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Coronavirus: Live music could return under Scottish Government plan for event ‘trials’

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop and musician Louise Quinn.
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop and musician Louise Quinn.

Music concerts and other cultural events could soon be staged again as part of a series of Scottish Government-backed “trials”.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said an advisory group was being established to discuss such options and find ways to help rebuild confidence in the live entertainment sector.

And she signalled that the islands could be among the first areas to host gigs and other events if local residents were supportive of the proposal.

What I’m keen to do is to work with sectors on what we can trial, what we can work at, how do we support those trials.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop

Ms Hyslop was giving evidence on Thursday to a virtual meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s culture committee.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart quizzed the minister on support for smaller venues and acts in rural and island communities during the coronavirus pandemic, warning that there was “not much optimism that there will be any events this year, when social distancing is obviously going to make it difficult”.

HebCelt organisers were among those discussing options, the culture secretary said.

Ms Hyslop responded by saying that talks were already under way to find solutions.

“One of the things we’re doing with Events Scotland is bringing together different events – you know, proprietors of companies in this area – to work through what that looks like in the future, how can we help support people,” she said.

“I just held a round table (discussion) with a number of key people. HebCelt were part of that discussion. And there were other, different events represented.

“We’re going to put together an advisory group on events in particular to see what can happen.”

The SNP minister said the trials would aim to show the wider public that such events could be held safely.

“I think there is also a point about confidence, and we can’t underestimate it,” she said.

“If you’ve been locked down for eight weeks, as we’re coming up for, it’s difficult for people coming out if you haven’t experienced that interaction with people, let alone going into places where there are people who you don’t know, strangers etc.

Scottish Government minister Fiona Hyslop in Lossiemouth.

“So a lot of what we’re going to have to do is help to build confidence for people to go back to places, and how do we do that, and support that in a way that actually might not be profitable, but we’ve got to start somewhere.

“That’s what I’m keen to do, is to work with sectors on what we can trial, what can we work at, how do we support those trials, because they might not necessarily be economic in themselves, but how do we help that as a sector come together to come up with solutions.”

Some of those solutions might be on islands, for example, but only with, and I’ve stressed this before, only with the agreement of the communities on those islands themselves, as to what they want.”

Fiona Hyslop.

Ms Hyslop suggested that the islands could potentially be used for such trials if local residents were in favour.

“Some of those solutions might be on islands, for example, but only with, and I’ve stressed this before, only with the agreement of the communities on those islands themselves, as to what they want,” she said.

“Because at some point we do want to welcome people back. It’s not exactly now, but we want to be ready for them and we want people to be confident, and the communities to be confident, that when they have people coming in, they are doing it in a safe way.”

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