Chris Markland – Tour Manager gives us his response to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Road Map for reopening.
Finally, we have some sort of idea on what the year is looking light. Whilst we welcome at least some sort of clarity there are certain areas that still need addressing.
Firstly, the limit on attendance at outdoor events of 50% is going to effectively rule out most productions. Usual breakeven figures run at 75 to 80 % ticket sales and at 50% then these events will run at a loss.
This will mean that to cover costs and to turn any sort of profit promoters and organisers will have to hike tickets to levels that will deter a large portion of the prospective audience.
In addition to this, the main demographic at these shows is from 40 downwards. Now this group are going to be the last to have the vaccine and this could place another hurdle to ticket sales.
Now with the advances in rapid testing that are in place and the reported figures on 75% of population having had the jab by May is it not beyond the realms of possibility that a test or vaccine ‘passport’ system could be put in place?
This would enable venues (that are on the brink of collapse) and an industry that is on its knees the chance to get back in business.
The other option would be for the government to subsidise events until 100% capacities are allowed. This could be in the form of tax breaks or an easing of administration fees such as licensing. And a govt insurance scheme that would offer cheaper event insurance to partly compensate for the reduced income.
We particularly welcome the ‘trials’ mooted for April to work out the best way forward and would ask that these include the possibility of bringing forward, either 100% attendance (probably using rapid testing or vaccine passports) or financial support.
It needs bringing to the table that with the Brexit rules on foreign artists being as they are the UK is the only viable market for many acts to work in, so every effort must be made to ensure that this is economically possible. 50% attendances simply will not work.
If the vaccination figures are as published in the press and from Government communications, then what are the reasons for the attendance caps?
The Prime minister always said that once the burden on NHS was at an acceptable level then restrictions would be lifted. Now that the vulnerable have been protected and with the availability of rapid testing surely it’s time to give our industry the chance to get back on its feet?
Lastly the press need to play a part. The economy as a whole is in trouble and we must get people back out. We MUST stop the banner headlines and hysteria about new variants and ‘spikes’ which keep people afraid and reluctant to go about their daily lives. They need to focus more on the positives and the need to kick start the whole of the country’s economy and whilst I am far from a fan of the Govt, the time for recrimination is not now. Now we need to get things moving.
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