The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 2 June 2020
Blackout Tuesday - The music industry is calling for a ‘Blackout Tuesday’ in response to George Floyd's death. Major record labels have shared a message on social media promising "a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community". Employees have been given Tuesday off as "a day of action", intended to "provoke accountability and change". Interscope vowed not to release new music this week, while Apple Music's Ebro Darden cancelled his radio shows.
"We stand together with the black community against all forms of racism, bigotry, and violence," said Columbia Records, which is home to Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams, Lil Nas X, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Adele. "Now, more than ever, we must use our voices to speak up and challenge the injustices all around us."
"In the words of Dr King, 'There comes a time when silence is betrayal.' When you have a responsibility to raise your voice for change. That time has come," added Universal Music Group on social media.
Universal's chairman, Sir Lucian Grainge, also issued a memo to staff laying out plans for a task force, headed by chief counsel Jeff Harleston, to "accelerate our efforts in areas such as inclusion and social justice".
The British record industry's trade body, the BPI, also confirmed it would participate in the ‘Blackout Tuesday’. "Like many of our members, we will suspend normal business tomorrow," it said in a statement. "Our staff will share in this moment to reflect on the recent tragic events, stand in solidarity with all those who suffer discrimination and encourage our leaders across the world to act.”
Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died last week after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin has been sacked and charged with third-degree murder.
Take That Back - Robbie Williams reunited with other Take That members for a virtual charity concert. Williams, who famously left the group in 1995, joined Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald as they each performed from their own homes during the coronavirus lockdown. Take That - without Jason Orange who left the band in 2014 - opened with singles Greatest Day and Shine, before being joined by Williams for the rest of the set, which included Back For Good, The Flood, Pray and Never Forget for their rousing finale.
Performing with the group for the first time in two years, Williams said the show was "less weird than standing in front of 80,000 people". Frontman Barlow led the lockdown concert from his home studio, which he had kitted out with keyboards and microphones, while Owen appeared to be in the midst of decorating and sang from his garage.
The charity stream was hosted by the animated character Aleksandr Orlov, voiced by Alan Partridge actor Simon Greenall, from comparethemeerkat.com - the site which was hosting the concert on its YouTube page. Money raised from the performance will donated to Nordoff Robbins, a music therapy charity, and Crew Nation, an organisation for crew workers.
Recovery Plan - A summit took place last Thursday between industry leaders from across the arts and hospitality sector, laying out key principles for a recovery plan. The attendees were from organisations including the Royal Opera House, the Royal Albert Hall, Society of London Theatre, UKHospitality, and Heart of London Business Alliance, as well as Nickie Aiken, MP for Cities of London and Westminster.
All warned of the dire set of circumstances facing the industry - the Royal Albert Hall will only survive until April next year before being forced to fold, while the Royal Opera House's reserves will not last beyond autumn.
The summit provided a number of key recovery solutions. A lot of these were to do with social distancing - how to make sure that any practical measures are both temporary and able to restore audience confidence. Looking abroad for practical solutions was vital, according to Aiken.
According to the summit, "the theatre industry is talking to government about a securing an urgent injection of money to keep it going". An agreed-upon value of £300m for every three months that venues are closed would save the sector across the whole of the UK. One model, including the use of repayable arts bonds, was suggested.
Theatre Support Fund - Since the launch of The Theatre Support Fund four weeks ago, the project has reached it’s first milestone by raising £125,000 for charity. The Theatre Support Fund & ‘The Show Must Go On’ t-shirt have been created in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic which saw theatres across the UK being closed and caused disruption to the lives of thousands of people working in the theatre industry.
The shirt design is an amalgamation of the world famous branding of 16 of the biggest musicals in the West End. We created a unique item with all of these shows side by side, in unity, longing for a time when ’the show can go on’ again. They have received over 7500 orders and have shipped to 42 countries across the globe. The orders are being packed daily by a team of volunteers from within the West End theatre community.
The proceeds from the project will be split between Acting for Others, the Fleabag Support Fund who are providing financial aid to people working in the theatre industry who are experiencing hardship as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic, as well as the NHS COVID-19 Urgent Appeal.
(Jim Evans)
2 June 2020

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