Eclectic

'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.

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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.


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What festivals are happening in Suffolk this year and when are they on?

Lowestoft's First Light Festival will be the perfect event to allow families to let their hair down together. Photo: First Light

Lowestoft’s First Light Festival will be the perfect event to allow families to let their hair down together. Photo: First Light

Archant

Suffolk has rich culture and heritage which is celebrated through a series of popular family friendly eventrs throughout the year. Here’s our guide to the diverse array of attractionswhich should keep everyone entertained over the next 10 months

Crowds at the East Anglian Game Fair at Euston Hall.Crowds at the East Anglian Game Fair at Euston Hall.

The East Anglian Game & Country Fair

Where: Euston Estate, Euston Hall, Thetford

When: April 25-26

The East Anglian Game & Country Fair is an annual two day, family event which celebrates the heritage and traditions of rural life. Headlining the main arena this year are The Bolddog Lings Freestyle Team who will amaze the crowds with their gravity defiant Freestyle Motocross Show.

Crowds enjoying the music at LeeStock as the sun sets Picture ANDREW DEERECrowds enjoying the music at LeeStock as the sun sets Picture ANDREW DEERE

There will also be an opportunity to see the exciting, fast and skilful British Scurry & Trials Driving in the main arena. Falconry is always a popular attraction at country fairs and Ray & Wendy Aliker’s Ye Olde Redtail Birds will be performing a very special tribute display to the 75th Anniversary of VE Day.

The East Anglian Game & Country Fair will also be hosting the Horseboarding UK Championships. It has been described as being “Somewhere between scurry racing and wake boarding.”

Bury St Edmunds Festival

The Grand Parade on the final day of the Suffolk Show Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDThe Grand Parade on the final day of the Suffolk Show Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Where: The Apex, the Cathedral and various venues across Bury St Edmunds

When: May 14-24

Tony Christie, Dead Bones, Deadringers Live and Jenni Murray will appear at the 35th Bury St Edmunds Festival. Spread over 11 days, in 12 different venues and with 50 different events across the West Suffolk town, the locations for the scheduled activities range from the very modern and flexible Apex to the 800-year-old Guild Hall, the Theatre Royal – the last working Regency Playhouse in Britain – and The Abbey Gardens, an English Heritage site with monastic ruins.

This year also marks the 1000th anniversary of the Abbey of St Edmund. The Festival will perform a series of concerts at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, including by The Sixteen on May 18. On May 14 the Aurora Orchestra will play Beethoven’s Eroica. Over the following days there will be a Words Weekend from (May 15-17) with writers and actors including Jenni Murray, Robert Webb, Katie Piper and Alastair Campbell discussing topics, such as mental health and gender roles.

Partying on the beach as the sun comes up. First Light Festival in Lowestoft celebrates the arrival of summer with a 24 hour arts extravaganza Photo: First LightPartying on the beach as the sun comes up. First Light Festival in Lowestoft celebrates the arrival of summer with a 24 hour arts extravaganza Photo: First Light

May 19 will see jazz singer Stacey Kent perform.

Beccles Food and Drink Festival

Where: Beccles Town Centre

Welcome to the Maverick Festival at Easton Farm Park Photo: MaverickWelcome to the Maverick Festival at Easton Farm Park Photo: Maverick

When: Saturday May 23

After a record breaking last year, Beccles Food and Drink Festival is back in 2020 with a feast of culinary delights. The free Festival features over 80 food and drink stalls, many of them local artisan producers, as well as those from further afield in East Anglia. Based in the centre of the vibrant market town, the Festival will include cookery demonstrations and talks, world street food, musicians and children’s entertainment.

Hungate Church will be the new home of the Cookery Theatre offering people the opportunity to visit and taste some great local produce.

A free park and ride shuttle service will run throughout the day from Beccles Quay, where additional parking will be available. Building on the successful formula of previous years, the Festival is set to repeat Fringe events in the local area a week either side of the main Festival day.

