Late last month, following the release of a study indicating that the British live music industry stands to lose nearly 170,000 jobs by 2020’s end, vocal venue-lockdown critic Van Morrison lamented the ‘decimation of a sector.’ Now, the 75-year-old has established ‘The Lockdown Financial Hardship Fund’ to help musicians who’re struggling financially.
Van Morrison and his team unveiled ‘The Lockdown Financial Hardship Fund’ today, in a formal release that was shared with Digital Music News. Utilizing profits generated by the two-time Grammy winner’s trio of lockdown-protest tracks – “Born to Be Free,” “As I Walked Out,” and “No More Lockdown” – the Fund will distribute one-time payments of about $650 (£500) to musicians who’re having a difficult time making ends meet amid the pandemic.
Eligibility-wise, unemployed or self-employed musicians who earn more than 50 percent of their income from performing live music, are over the age of 16, and reside in the United Kingdom or Ireland, are encouraged to apply for the aid. Applicants must also disclose proof of their professional status, and the Van Morrison Official Rhythm and Blues Foundation (a registered charity) is overseeing the compensation’s distribution.
Additionally, the “Have I Told You Lately” singer and songwriter rolled out a petition calling on the government of his native Northern Ireland “to support in word and deed, a timeline and roadmap for the recommencement of live music.” The firmly worded text emphasizes the far-reaching economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdown measures, including the latter’s “needlessly crippling the livelihoods” of performers and behind-the-scenes professionals.
From there, the document notes the “millions of pounds” that venues have spent to accommodate socially distanced audiences and the exacerbated financial difficulties they’re facing presently. The petition also highlights lockdown’s broader impact – “Without a thriving private sector, there will be no taxes to sustain public sector funding” – and states that some “pilot” concerts have already taken place in the UK.
“It is vital for the industry, and for the long-term physical and mental health of society that venues are allowed to reopen for live music,” the petition proceeds towards its conclusion. “With no end to restrictions in sight, we must be able to operate in a way that allows us to reopen now.”
Last week, a German study found that indoor concerts can proceed safely with certain precautions – including masks and proper ventilation – in place. And Ticketmaster, for its part, released a “social distance seating tool” and other assets designed to help venues accommodate fans. Lastly, a discouraging survey revealed in September that 64 percent of UK musicians are considering leaving the industry.