Support for Scotland’s musicians and music industry
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop:
Scotland has a well-deserved reputation for the strength of its music industry. From traditional music to the most modern music makers, such as Nova, the winner of this year’s Scottish Album of the Year, Scotland’s music is recognised throughout the world.
It is a way for us to show who we are as individuals and as a country, and to reflect on our place in the world. We can experience music as a private experience or as a communal one, and few things bring people together like the shared experience of live music.
We are all aware of the devastating impact the pandemic has had on our music industry, particularly live music. Restrictions have undoubtedly saved lives, but it has been hard to bear for fans who cannot see their favourite artists live, and for people who have been unable to meet their friends to make music together.
It has been even harder for those who work in the industry.
One effect of the pandemic has been to remind us of the vast ecosystem that supports our music industry. Musicians and performers may be the most recognisable people in the industry, but they rely on a host of professionals such as sound engineers, lighting engineers, road and stage crew, managers and promoters, as well as those who run and work in venues up and down the country, and many more besides.
Throughout the pandemic, the Scottish Government has sought to ensure that financial support has been available to people in the music industry. We have ensured that a wide range of music industry roles are eligible for Creative Scotland’s Hardship Fund for Creative Freelancers, which is currently open for applications. The budget of the fund was originally £5 million, but I have increased this to £8 million so that as many people as possible are able to receive support. We must do what we can to ensure that people are able to stay in the industry, because once we lose skills and experience that will be difficult to replace.
We provided £2.2 million for grassroots music venues, which are vital in nurturing and showcasing artistic talent. This provided support to 72 venues throughout Scotland. Music industry businesses have received support from the Culture Organisations and Venues Relief Fund and the Performing Arts Venue Relief Fund, as well as through the original Pivotal Enterprise Relief Fund and the Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund.
This support has reached individuals and businesses across Scotland and in all parts of the music industry.
We have also supported youth music and music education through a £3 million youth arts funding package, delivered by Creative Scotland. Last week, youth arts organisations, including many youth music organisations, received £1 million from the Targeted Fund. Recipients included Drake Music Scotland, Fèis Rois, the National Youth Choirs of Scotland and the Scottish Brass Band Association that do so much good work all over Scotland but also in my constituency in West Lothian.
This funding will support these organisations to expand their work. It will provide creative opportunities to young people and it will also provide work and income for artists and practitioners generally.
The music industry has done whatever it can during the pandemic to maintain some level of activity and to stay in touch with audiences. The Scottish Album of the Year Award took place at the start of November, and both the Nordoff Robbins Scottish Music Awards and the Scots Trad Music Awards will take place virtually. Many artists have streamed performances – often stripped back performances. Others have managed to continue to write and record new music but we recognise the challenges that are there.
We know the support we have provided cannot replace income lost through the closure of live music, but it is some effort to support people to survive through this very difficult period of time.
The one thing that will help the industry most is to look at recovery and how artists will be able to perform. The Strategic Framework allows music venues to open in Level 0 and Level 1. We have got to be careful, particularly at this stage, and we have published guidance that restricts indoor venues to a maximum of 100 people in an allocated seating area.
Some venues in Level 1 areas are making plans to open, which will be of great interest and we are keen to see how those concerts go.
We also need to identify how we can provide a route back and that is why Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund which opened on the 2 November, administered by Events Scotland, is looking at how we can restart the events sector as restrictions are eased.
This will allow communities and the public to regain confidence in hosting and attending events. Grants of up to £35,000 are available.
Live music is also represented on the independent Events Industry Advisory Group, which has been looking at a longer term plan for the return of live events, including live music. That is a very constructive approach as well.
The pandemic has forced much of Scotland’s music industry to fall silent, but the voices of the Scottish Parliament has made sure the needs of musicians have been heard.
I appreciate the sacrifices that many musicians are making at this time.
Music is a central part of Scotland’s life, we recognise that in the support we have provided, and I am determined the voices of musicians and the music they play will be heard throughout the venues in Scotland and we will come through this with a vibrant music scene.