Northern Ireland effectively bans live music

Cancelled event

New Covid restrictions imposed by the Northern Ireland Executive have effectively banned live music across the region, according to the Musicians’ Union (MU).

The MU and UK Music have written in the strongest terms to the Executive denouncing the restrictions for the damage they say they will cause to cultural life, the economy and the work of their members in Northern Ireland.

The MU claims that the music industry contributes almost £70 million every year to the Northern Irish Gross Value Added (GVA) to the local economy and a further £8 million through music-related income. It also provides income for associated businesses, pubs, venues, caterers, lighting and sound technicians, equipment hire and more. So, the MU expresses bafflement about the Executive’s orders.

‘It’s hard to understand why, with the correct social distancing measures in place, live music can’t take place in Northern Ireland,’ says Dave Webster, National Organiser for Live Performance.

‘Musicians have suffered acutely throughout this crisis with their livelihoods completely disappearing in the vast majority of cases,’ adds the MU Regional Organiser for Norther Ireland, Caroline Sewell. ‘We are keen to hear from the Executive and to gain an understanding of the evidence that has driven this decision.’

UK Music has echoed the Union’s concerns. Tom Kiehl, the Acting CEO, said, ‘UK Music asks the Northern Ireland Executive to reconsider this ban and support actions that will aid music’s eventual recovery.’

The MU has recently published a survey showing one third of members have received no help from either the Job Retention Scheme or the Self Employment Income Support Scheme and even more are considering giving up their music career entirely.

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