On Wednesday 30 September, Birmingham’s Town Hall was lit red at 8PM as part of the #LightItInRed campaign, to symbolise the current danger that over one million people in the live events industry face.
For more than 180 years, Town Hall has been a hub of civic and cultural life in Birmingham having featured artists such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Nina Simone and many more. Alongside venues and buildings across 28 countries, today Birmingham’s historic concert venue joined the #LightItInRed campaign to highlight the critical condition of the live events industry and issue a ‘Red Alert’ to government and the press.
The live events sector employs over a million highly skilled professionals in the UK, most of whom have had no work since March 2020. The sector supports a huge supply chain of companies ranging from event production, audio, lighting, video, logistics, planning, transportation and some of the world’s leading technology manufacturers.
Town Hall and Symphony Hall entered a period of redundancy consultation with staff in July 2020, following an extended period of closure as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. This period of closure has already resulted in huge losses and it is still unclear as to when it may be possible to re-open. In order to have a chance of survival, the music charity responsible for the two Birmingham concert halls took the painful decision to reduce staff in anticipation of the continuing uncertainty ahead.
Earlier this year, I applauded the superb team of staff at our venues who care passionately about what they do and who openly share their love of live music with everyone that we connect with as a music charity. Over the last few years we have evolved into an organisation that earns more than 90% of its turnover from our trading activities and this supports every aspect of what we do, from presenting international superstars on our stages to supporting emerging talent and creating first musical experiences for children in local schools. I am proud to see Town Hall join the #LightItInRed campaign tonight and join our industry voices in raising awareness for the dire situation currently being faced by the live events industry. Our sector was the first to be hit by the pandemic and without help it won’t survive. The job support scheme will not adequately support a sector that is not allowed to work: we need urgent and targeted action from the government now.Nick Reed, Chief Executive for the music charity responsible for Town Hall and Symphony Hall
UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. As a sector, the music industry contributes £4.5billion in gross value added each year. But the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant the future for venues, concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak. When this global pandemic struck, Town Hall and Symphony Hall’s income stopped overnight.
Beyond the 800 events and performances on our stages every year, the music charity responsible for Town Hall and Symphony Hall provide life-changing experiences to over 18,000 young people and adults including a first-class talent development programme. Every day that Town Hall and Symphony Hall are closed puts the livelihood of musicians, artists, emerging talent, staff and suppliers in jeopardy.
A survey conducted by the Music Venues Trust revealed that only 13% of venues could open with 2-metre social distancing in place and of those the majority said it would be financially ruinous to do so due to the reduced number of attendees.
The management team at Town Hall and Symphony Hall have made applications to the government schemes announced and support the industry calls to the government for a three-year extension to the reduced cultural vat rate on tickets in line with DCMS recommendations.