The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 31 March 2020
Major Losses - Workers in the UK theatre sound industry have collectively lost nearly £2m in income as a result of the coronavirus, according to a survey by the Association of Sound Designers. The results counted a total loss of £1,943,452 in income across the 249 respondents, largely due to cancelled or postponed events and loss of royalties. This averages at £7,805 per person.
Other key findings from the survey: 91% of respondents immediately lost income as a result of the social-distancing measures, worth around £1m in total; 76% had further work postponed within the next three months, worth around £750,000; 41% of those surveyed said the health of themselves and their family was their primary concern.
Dominic Bilkey, chair of the Association of Sound Designers, said: “The impact of the sudden and complete closure of theatres, arenas and other areas of entertainment has had an immediate and devastating effect upon our members and their families. The priority has to be the health and well-being of the country, and our membership understand and respect this.” Bilkey welcomed government support measures for employees and the self-employed, however warned there was still “a large number of members who will be ineligible for either support mechanism”.
Sofa Sounds - Elton John hosted a star-studded coronavirus benefit concert from his home in Los Angeles. The online festival featured performances from the likes of Billie Eilish, Dave Grohl and Mariah Carey from their sofas and home studios. It raised funds for two US charities. Broadcasting from what he claimed was his only house without a piano, the Rocketman dug out his son's keyboard for a rendition of Don't Let the Sun on Me, and also serenaded Lizzo with an a capella snippet of her track Juice.
"Not long ago, there was another infectious disease that was ignored," said Sir Elton. "Day in and day out, the disease got worse, because we did nothing. Too many forgot about compassion and decency, and so millions and millions of people perished from Aids. But this time, we aren't going to let that happen. So, stay home for the ones you love." Elton was criticised online by some afterwards, however, for comparing the Covid-19 pandemic with the spread of Aids in the 1980s and 90s.
Relief Fund - PRS for Music has announced an immediate PRS Emergency Relief Fund to support its members during the coronavirus pandemic. In partnership with the PRS Members’ Fund and PRS Foundation, the money will be available to PRS members around the world who are facing significant financial pressure.
Said PRS, “The live industry has halted globally, television and film production is on hold and businesses are closing, causing a dramatic reduction in music used. Collectively the livelihoods of creators, many of whom are freelance or small businesses themselves, are at significant risk during this crisis. While the government has offered assistance to businesses and has promised more targeted measures for freelancers, PRS members are experiencing great hardship right now.”
Cambridge Off - Cambridge Folk Festival is the latest event to fall foul of the coronavirus pandemic. The event, due to run 30 July-2 August, was to star the likes of Yusuf (formerly known as Cat Stevens), Grammy Award-winning Patty Griffin and Passenger. Organisers said the safety of festival-goers, artists, staff and crew was their "top priority" and the event had become "too difficult to plan, prepare and deliver".
Aldeburgh Cancelled - The 2020 Aldeburgh Festival in Suffolk, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The classical music festival, based mostly at Snape Maltings, was due to be held between 12 and 28 June. Snape Maltings’ chief executive Roger Wright said it as with "enormous sadness" that the cancellation was made. The festival was founded by local composer Benjamin Britten in Aldeburgh in 1948.
Boomtown On - Organisers of the Boomtown music festival at the Matterley Bowl near Winchester have said they are still planning for it to go ahead. In a statement, the festival said it was monitoring the impact of the Coronvirus outbreak but was hoping to stage a "more intimate experience" with a smaller audience from 12-16 August.
Free Shakespeare - Shakespeare’s Globe has unveiled a programme of work to take place while its building is closed, including a new digital series, free on-demand productions and educational content for home schooling. Digital content made available for audiences will comprise a series of Shakespeare performances, recorded in isolation by artists including Sandi and Jenifer Toksvig and Kathryn Hunter, and a programme of free-to-watch productions via the theatre’s on-demand platform, Globe Player. The theatre said it is also exploring ways to allow Mark Rylance’s Shakespeare Walks – which takes place annually on Shakespeare’s birthday on 23 April – to go ahead this year as a physical event will not be possible.
Farewell - The co-writer and original singer of I Love Rock 'N' Roll, Alan Merrill, has died after contracting coronavirus. His daughter Laura shared the news, saying the 69-year-old had been healthy enough to play shows a few weeks ago. "He played down the 'cold' he thought he had," she wrote, before warning other families not to be complacent. "You don't think It'll happen to you or your strong family. It has," she wrote. "Stay home if not for you, for others. For my dad. This thing is real."
I Love Rock 'N' Roll became a global hit for Joan Jett in 1982 and has been covered by artists ranging from Britney Spears to Weird Al Yankovic. A parody version, I Love Sausage Rolls, was last year's Christmas number one in the UK, with proceeds going to charity.
(Jim Evans)
31 March 2020

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