While we continue to figure out how to navigate the pitfalls of COVID-19, one industry that has been left to its own devices is the nightlife community. Sister Bliss of iconic dance duo Faithless recently discussed this issue with BBC Radio 6 Music to explain why she believes club culture needs to be better protected.
"There's a lack of leadership at the top which means certain industries have been given support and then others have been completely ignored," she said. The electronic music scene and clubbing is definitely an incredible part of our cultural and economic force, and it travels all over the world globally. We really, I think, have been left to rot in a corner, so it's good to see that venues and artists are trying to galvanize it—with the 'Let the Music Play' movement—trying to bring the plight of venues and freelancers, like myself, to the fore."
The "Let the Music Play" campaign saw over 5,000 artists, production crew, and venue owners sign an open letter in July to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, calling for support for the UK's music scene. "All we can do is keep waving a flag and saying, 'We want support as well,'" Sister Bliss told 6 Music's Georgie Rogers. The following week after the letter was sent, a £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund was announced by the government. The sum had been increased significantly to include live music following the campaign. However, there is still fear the package will not be enough to stretch across all those affected.
While the majority of clubs in the UK continue to struggle to survive, some venues are using creative approaches to stay open under the mandated guidelines. Brixton Jamm and Escape to Freight Island in Manchester have been able to move things outside and host seated, socially distanced events with strict rules. Others are focusing on the virtual market, hosting DJ sets online, like Boiler Room and United We Stream.
A government spokesman told BBC that despite differing opinions, they are doing their part. "Throughout the pandemic, nightclubs have access to the government's unprecedented package of support to help businesses, which includes business rates relief, tax deferrals, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and billions paid in loans and grants," said the representative. However, according to a survey by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), 58% fear they will not survive longer than two months without further government support. 71% were already set to make more than half of their workforces redundant in a matter of weeks.