Audiences enjoying the experience of Latitude at Henham Park. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodAudiences enjoying the experience of Latitude at Henham Park. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

LeeStock Music Festival 2020

Where: Melford Hall, (National Trust) Long Melford, Sudbury

When: May 23-24

Thousands of people will flock to Helmingham Hall for Suffolk Dog Day. Photo: Sarah Lucy BrownThousands of people will flock to Helmingham Hall for Suffolk Dog Day. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown

LeeStock returns to celebrate its 13th anniversary with another top line up. This year’s headline acts include: Ash, Scouting For Girls, Toploader, Lucy Spraggan, Space, Electric Six and Stereo Mc’s. It’s a family event so there will be plenty for youngsters to do in the The Drage & Tozer Family Area including: Story time and music time, face painting, glitter tattoos, books to read, chalk table, colouring in as well as sand and water play.

Suffolk Show

Where: Trinity Park, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich

Festival of Wheels at Trinity Park in Ipswich. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGEFestival of Wheels at Trinity Park in Ipswich. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

When: May 27-28

The Suffolk Show is an event that celebrates both modern life and the county’s rich heritage. Traditional livestock share space in the show ring with various attractions like showjumping, motorcycle displays, parachute jumps, best in show parades even on one occasion dancing diggers.

Local craftsmen can also display their wares at the show. It is a unique celebration of everything that makes the county great and showcases the best of Suffolk’s food, farming and agricultural heritage. The aim is to promote food, farming and the countryside and its importance to Suffolk.

FolkEast music and art festival showcasing the best of Suffolk at Glemham Hall. FolkEast music and art festival showcasing the best of Suffolk at Glemham Hall.

First Light Festival

Where: Lowestoft South Beach

When: Saturday June 20

Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, First Light Festival will return on the 2020 summer solstice weekend.

Join in the fun and frolics on the beach for 24 hours of non-stop multi-arts programming on Lowestoft’s South Beach. This is a free festival for thinkers, for dreamers and for fun-seekers. Pick the brains of some of the world’s top scientists, authors and broadcasters; dance on the sand to live music and DJs; watch films at the outdoor cinema; take a moment for yourself in the well-being tipis and see site-specific installations, art and sculpture as you discover 24 hours of imaginative programming.

Maverick Festival

Where: Easton Farm Park, Easton, Woodbridge

When: July 3-5

Maverick is the UK’s first and finest Americana music festival and an event that continues to build on its reputation for securing the best and brightest in American roots music from both sides of the Atlantic.

The Maverick Festival is set amongst the restored Victorian barns and out-buildings of Easton Farm Park, nestled deep in the Suffolk countryside, with films, workshops and performances from more than 50 different artists across six stages, indoors and out.

The music begins on Friday at 5pm and runs until around 11.30pm. Saturday’s programme starts at 11am and finishes around 11.30pm. Sunday is altogether more relaxed beginning around 10.30am and running until approximately 2.30pm.

This year’s line-up includes: Steve Forbert, California Feetwarmers, Legendary Shack Shakers, Terra Lightfoot, Henhouse Prowlers, Weeping Willows and Hank Wangford.

Latitude

Where: Henham Park, near Blythburgh, NR34 8AQ

When: July 16-19

Latitude is a major part of the UK’s festival season and an important corner-piece of Suffolk’s cultural jigsaw. What makes Latitude special is, in addition to the eclectic selection headline music acts, the festival held at Henham Park, just outside Southwold, is also home to a fascinating lineup of theatre, cabaret and comedy, while an inspiring variety of spoken word, poetry and film features regularly throughout the weekend. You’ll experience everything from the spectacular to the surreal at Latitude’s diverse array of stages, with the main stage (Obelisk Arena) sitting at the top of the hill overlooking the festival.

Among the headliners at this year’s festival are: Liam Gallagher, The Chemical Brothers, HAIM plus Bill Bailey and Simon Amstell.

