'Freedom Day' delay could be 'fatal' to music industry in Sheffield region

South Yorkshire’s music industry could be dealt a ‘fatal’ blow if opening up is delayed, a senior figure has claimed.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 12:40 pm

Penny Blackham, chair of the Sheffield City Region Music Board, said firms were hanging on by a thread and needed to start ‘selling to capacity’ as fast as possible.

Many nightclubs and music venues have been closed for more than a year due to Covid.

And she called on government to provide clarity on whether the last remaining restrictions would be lifted on June 21.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

A socially distanced event at The Leadmill nightclub in Sheffield.

On ‘Freedom Day’, pubs, clubs and theatres are due to be able to operate without capacity limits and nightclubs will be able to reopen.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says a final announcement will be made on Monday June 14.

Downing Street has said there was ‘nothing in the data’ to suggest a delay would be needed. But the spread of the Delta variant has raised fears it might be forced into a U-turn.

Ms Blackham said: “The music industry has felt the full force of this pandemic. Businesses are now hanging on by a thread and we need to get venues and festivals selling to capacity as soon as possible.

“However, we also recognise that this must be done safely, therefore if a delay to full reopening is likely, it is critical this information is circulated as soon as possible.

“We do not operate in a world where we can just open the doors at a couple of days’ notice. An artist, a venue, a festival and all the production professionals involved need to know what is ahead as soon as possible.

“Equipment needs to be hired, trucks, vans and coaches need to be booked, deposits and fees need to be paid. If there is uncertainty, then no one can financially risk taking the necessary steps for re-opening.

“Any delay could prove economically fatal to the music industry now and the lack of clarity is making the path ahead very challenging.”

Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis said businesses must have support if a delay as announced.

He added: “Many clubs and music venues have already sold tickets and hired staff in preparation.

“While the government may need to delay that date, given the worrying rise in infection rates, they must also ensure businesses get the support they need.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Please take out a digital subscription or buy a paper.

Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.