Bradley

'Take action before it's too late'

Norwich musician Matt Waton has wriiten an open letter appealing for help to save the live music scene. Picture: Alexandra Bone Photography

Norwich musician Matt Waton has wriiten an open letter appealing for help to save the live music scene. Picture: Alexandra Bone Photography

Alexandra Bone Photography

A Norfolk musician has written an open letter making an impassioned appeal for more help to save the live music industry.

Gigs have had to be cancelled at the LCR UEA in Norwich since March. Picture: Lee HarperGigs have had to be cancelled at the LCR UEA in Norwich since March. Picture: Lee Harper

Norwich singer-songwriter and multi instrumentalist Matt Watson said he feared action was needed now to save thousands of jobs that rely on live music and the wider arts.

With most live music venues dark and silent, and coronavirus restrictions getting tighter, it’s not clear when they will be reopening their doors. Gigs remain subject to safety measures and social distancing restrictions.

Mr Watson, who also works as a freelance tour manager, stage manager and sound technician, said the thousands of jobs were at risk in an industry that contributed £2.8 billion in taxation to the treasury last year.

Crowds at the Radio 1 Big Weekend at Earlham Park but coronavirus has stopped all mass agetherings hitting the live music industry. Picture: Antony KellyCrowds at the Radio 1 Big Weekend at Earlham Park but coronavirus has stopped all mass agetherings hitting the live music industry. Picture: Antony Kelly

In his letter aimed at the government and MPs, he states: “I don’t want to sound dramatic but this is the hard truth. If we do not take direct and immediate action we will lose some rarified skill sets and some incredible arts and live entertainment spaces forever.

“There will be no turning back for so many. Please take action before it’s too late. What kind of society or government allows so many to lose their livelihoods like this?”

Earlier this summer hundreds of musicians, including Sir Tom Jones and Little Mix who had both been due to play big shows in Norwich, shared footage from their last live gig to demand government support for the music industry.

Matt Watson performing live with Ian Prowse. Picture: Richard ShashamaneMatt Watson performing live with Ian Prowse. Picture: Richard Shashamane

Artists, venues, festivals and production companies used the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay, with fans also posting in a show of support.

The campaign comes after 1,500 acts signed an open letter, addressed to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, warning of “mass insolvencies” across the UK’s industry due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Watson said restrictions on live performance not only affected musicians like himself, but also people in jobs ranging from technical staff to equipment hirers, caterers and haulage companies.

The live music scene supports thousands of jobs including technicians. Picture: Denise BradleyThe live music scene supports thousands of jobs including technicians. Picture: Denise Bradley

Transam Trucking, based on the Eye Business Park, near Diss, which provides trucks for tours by some of the biggest names in music, from Iron Maiden to Westlife, has been forced to furlough dozens of drivers.

Company director Natasha Highcroft said: “Almost overnight all our work went away. The summer is usually our busiest time of the year. We would have all of our trucks out, plus subcontractors, so for the summer to go is a massive loss.”

UK Music, which represents the industry, has welcomed chancellor Rishi Sunak’s emergency jobs scheme to replace the current furlough scheme which ends on October 31. But it highlighted the lack of direct support for the music industry.

Norwich musician Matt Waton has wriiten an open letter appealing for help to save the live music scene. Picture: Alexandra Bone PhotographyNorwich musician Matt Waton has wriiten an open letter appealing for help to save the live music scene. Picture: Alexandra Bone Photography

UK Music Acting CEO Tom Kiehl said: “We welcome the extension of government support to safeguard jobs beyond the end of the existing furlough scheme.

“However, there appears to be little to give comfort to the many talented people in the music industry who are key to our entrepreneurial future.

“We need special arrangements and sector specific support for the music industry where 72pc of the workforce are self-employed until our industry can get back on its feet.”

OPEN LETTER BY MATT WATSON

You’ll probably know me as local Norwich singer-songwriter, The Magic Es guitarist and musician Matt Watson.

Sir Tom Jones performing at Holkham. He is among the big names to have appeal for help to support live music. Picture Simon ParkerSir Tom Jones performing at Holkham. He is among the big names to have appeal for help to support live music. Picture Simon Parker

But I am also a freelance, self employed tour manager, stage manager and sound tech amongst the many others hats we all now have to wear to survive on any normal day in the arts industry.

I found myself today, speaking on behalf of that highly skilled community on BBC Radio Norfolk. In light of the fact today there has been many, including many well known members of the music world, such as Frank Turner and Elbow, making public the ‘#We Make Events’ campaign and action known today across social media and in the press.

You may also want to watch:

In this conversation I openly called on our MPs to be doing far more to highlight our plight, due to Covid-19.

I call out the government and it’s frankly inept support from both sides of the political spectrum.

