Fears for Scottish cultural heritage as lockdown measures impact performances

Traditional Scottish music representatives have raised fears of the “devastating” impact lockdown restrictions are having on the future of the scene.

Coronavirus restrictions introduced in August put a stop to performances within licensed premises as a means to avoid people flouting social distancing measures.

Limits to how many people and households can meet has also added further pressures, as it has stopped them being able to meet in homes.

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Many promoters are said to have delayed gigs for a year, leaving musicians out of pocket and unable to book other gigs.

Now, representatives of the industry have called for better support for musicians and a route map for live performances to be brought back, with some claiming artists may not return to the industry in favour of more stable employment.

David Francis, director of traditional arts organisation TRACS, told the PA news agency: “The impact really has been quite devastating.

“Teaching and playing – all of that has had to stop.

“So much of it comes down to what the Government can do to support us

“The creative industry in Scotland is really a massive part of the overall economy, there has to be recognition of that.”

The Scottish Government announced a £59 million package of emergency funding for culture and heritage in August.

This includes £5 million for the immediate financial hardship faced by creative freelancers, and £5 million to support artists to continue developing new creative work.

However, some musicians see no end in sight to the ban on performing and fear over their prospects for returning.

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Kevin Gore, a Scottish folk musician based in Edinburgh, recently took a tour of Germany where live events had been taking place.

He claims the loss of opportunities to perform, lack of government support and recognition of how valuable live music is to the economy and culturally could see many promising artists give up on pursuing a career in the industry in favour of more stable employment.

The singer-songwriter said: “We have got to adapt as live performances will be very different in the future as it’s very difficult to achieve an atmosphere with social distancing.

“Some are going to get used to a stable income and they won’t want to go back to being precarious in terms of their income.

“It could take a lot of promising talented people out of the scene.”

He urged musicians and venues to find a compromise solution that could allow performances to take place and artists to be paid.

Fiona Campbell, convener of Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland (TMSA), added: “Musicians are doing things online but you do lose that connection.

“Folk music is about having a people connection, face to face.

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“Everyone is very interested in getting back together whenever possible.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We want to lift restrictions as soon as possible and see musicians and the wider events sector thriving again.

“However, physical distancing is expected to remain central to reducing the risk of transmission at events.

“Suppressing the virus and saving lives remains our top priority.

“We do not underestimate the devastating impact this pandemic has had on Scotland’s creative industries, particularly those that rely on audiences and live performances.”

Reporting by PA

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