ISM writes to the Government as live music and theatre industries sue for COVID-19 research data
Today we have written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to again ask the Government to publish the delayed Events Research Programme (ERP) report into COVID-19 and urgently release the overdue live events guidance for Step 4 of the roadmap. The ERP data is vital for live events organisers to be able to plan safely this summer and beyond.
Separately, the live music industry body LIVE and a range of theatre businesses, including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group, Cameron Mackintosh, Michael Harrison and Sonia Friedman, have begun legal proceedings against the Government to force it to hand over the report of Phase 1 of the ERP. They believe the Government has breached their duty of transparency and that none of the reasons given for withholding the data withstand scrutiny. They have asked the Court to consider their application at an urgent hearing as soon as possible.
ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts, said:
‘There is no reason for the Government's continued refusal to publish their research into the safe return of live performance at full capacity. Along with the others in the creative industries, we are insisting that this important data is published without further delay.'
About the ERP
The ERP is the Government’s research into COVID-19 mitigations in sport, entertainment and business conferences settings. These events have been a huge success, according to the Government itself in various press reports, showing that with proper precautions in place, live events at full capacity can go ahead safely.
But the Government chose to keep the live entertainment industry under severe restrictions from 21 June, while allowing parts of the economy to operate that have not been subject to similar scientific studies - including hospitality, public transport and retail.
As well as forming the basis for a reopening decision for 19 July, the ERP findings will also help ensure that live entertainment does not need to be the first to close should there be a resurgence in the pandemic over the winter. COVID-19 certification, plus simple mitigation measures in venues, mean that events would still be able to run safely.