It seems Conservative and opposition alike, and of course PM Boris Johnson, are clearly ignoring this huge industry, that I’d like to point out, contributed £2.8 billion in taxation to the treasury last year alone.

Let’s look a little deeper at those numbers shall we? An industry that in 2019 contributed £10.8 billion, an industry whose productivity between 2006 and 2016 was greater than that of the UK economy as a whole?

It grew by £390 billion a year. One of our biggest exports globally!

An industry that employs one third of a million people. An industry that behind the scenes supports even more industry and workers from other sectors such as hospitality and so on.

The list is long. Trucking, caterers, riggers, lighting techs, sound techs, box office staff, ushers, promotional staff, venue management, caretakers, rehearsal spaces, recording studios, equipment providers, hire and repairs, van hire, drivers, runners, photographers, filmographers, editors, science communicators, educational shows for schools….the list goes on and on. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

These people allow culture, arts, museums and much more to exist. Yet it’s like we don’t exist.

Now some may argue “it’s only the arts”. Ok well, think for one moment about spending a day without art around you in some form or another during your daily life.

Radio, literature, design and artworks.

Who makes the sound work on the radio? Who films those shows on TV? Who writes the scripts, the poetry, the books, the plays?? And who subsequently has the skill set to create these beautiful and enriching things in our society?

Norwich itself as a city is incredibly rich in the arts from Norwich Arts Centre through to the Playhouse, The Brickmakers, Epic, The Waterfront. The many galleries and museums.

The wonderfully rich local hospitality industry that will rely in part on theatre and gig goers. Many of whom are local, independent businesses.

We have an incredible Norwich University of the Arts. We have a thriving unique and eclectic music scene. Independent venues and theatres. A deep, rich history of culture lines the lanes and alleys ways of our fine city as I know it does in so many others across the UK.

Real jewels in our crown and serious providers towards our local economies.

Now I say this with a heavy heart. And I don’t want to sound dramatic but this is the hard truth.

If we do not take direct and immediate action we will lose some rarified skill sets, some incredible arts and live entertainment spaces forever.

There will be no turning back for so, so many.

Do we want a world for our children bereft of culture or the ability to express themselves? Is this the future the government wants?

So I ask now. Please listen. Please take action before it’s too late. What kind of society is it without art?

What kind of society or government allows so many to lose their livelihoods like this?

Enough is enough.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Recycling meets reality

If your neighborhood is like most locales in the United States, there’s a thing that’s hard to unsee once you notice: The trucks that empty your blue recycling bin look just like the trucks that collect your trash.
So – they are taking your stuff to be…

Grant Group acquires Empire

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The Grant Group of Companies (GGC), which specializes in the haulage of construction materials, has acquired Empire Transportation of Grimsby, Ont.The financial details were not disclosed.
GGC specializes in the transportation of co…

7 things to do in Norfolk this weekend: September 12 to 13

The Nearly Festival Garden Party, which has been adapted for social distancing, is one of the events taking place this weekend in Norfolk, this picture is from the 2019 event in Oulton Broad. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Nearly Festival Garden Party, which has been adapted for social distancing, is one of the events taking place this weekend in Norfolk, this picture is from the 2019 event in Oulton Broad. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

From socially-distanced music festivals to a free market, there is plenty to keep you entertained in Norfolk this weekend.

Wild Fields Festival is heading to the Norfolk Showground and is a two-day socially-distanced event Picture: Supplied by Wild FieldsWild Fields Festival is heading to the Norfolk Showground and is a two-day socially-distanced event Picture: Supplied by Wild Fields

1. What: Wild Fields Festival

Where: Norfolk Showground, Dereham Road, New Costessey, NR5 0TT

When: September 12 to 13, 12pm to 11pm

Cost: Day tickets from £30, weekend tickets from £45 (both + booking fee), wildpaths.co.uk/wildfields

Wild Paths Festival launched last October with over 200 acts performing at 23 venues over four days, celebrating both local and international talent. The event was cancelled this year due to coronavirus, but organiser Ben Street is making sure music fans don’t miss out with a new socially-distanced version of the festival called Wild Fields. The biggest names on the line-up are KOKOROKO, Gengahr, Joe Armon-Jones, Another Sky and Olivia Dean and to keep audiences safe, there will be roped off zones spaced two metres apart for groups of up to six and marshalled queues for the food stalls, bars and toilets.

Dragon Hall in Norwich is one of the venues taking part in Norfolk Heritage Open Days Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDragon Hall in Norwich is one of the venues taking part in Norfolk Heritage Open Days Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

2. What: Heritage Open Days

Where: Various locations across Norfolk

When: September 11 to 20

Cost: All free, see the full programme at norfolkheritageopendays.co.uk

Explore Norfolk’s hidden gems for free as the Heritage Open Days festival, a nationwide celebration of history and culture, returns for 2020. Due to coronavirus and social distancing restrictions, the festival includes online activities to accompany traditional in-person events for the first time. Highlights include a heritage photo walk at the Former RAF Coltishall, the chance to explore Bishop’s House Garden in Norwich and botanical drawing for beginners in Thetford.

