I am writing to ask you when and how the government plans to safely reopen music venues, theatres and nightclubs over the coming months. I need to understand when and how weddings and parties can safely resume, with numbers more than fifteen, so I can return to work and get on with my life. I mean, I might even get married myself one day!
The reason I ask this simple, yet reasonable question, is that, effectively, my life and career are on an indefinite hiatus. I am completely at the mercy of your government's woeful decision making and utterly reliant on the compliance and goodwill of the British public, in order to gain some semblance of my 'new normal' (whatever that might be).
I found your recently 'retracted' comments to ITV about creative industries to be callus, insensitive and ignorant. I also can't seem to find the corresponding apology that followed it - perhaps I missed it?
I wanted to start by offering an apology of my own. I am sorry that you do not understand what it is like to have your whole livelihood torn from your fingertips overnight. I am sorry you cannot understand the effect that your unjustifiably imposed venue closures, lack of explanation, nor road map to recovery have on an individual's mental state and livelihood.
I am sorry that you have never seen the faces of a happy couple light up as you sing their first dance on their wedding day. I am sorry that you have never been in a packed bar on a Friday night and have never seen a band play live in front of a crowd of more than fifteen people. I am deeply sorry that your privileged life has never afforded you to witness us mere mortals, singing along and dancing, to escape the stresses and strains of our working week.
I thought I would speak to you as a fellow business man. In 2013 I walked out of a well paid corporate job to follow my passion as a singer songwriter. It was a tough slog over many years to work the circuit: to get taken seriously and to make ends meet. When I struggled to cover my bills I went door to door, venue to venue, sometimes offering to sing on the spot to secure work. Over 7 years I built up a successful business from scratch after starting with nothing.
The truth is our so called civilised society, of which you are the financial gatekeeper, is built on capitalism. This structure demands a level playing field for businessmen like you and I - currently your government have closed my playing field indefinitely without a reasonable explanation nor a way forward. You have simply excluded us from the game, yet your guiding principle means by default we should all take part.
Rishi, If offices and other workplaces can be made Covid secure, then so can wedding venues and nightclubs. If you don't know how to do this yet, you have at your disposal over 2 million creatives in the U,K. We are the free thinkers and the makers of miracles. We built our cities, not on economic prosperity and unlimited wealth but on rock and roll.
I would assume that being chancellor you were also aware that our industries contribute £13M to the UK economy every hour? Money aside, the fruits of our collective creative labour brought families together during lockdown. They provided comfort in sadness, took the edge off of the mind numbing boredom and loneliness human beings experience, when you force them into isolation against their will.
You may have recklessly dropped the curtain down on the stages and slammed the doors shut on our workplaces - but the truth is we still have our voices. We also have microphones, sound systems and a lot of amplification, which means collectively we can and WILL make a lot of noise.
Make no mistake: I will NOT be retraining. I have come too far to turn back now at your behest. I've invested thousands of pounds on tuition and equipment, given up two decades of my life and made immeasurable sacrifices to get to the top of my game. Instead of expecting the 2 million or so creatives and I to retrain, I would suggest that it is in fact both YOU and your colleagues who need to retrain - starting with empathy and interpersonal skills.
On a final note, it is I who decides whether my career and business is viable, not a man in a suit and tie who I've never met.
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