What is the purpose of cultural venues being open if cultural activities are not being permitted to take place?

This week we were pleased to welcome the announcement that Wales would move to alert level 2 of the Welsh Government reopening plan.

In that plan, Welsh Government clearly laid out that concert halls, including grassroots music venues, would be permitted to open and the First Minister has confirmed that as of Monday, May 17, “that journey can start”.

As our members began contacting their local authority partners to agree on safety and security measures, in line with the best practice Music Venue Trust Revive Live risk management and risk mitigation process, it became clear that those partners did not agree that live music would be able to take place as no government guidance had been issued to say performances were permitted.

The grassroots music venue sector, and the artists and audiences that love and rely on these spaces, are in a chaotic situation.

The alert level for reopening these venues with socially distanced measures has been achieved, but live music is not being permitted and no guidance is being issued.

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Welsh grassroots music venues can be open, but live music cannot take place. Bizarrely, with the planned reopening of English grassroots music venues with live music, and the removal of travel restrictions for Welsh residents, Welsh audiences can see live music, but not in Welsh venues.

This situation is plainly against the interests of Welsh venues, artists and audiences. It is also counter-intuitive for the protection of public health.

Residents of Wrexham (current rate per 100,000 of 4.5) cannot see live music in their own city, but can travel 13 miles to Chester (current rate per 100,000 of 38.5) to see live music.

The failure to make live music available in their own city to residents of Wrexham will not reduce demand for live music – in a recent survey of 25,000 live music fans, 78 per cent stated they were ready to return to live music immediately if appropriate mitigations are in place.

The failure to deliver Alert Level 2 for cultural activities will simply prompt live music fans to seek it elsewhere. The outcome is that Welsh Government policy is effectively to promote the consumption of live music in England.

This situation must be resolved immediately. Welsh Government must:

n Issue coherent guidance for the performing arts (including removing the limits on singing and wind instruments to acknowledge updated scientific guidance and bring Wales into line with other nations, both in the UK and around the world).

n Clarify restrictions and establish a clear date on which Welsh audiences can see Welsh artists play in Welsh grassroots music venues.

n If this is not to be delivered, as previously indicated, as a result of achieving alert level 2, Welsh Government must indicate when it will be achieved.

We have the data, we now need the date.

Welsh grassroots music venues have the skills and professionalism to safely and securely Revive Live. They now need Welsh Government to state clearly when they will have the opportunity.