Further government support needed for suffering music sector as Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme not fit for purpose, ISM’s flash survey reveals

· Over a third of respondents said they would have to make employees redundant if their loan application is unsuccessful or further delayed and over 25% said they were at risk of closure.

· None of the organisations, who applied for the loan, have received a ‘yes’ to their applications at the time of the survey.

The ISM’s latest flash survey, which focuses on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), has revealed businesses and organisations in the music sector are at significant risk due to lack of robust and timely financial support.

Of all of the music businesses and organisations that completed the survey, not one reported a successful application to the CBILS scheme. Almost half of the respondents are still waiting to hear the outcome of their application, despite some having applied in March.

More than a third reported that if they do not receive financial support within as little as a week, they will need to make their entire workforce redundant. Over 25% said they are at risk of complete closure.

Comments from respondents included:

‘Applied on March 23. Sent holding email. Absolutely zero response back since then... nearly a month now’

‘Slow and challenging, we are expected to use their "language", whilst they have no comprehension of ours!’

‘Poor. 4 weeks since applying and still no response from my bank. It has just been poor all round at every level’

‘The government package has not been useful to small businesses - has not helped us. In order to get any help we would need to register to pay rates, which would have other implications for our income. All very unhelpful.’

‘Lack of communication has been the worst thing. Pretty disgusting the Government offering the funding and then the banks pretty much refusing to lend.’

This flash survey further demonstrates the severe financial impact of COVID-19 on music businesses and organisations as first revealed in an earlier ISM survey in April. 83% reported that COVID-19 was having a significant negative impact on their business or organisation with over a third at imminent risk of failing due to the current crisis.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said:

The results of the ISM’s latest flash survey demonstrates that the CBILS scheme is not fit for purpose and is putting the music sector at significant financial risk.

COVID-19 has already had a devastating impact on the music sector with many venues and theatres having closed their doors, festivals and concerts being cancelled and many of the music workforce having lost work overnight. The music sector will feel the long-lasting effects of this crisis even when the lockdown is lifted, as it is unlikely that normal activities will resume, particularly if social distancing rules are still in place and mass gatherings are not permitted.

The UK Government has overlooked the music sector and creative industries during this crisis but is providing financial support up to £10 million to the fishing industry to prevent its collapse. The fishing industry contributes £1.4 billion to the UK economy compared to the music industry which is worth £5.2 billion and together with the creative industries is worth £111.7 billion. The same financial intervention should be granted to the arts when it is clear how critical they are to the UK economy and its soft power.

We thank all the organisations who responded to this survey. The ISM will continue to engage with Government on behalf of the sector to ensure sufficient support is given to all that desperately need it.