Suffolk Dog Day 2020

Where: Helmingham Hall, Stowmarket

When: July 26

This is no ordinary day in the doggy diary, but a day to celebrate our furry friends in all their guises. Enjoy a great day out with your dogs, family and friends.

There are fun dog classes with great prizes, agility, dog scurry and lots of attractions and trade stands to keep everyone entertained. There are children’s activities as well as more than 50 stalls selling everything from dog accessories to cheese. There will also be a catering village as well as entertainments and demonstrations.

Festival of Wheels

Where: Trinity Park, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich

When: July 31 – August 2

An intoxicating mix of cars, bikes, trucks and all things motoring come together over two superb days for the Festival of Wheels.

The largest event of its kind in the South-East, the festival gathers together the east coast’s rarest and most glamorous cars, bikes and trucks. The Festival of Wheels is a unique event created for those with a passion for motoring in general. The festival format enables visitors to enjoy a full day or weekend of motoring entertainment.

Attractions include: Monster Truck Rides, Honda’s Official And The UK’s Number 1 Freestyle Motocross Display Team, 2 Bros Stunt Team, Extreme Bike Battle, Wall of Death and Happy’s Circus.

FolkEast

Where: Glemham Hall, Little Glemham, Woodbridge

When: Aug 21-23

FolkEast is a festival where a group of like minded people from across the generations, who gather together for a three day annual festival of music, arts, crafts, legends, traditions and frivolities on the Glemham Hall estate in Suffolk.

The line-up is hand-picked from first class national, international and local folk artists, the food and ale all locally sourced and fairly priced. With the feel of a large village fete and set amidst a Constable-esque landscape, there is plenty to sing and dance about.

This year’s line-up includes: Afro Celt Sound System, Drever McCusker & Woomble, Elephant Sessions, Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita, The Shee, The Trials of Cato, Gigspanner Big Band, The Moulettes and festival patrons The Young’Uns.

Retro Dub Suffolk VW Festival

Where: Trinity Park, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich

When: Fri Sept 25 – Sun Sept 27

Retro Dub Suffolk VW Festival is an old school camping and live music weekend for all ages. Now in its sixth year, the event proves to be a chilled-out show, offering a genuine VW camping festival experience – like it used to be back in the day.

The show is hosted at Trinity Park, Ipswich, situated within a beautiful 300 acre secure complex, has rural landscapes, and even has 4G for most networks. On the Saturday, Norfolk and Suffolk Retro Riderz are hosting a bike show and shine with various trophies up for grabs. All old-school rides are welcome, be it chopper, cruiser, BMX or trike.

Sunday is the VW show and shine, where if you enter with a cool vdub, you could be in with a chance of winning a unique trophy. No pre-registration is required to enter and is just £1 to participate, with all the money raised being donated to charity.

We have a variety of traders and catering options, as well as a full programme of live music and children’s entertainment. The sponsors area will be full of invited guests from Europe along with top show cars, drag cars and some specialist traders.

Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival

Where: Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape

When: September 26-27

This event showcases products like raw milk, organic vegetables, sourdough bread, beer and spirits and much more. This year, the Festival promises to deliver a jam-packed weekend of fabulous food adventures, from tastings and demonstrations to ‘roll up your sleeves and get stuck in’ masterclasses.

Among the visiting chefs are Chetna Makan, Indian food writer and Great British Bake Off contestant, Jo Pratt, a TV cook, food stylist and author of seven books including The Flexible Vegetarian. She’s former food editor for both Elle and Glamour magazines, Galton Blackiston, chef owner of Morston Hall Hotel in North Norfolk where his restaurant has held a Michelin star for the past 16 years, Jack Adair Bevan, an award-winning drinks and cocktail creator, Thomasina Miers OBE, winner of BBC MasterChef in 2005 and James Morton, doctor, Scottish baker, brewer and runner-up of the third Great British Bake Off series in 2012.