, Zoe Graham)

Craft Management (Mogwai, Twilight Sad, Kathryn Joseph)

GR MANAGEMENT (Texas, Primal Screm)

Kingdom Management (Lucia & The Best Boys, Aaron Smith, The Ninth Wave)

No Half Measures (Wet Wet Wet, Hue & Cry)

PROMOTERS

432 PRESENTS

Beyond Presents Ltd

CPL Live / Hold Fast Ents

DF Concerts

Electronic Edinburgh

FLY Events

PCL Presents

Regular Music

SLAM EVENTS LTD

Unique Events ltd

PRODUCTION COMPANIES

Adlib Audio

Blackbox audio

ESP music rentals.

Glasgow Stage Crew

Showtec

Studios

Chem19

Post Electric Studio

VENUES

70 grassroots music venues (members of the Music Venue Alliance)

Edinburgh Corn Exchange

Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom

Hopetoun House

Ironworks

King Tuts

Liquid Room

Royal Highland Centre

Scottish Event Campus

Sub Club

SWG3

P&J LIVE

OTHER SECTORS

Birnam CD Limited

EmuBands

G4S

Ticketmaster Scotland

Tickets scotland ltd

The Tour Company


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