Andrew Lloyd Webber is taking legal action against the U.K. government in a bid to force them to reveal the results of their live event pilot scheme.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Events and Research Programme (ERP) had been allowing audiences to attend events such as the FA Cup Final and the BRIT Awards to gauge whether or not such occasions contributed to the spread of the coronavirus.
While it had been expected that the ERP would reveal their findings last week – allowing people to make plans for the rest of the summer – the publication of the results was delayed without explanation.
Following the delay, Lloyd Webber, theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh and live music industry bosses announced their legal action in a statement, saying: “The short-term hit is stark. Research indicates that the potential four-week delay to reopening will lead to about 5,000 live music gigs being cancelled, as well as numerous theatre productions across the country, costing hundreds of millions of pounds in lost income.”
Lloyd Webber, who sat as a Conservative government peer in the House of Lords before retiring in 2017, added: “The government’s actions are forcing theatre and music companies off a cliff as the summer wears on, whilst cherry-picking high-profile sporting events to go ahead. The situation is beyond urgent.
“We simply must now see the data that is being used to strangle our industry so unfairly.”
In response to the legal challenge, officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “We understand a delay to full reopening is challenging for live events but we are helping our creative industries and sporting bodies through it.”
They added that the results from the ERP would be published “before the move to step four” of the end of lockdown restrictions, which is now expected to take place in July.
Lloyd Webber had previously been offered the chance to open his musical Cinderella as an ERP event, but declined, and said he’d be willing to go to prison if it meant he could open his show as planned.