AS countless fans of live music would no doubt attest, its absence from our lives in recent months has been one of the darkest shadows cast by the coronavirus, beyond the human tragedy of the crisis.

From a personal point of view, there are few things that make me feel as alive as seeing a great band in the company of friends and, dare I say it, a beer or two.

Which is why I was very pleased to hear late on Sunday evening that Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak was set to announce a £1.57 billion rescue package for the arts, culture, and heritage industries, including £97 million for Scotland.

The funding will provide much-needed grants and loans for museums, galleries, theatres, heritage sites, and music venues, many of which have been facing the grim prospect of closing permanently because of the coronavirus crisis.

As we have seen with other government funding packages announced since the crisis erupted, there is a risk that the support may not reach every business in need. But the fact the Government has acknowledged the significance of cultural life to the well-being of its citizens, and to the economic recovery from the pandemic, is reassuring.

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Looking at my home city of Glasgow, it is hard to imagine how people and businesses could prosper without a diet of live music, theatre, and its many festivals of the arts.

In normal times, you can count on gigs being held every night of the week in Glasgow, with bands and artists performing in scores of venues. For as long as I can recall, Glasgow has been a city of famous venues (King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, The Garage, Nice N Sleazy, Mono, the Barrowlands and the SSE Hydro, to name but a few) and serious music fans. Until the coronavirus struck the city could rely on live music as a significant contributor to its economic prosperity.

And the same, too, can be said of many other towns and cities across Scotland and the UK as a whole. Live music brings people into towns to spend money in bars and restaurants and is also important to the overall tourism industry. That there has been so much hotel construction in Glasgow in recent years is at least partly down to the SSE Hydro, which draws people not just from around Scotland but elsewhere in the UK and further afield on account of the big-name artists it attracts.

The current #LetTheMusicPlay campaign, which looks to have played a critical role in persuading the Government to provide emergency support for the arts, highlighted the importance of the industry in economic terms. In a letter to Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and signed by more than 1,500 artists, campaigners noted that the live music industry in the UK supported 210,000 jobs in 2019, and contributed £4.5bn to the economy.

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Donald MacLeod, owner of music venue The Garage in Glasgow, welcomed the government funding and believes it was not a knee-jerk reaction to #LetTheMusicPlay, but the product of months of dialogue between government and promoters around the country. “We have been pushing them for months now to open up the dialogue and do what other countries in Europe have been doing,” he said. “Germany has put billions in. The great result of #LetTheMusicPlay was the amount of different groups who got together to make the case, including bitter rivals.”

Mr MacLeod, who as a concert promoter and venue owner has put on thousands of gigs in the last 25 years, said it is difficult to overstate the importance of the emergency funding, noting that around 550 grassroots music venues have been under threat.

Of course, live music is just one element of the arts scene here which has been badly affected by the coronavirus. On Friday, the Scottish Government announced a £10m fund to support performing arts venues, which Iain Munro, chief executive of Creative Scotland, described as a “critical injection of cash”. It is hoped this funding will help venues which have been facing closure to weather the storm.

With social distancing here for the foreseeable future, it will be some time before there are packed audiences in theatres and live music venues again. Finances will remain under serious pressure, especially when the furlough scheme unwinds, and the position remains precarious for freelancers who earn their living from artistic performance, both on and behind the stage, so there is still a long way to go for the arts. But there is now hope that a second act can still take place.