Interlude Fringe is part of Interlude, which is running for six weeks in Chapelfield Gardens and has been organised by Norwich Theatre and circus company Lost in Translation Picture: James RandleInterlude Fringe is part of Interlude, which is running for six weeks in Chapelfield Gardens and has been organised by Norwich Theatre and circus company Lost in Translation Picture: James Randle

3. What: Interlude Fringe

Where: Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich, NR2 1RP

When: September 13, 10am to 6pm

Cost: £15 for the day, 01603 630000, norwichtheatre.org

This event is a collaboration between Norwich Theatre and Norwich Fringe and it is part of Interlude, a six-week programme of live shows in a big top tent. Local acts will come together for a day of live music, comedy and theatre and all ticket sales will go directly to the artists performing, thanks to generous donations made as part of Norwich Theatre’s Crisis Appeal. See the full line-up for the day and timings on the Norwich Theatre website.

The Nearly Festival Garden Party is one of the events you can attend this weekend, this picture is from 2018 when the event was held in Chapelfield Gardens. Picture: Nick ButcherThe Nearly Festival Garden Party is one of the events you can attend this weekend, this picture is from 2018 when the event was held in Chapelfield Gardens. Picture: Nick Butcher

4. What: Nearly Festival Garden Party

Where: Wensum Valley Hotel Golf & Country Club, Beech Avenue, Taverham, NR8 6HP

When: September 12, 12pm to 8pm, September 13, 12pm to 7pm

Cost: Day tickets, over-14s £20, children (5 to 14) £7.50, under-5s free, weekend tickets sold out, gardenparties.musthavetickets.co.uk

This popular festival, which in previous years has come to parks across East Anglia, is back for 2020 and will present some of the UK’s finest tribute acts of legendary performers and groups such as Elton John, Oasis and on Sunday there is a Queen Live Aid tribute. There will also be food vendors and a bar and to adhere to social distancing, customers will need to book a four by three metre personal space for their group for two to six people.

Jamal Sealey (left) and Rahima Brandt (right), the organisers of the Norwich Free MarketJamal Sealey (left) and Rahima Brandt (right), the organisers of the Norwich Free Market

5. What: Norwich Free Market

Where: Back car park at Norwich Theatre Royal (outside Stage Two), Theatre Street, Norwich, NR2 1RL

When: September 13, 10am to 4pm

Cost: Free

A new monthly market where you’ll find live music, street food, coffee, clothes, bags, jewellery, ceramics and much more. There is no fees for stall holders or shoppers to enter and it is a thriving hub for community trade – you will be able to access it either by walking down Chantry Road or through the front entrance of the theatre.

The Summer Spectacular at Yarmouth's Hippodrome Circus, with social distancing measures in place Picture: David StreetThe Summer Spectacular at Yarmouth’s Hippodrome Circus, with social distancing measures in place Picture: David Street

6. What: Summer Spectacular

Where: Hippodrome Circus, St George’s Road, Great Yarmouth, NR30 2EU

When: Until September 20, various times

Cost: Adults £20 to £25, concessions (over 60s)/carers £17 to £22, children (0-14) £12 to £16 (babies on laps don’t need tickets), bookings must be made by phone 01493 738877 (box office opens from 10am daily), find full details at hippodromecircus.co.uk/summer-spectacular

The show must go on and Yarmouth’s Hippodrome Circus is making sure families don’t miss out this summer with Covid-safe performances, featuring amazing acrobats, aerialists, daring stunts, dancers, swimmers and its world famous Water Spectacular. The hosts are Jack Jay and Johnny Mac and there is a reduced capacity and running time, approximately 70 to 75 minutes, with no interval to prevent crowding – masks are also mandatory in the auditorium.

An assortment of Star Wing's bottled beers Picture: Star Wing BreweryAn assortment of Star Wing’s bottled beers Picture: Star Wing Brewery

7. What: Hops ‘n’ Hogs

Where: Star Wing Brewery, Unit 6, Hall Farm, Redgrave, IP22 1RJ

When: September 12, 12pm until 11pm

Cost: Free

Just across the border and a few miles from Diss, expect a fun day out for all the family, including four-legged guests, this weekend at Star Wing Brewery. There will be community hop picking, live music, food trucks and a free hog roast for the first 50 pickers.

Make sure to check online before heading to event as they made be cancelled or postponed at short notice due to coronavirus guidelines or weather conditions.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.