By Dusan Petkovic /

It is all kicking off in the UK as the row over the government’s ‘Events Research Programme’ (ERP) deepens. That was the scheme to test a handful of Covid-safe live events, from music to snooker, and to learn from the results.

The problem is that with the UK’s end-of-lockdown recently extended, the government has not published the results. Now live music body Live has teamed up with some of the UK’s big theatre companies to sue the government to force that publication.

“As well as declining to publish the ERP results, the Government is yet to provide any form of insurance scheme for the sector or to make it clear what kind of ongoing mitigations may be required in the future – effectively making it impossible to plan for any live entertainment business,” explained Live as it announced the lawsuit.

You can read the full details here, including its claim that the government’s announcement of a third round of pilot events is “little more than a way of allowing certain high-profile events to go ahead, primarily large-scale sporting events, while keeping the rest of the sector shut”. Oof.

The salt in the wound for the live sector is the fact that some of the ERP findings *have* already leaked, in an article published by political news site Politico. That predicted that even with ‘low intervention’ measures to keep events Covid-safe could see indoor non-seated events (i.e. live gigs and clubs) generating just 65% of the revenues they were doing in 2019, with that falling if more measures were needed.

The legal action is very specific to the UK, and what Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd described as the government’s “refusal to work with the cultural sector”. However, the wider issues around it, including those findings about the viability of events under various measures that might be required to keep music fans safe, are facing the live industries across the world.

Image by Dusan Petkovic /

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