It's time to rethink how we fund live music
According to a recent poll only 6% of people want to return to the same type of economy as before the pandemic. People are tired of feeling tired all the time and fed up of the rat race. I think they want to look after themselves, the planet and each other.
Is it any wonder live gig attendances have gone down so much in the last 10 years? People are working twice as hard as ever before, have less money to spend due to austerity, and even if they had the energy they are charged more than ever before to do anything fun or worthwhile.
The coronavirus has given us all the opportunity to take stock. Can you work from home? Do you have to do the same hours as everyone else? Do we really need to spend all of our money on consumer shite? Maybe we will appreciate more what we cant have now.
The continued shutdown of the arts is a convenient consequence of the pandemic for our government who don't want you to go out and learn and experience new things. Going to gigs, open mic nights, poetry readings, and comedy nights teaches you things they'd rather you didn't know.
No I don't think we should open up venues right now - you cant social distance in that environment and we will see more spike in cases. BUT we should use this time push for proper funding and long term security for venues and artists.
There will be opportunities for people to have more free time and more money that are borne out of the pandemic. And people want change, they don't want to go back to normal. So lets find ways work together to bring about long-term change and re-open the arts for everyone.
What if venues were properly funded and didn't have to charge bands to rent rooms and sound engineers? What if bands were properly funded allowing more people to put more focus into their art and not the day job they hate.
Why can't we fund the scene and give it the boost it needs to appeal to everyone in a way that's affordable for all. Every penny invested will eventually pay for itself and over in the tax it generates if culture became a prominent part of the way we engage with society.
The live music scene in the UK puts £5bn into the economy right now. Imagine how a cash injection now to help move the scene from struggling to comfortable could increase that number. People want change lets give them change. So how do we do this? Suggestions welcome.
The Music Venue Trust have written this open letter to the government which with the right support could go some way towards achieving the goals I've outlined. You should send this to your MP.
But I want more. I want artist support, development opportunities, and a level playing field for all. Proper investment. I'm still composing my thoughts on this, but keen to hear thoughts of others as well as suggestions and links to existing projects or movements.
My final thought - for now at least - comes from this interview with @billybragg in the NME where he talks more generally about music. "It’s about empathy." he says, "we can’t just dismiss it as entertainment. When we come out the other side of this, I think we’ll appreciate these things a lot more.”