SCOTLAND’S grassroots music venues face a “tsunami” that could see them wiped out unless the UK and Scottish governments come up with urgent financial support.

The warning comes after some of the biggest names in the business came together to put pressure on the UK Government’s Culture Minister, Oliver Dowden, to do more to help the industry.

The Let The Music play campaign – backed by legends including the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney, and Scots superstars Lewis Capaldi, Annie Lennox, Emeli Sande and Barbara Dickson – asked for “an immediate comprehensive business and employment support package”, which should include “an extension of the furlough scheme”.

Geoff Ellis, of DF Concerts, who backed the campaign, said the tapering of the scheme – later this month firms will need to contribute towards the cost of furloughed staff wages – was going to be a “cliff-edge” for many in the sector.

“That’s when there’ll be large-scale redundancies, venue closures, businesses going out of business. That’s when all that will start to cascade like dominoes,” he said.

Though the campaign was directed towards the UK, the promoter said ministers in Scotland needed to help too. Ellis said he couldn’t see any major concerts happening until next year.

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“So what does the industry do between now and 2021? It needs that support,” he said. He pointed out that much of the money that’s been made available by both governments “isn’t accessible to a large proportion of the Scottish music industry”.

This wasn’t, he added, about giving cash to already well off musicians. Any money invested now to prevent the crippling of the industry, would be paid back in years to come.

“When the Rolling Stones or Lewis Capaldi or Liam Gallagher play, there’s a load of truck drivers going out on tour,” he said. “There’ll be merchandise sellers, guitar technicians, drum technicians. There’ll be lighting engineers, sound engineers, everybody that goes with it.

‘‘Then the venue staff, if they’re playing arenas or festivals, you’ve got all of the stewards, you’ve got the medical teams that are working at the events, you’ve got the food and beverage staff, car parking stuff, all of those people rely on touring as well.”

On Friday, Scottish Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop announced a new £10 million “lifeline” fund to “remove the threat of insolvency” for the country’s theatres and performing arts venues.

The Government is now under pressure to deliver a similar financial package for Scotland’s music venues.

It’s a message Hyslop has likely heard. When she announced the theatre fund, the minister said the Government was also “actively considering support for grassroots music venues”.

The Government wouldn’t say what they’re considering, but in a recent submission to Holyrood’s Culture Committee, the UK Music campaigning body urged ministers to look towards Wales, where the Creative Wales Grassroots Music Fund has distributed £400,000 to 22 grassroots music venues.

Perhaps the biggest barrier for the sector is the need for social distancing.

While live events will be “permitted with restricted numbers and physical-distancing restrictions” at phase three of the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown, for most venues that just won’t be practical.

Unlike restaurants, there can be no Perspex screens between customers at a gig.

Rowan Campbell, the general manager of Edinburgh’s Summerhall, said that the capacity in their venue – which can currently hold 450 people – would be massively reduced to the point, making it unworkable.

“At two metres our capacity would be 45 people. And those 45 people need to include bar staff, front-of-house staff, security staff, etc. So realistically, you’re talking about 35 tickets to sell,” she said.

“Telling us we’re allowed to do a thing isn’t the same as being able to do a thing,” she added.

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Even at somewhere like the Hydro where a reduced capacity still means selling 4000 tickets, that likely won’t generate enough money to make anything other than a loss.

Scottish Album of the Year Award winner Anna Meredith was due to be in Australia right now, playing as part of a year-long world tour off the back of a new album. Instead, like almost every other musician, she’s at home.

She said it was “scary to think about the places that might not be there anymore”.

“We need venues at every end of the spectrum every size and scale. I can’t see how it’s gonna be possible for venues with very small capacities to make things work as it stands. We need to be able to support and get music out to all kinds of audiences.”

Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite agreed. “We’re looking at a tsunami with a wave coming in,” he said.

“Britain has had so many really great musicians over the years and one of the reasons is that there’s lots of places to play.

“Someone doesn’t just go to bed and then wake up one morning and they’re a genius. They’ve worked and worked and worked and got better at what they do to the point where what they do is really amazing.”

Braithwaite’s fear is that nothing might happen until a vaccine is found: “You can’t really distance two metres apart in the Barrowland or Nice N Sleazy.”

Music fans may have to wait until phase four when the “virus remains suppressed to very low levels and is no longer considered a significant threat to public health”.

As the Scottish Government warns in the route map it may “be many months, or longer, until we reach this phase”.