Last week, Digital Music News was first to report that Van Morrison had launched the Lockdown Financial Hardship Fund to assist musicians who’re struggling financially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, just five days later, the Fund is already oversubscribed.
Van Morrison and his team announced the conclusion of the Lockdown Financial Hardship Fund’s first phase this morning, in a formal message that was shared with DMN. According to the “Into the Mystic” singer and songwriter, “overwhelming demand” resulted in the quick oversubscription of the Fund, which will provide eligible full-time musicians with payments of about $658 (£500).
The Ivor Novello Award-winning artist proceeded to indicate that the Lockdown Financial Hardship Fund is scheduled to initiate a second phase “in early 2021,” before encouraging prospective applicants to check his social-media channels for future updates. Additionally, Van Morrison, who is bankrolling the Fund with profits from his trio of lockdown-protest tracks, took aim at the UK government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
“It is clear that the UK government’s announced £1.57 billion [$2.07 billion] Culture Recovery Fund is not filtering through to all those who really need it,” the 75-year-old said of the once-off aid package, which is reaching an array of cultural landmarks and establishments (not solely music venues and professionals). “Many of those who have contacted us have not received any financial assistance at all since restrictions were put in place in March.
“Those in receipt of grants barely received enough to make it through a single month. Nine months later they are facing extreme financial hardship with no clear indication of when they will be allowed to return to work,” continued ‘Van the Man.’
Van Morrison also encouraged supporters to sign the petition he debuted alongside the Lockdown Financial Hardship Fund, calling for the government in his native Northern Ireland “to approve applied safety measures allowing the recommencement of live music.” At the time of this writing, the Northern Ireland Executive hadn’t issued a response to the petition on social media or on its website.
Multiple surveys, including from participants in the UK and the States, have shed light upon the unprecedented financial difficulties and career challenges that musicians are grappling with due to the pandemic. 55 percent of British professional musicians told Help Musicians last month that they aren’t earning anything from music presently, and a large number of UK-based musicians are considering permanently leaving the industry.
One week ago, the British government unveiled a new collection of lockdown restrictions, which went into effect on Thursday, November 5th, and will remain in place through at least Wednesday, December 2nd. Theaters and concert halls are included on the long list of establishments “which must close” under the controversial order.
Northern Ireland, for its part, is allowing concert halls and theaters to open their doors only “for rehearsals or a live recording without an audience,” in an order that will run through at least Friday, November 13th.