Plea for government help as Omicron cuts audiences by 27%
Audiences for live events have fallen by 27% since the Omicron Covid variant appeared according to the Music Venue Trust, with also showing gross income for venues down by 27%.
The government’s advice to reduce social contract is being blamed for the significant pre-Christmas drop at time of year when full auditoria usually provide vital income to keep the rest of the year’s accounts buoyant.
“The uncertainty and instability for these institutions as they move into 2022 will undoubtedly be felt throughout the sector, with questions marks over exhibitions and performances leading to a loss of work for artists, performers and other creative practitioners” said Caroline Norbury of Creative UK. “While acceleration of the booster rollout in an effort to combat the rise in cases is welcome, it is clear that targeted emergency support is urgently needed to stabilise the current situation for those hardest hit.”
The organisation, recently formed by an amalgamation of the Creative Industries Federation and Culture UK, is calling on the government to provide:
* Financial assistance for freelancers – a significant part of the creative workforce – impacted by loss of work, self-isolation and illness, and a return of the furlough scheme for those impacted in full-time employment.
* Urgent support for businesses unable to maintain their income in the coming months, including the extension of the culture recovery fund and grants for small businesses unable to access this support. Treasury should also release money to the devolved governments to ensure that the creative industries in the nations are able to navigate more stringent pandemic regulations.
* Extension of business rate relief exemptions in England from 67% to 100%, and repayments delayed, with the UK government following the examples set by the devolved administrations.
* Certainty that the government’s Live Events Reinsurance Scheme covers the situation arising from Omicron and COVID-19 related cancellations.
* A reintroduction of the 5% emergency VAT rate for live events and removal of the planned VAT hike to 20% in April 2022.