'I'll Have a Pint of the Virus Please'
Like a lot of people across the world, I've come home from work every evening and streamed the news onto the chromecast. 'Damage Report', as my partner and I jokingly (but also seriously) call it, has kept us up-to-date on the current Covid-19 situation. We're both musicians, both just completed our masters degrees, and are working minimum wage hospitality jobs.
I, in particular, work in a music venue, and a well loved one at that. I've noticed the numbers of pub-goers dwindle before my eyes, and it is extremely worrying to see. I say this not only as a worker, but as a musician, and as a live music promoter as well. People are being told to avoid these venues, but the people who own them haven't been offered any advice, and instead are left in limbo to worry about keeping the lights on, and paying staff.
On the 16th of March, the government announced relief measures for businesses, including mortgage holidays and loans, but there is still no advice to close, reduce hours, or stay open. People are still being discouraged from attending these venues, so staff have to attend work to twiddle their thumbs, and religiously wash their hands.
As for the bands, their tours and shows are dropping like flies, no one has any shows booked, and promoters are left with the uncertainty of how long into the future they should be cancelling shows. In stead, bands are taking to the internet to stream 'live' shows. The joke is that these audience-less shows don't feel any different to normal shows.
This is an ugly truth, and a crying shame.
Our grassroots music scene in the UK has been unstable for years, and this virus is threatening extinction. We need a plan to keep these places open, and I don't think that shrugging and saying 'we'll just have to see how things play out' will cut it, but we also have no choice. There is no concrete evidence of how long we will have to persevere.
We can, however, support the bands in this time, by simply seeking new bands out, and listening to their music. We hope that this blog will help with that. We want to shout about these bands that are incredible, and we hope that in our isolation and social distancing, we will be able to at least keep these musicians going, so that they may get back to our stages shortly after the threat of Covid-19 is no more.