Sheffield music industry boss demands government ‘proves the risk’ after Freedom Day delay
A Sheffield music industry boss has demanded to know ‘how much of a risk we pose’ after the government delayed ‘Freedom Day’ by a month.
Penny Blackham, chair of Sheffield City Region Music Board, urged ministers to share the results of large scale trial events in Liverpool, Sheffield and Donnington.
She said the delay was a ‘devastating blow’ to a sector that was hanging on by a thread.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushed back the lifting of Covid restrictions from June 21 to July 19 due to an increase in cases.
Ms Blackham added: “People have highlighted how important music is and has been to their wellbeing throughout this pandemic and beyond, but the government have shown wilful ignorance as to the needs our industry and what clarity, information and support it needs to survive these times.
“I implore the government release the full report of the results of the test cases trialled already in Liverpool, Sheffield and this weekend Donnington.
“We need to understand how much of a risk we pose to the welfare of the public by carrying out our occupations and businesses. Occupations that are still facing the most severe of restrictions!
“I also call on the government to meet with the industry and its leading trade bodies to discuss the implications of this unknown timeframe and the issues that arrive from it. It is imperative they finally develop an understanding of how our industry works and just how many tens of thousands of people’s jobs are now at risk.
“The Treasury needs to add structured and ongoing support that meets the very specific needs of the industry if there is to be any shred of music industry and festival culture that survives this pandemic.
“We need clarity of what we are able to do, where we can do it, how many people can participate and what the risks are (if any) as demonstrated by the trial events of the previous few weeks.”
Rose Wilcox, head of programming at the Leadmill nightclub in Sheffield, said rescheduling and reorganising a number of events was a huge blow which meant continued loss of income during a time of year they relied on.
She added: “Our sector is losing over 4,000 events over the next month and that is extended to staff, workers and artists losing out on much needed event work.
“It is a huge blow! We hope that there will be support announced very shortly for our sector.”
Barnsley wedding photographer Charlotte Kaye said she was pleased the 30-guest restriction had been lifted but she was waiting to see the full guidance.
“If evening receptions are not permitted, I'm still in a position where my couples may ask for a shorter time coverage which could affect business.”
Daniel Fell, chief executive at Doncaster Chamber, urged the government to find additional support for businesses that, through no fault of their own, ‘cannot open or trade profitably as a result of this latest extension’.
He added: “We would urge Government to give clear assurances about intentions to keep the UK’s economy open from the summer onwards and to confirm that they have no expectations of going back to further damaging lockdowns in the autumn and winter.”