Sister Bliss of Faithless: Nightclubs and DJs ‘left in the corner to rot’


Sister Bliss on stage

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Sister Bliss from dance act Faithless has said UK nightclubs have been “left to rot in a corner” amid the pandemic.

The government says clubs must stay shut “in line with current scientific advice to control the virus”.

The musician and DJ told BBC Radio 6 Music club culture should be better protected.

“There’s a lack of leadership at the top which means certain industries have been given support and then others have been completely ignored,” she said.

“The electronic music scene and clubbing is definitely an incredible part of our cultural and economic force, and it travels all over the world globally.

“We really, I think, have been left to rot in a corner, so it’s good to see that venues and artists are trying to galvanise it – with the Let the Music Play movement – trying to bring the plight of venues and freelancers, like myself, to the fore.”

The Let the Music Play campaign saw 1,500 artists sign an open letter in July calling for support for the UK’s music scene.

“All we can do is keep waving a flag and saying, ‘We want support as well,'” she told 6 Music’s Georgie Rogers.

Image caption

Faithless performed at the BBC Music Awards in 2015

The government has announced a £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund, but there is uncertainty over how far this money will stretch and where it will go.

Sister Bliss’s comments come on 6 Music’s State of the Independents Day on Thursday, looking into the effects of the pandemic on the independent music sector.

In response, a government spokeswoman said: “We know this is an incredibly difficult time for nightclubs, but they will need to remain closed for now in line with current scientific advice to control the virus.

“We continue to engage with industry representative and listen to their concerns.

“Throughout the pandemic, nightclubs have access to the government’s unprecedented package of support to help businesses, which includes business rates relief, tax deferrals, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and billions paid in loans and grants.”

While clubbing as we know it remains off the cards, some venues have been able to diversify in a bid to stay open and survive.

Venues like Brixton Jamm and Escape to Freight Island in Manchester have been able to move things outside and host seated, socially distanced events with strict rules.

Meanwhile, virtual clubbing has boomed, with DJs moving their sets online via social media or platforms like Boiler Room and United We Stream.

‘On a cliff edge’

Last week, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) lent its support to The Global Nighttime Recovery Plan, which is looking at the “the future of dancefloor” by proposing flexible and open clubbing experiences.

NTIA boss Michael Kill told BBC News the night time economy was “on a cliff edge”, with furlough coming to an end soon. A government scheme meaning no business can be evicted for missing rent payments is also ending this month.

At the end of July, a survey of the association’s members suggested that 58% fear they will not survive longer than two months without further government support. And 71% were already set to make more than half of their workforces redundant in a matter of weeks.

“We need the government to recognise the critical position the sector is in across the UK and work expediently to release a roadmap,” Mr Kill said. “But also act quickly to put a sector specific financial package together which will allow these businesses to survive and save jobs.”

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Jamz Supernova is a DJ on BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and 6 Music

DJ Jamz Supernova told 6 Music club culture has been undervalued in the UK for a long time.

“Nobody flies across the world to go to a restaurant,” she declared. “You will fly across the world if there’s a great clubbing scene.

“So I felt there needs to be a lot of more transparency, communication, and funding.”

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