Front of House: the devastating impact of Covid-19 on musicians

“A world without live music feels like living in a house with no windows. Live music is uplifting, it’s nourishing, it’s social glue. It’s well and truly missed by me.” (Participating musician, Rob Young) 
Jo Byrne from Marge Bradshaw's Front of House series

Do you miss gigs, live music events, dancing with your friends sloshing a plastic beaker of booze as you break out your moves on the dance floor? It’s something I have thought about a lot in lockdown – not so much one to attend the swathes of events I went to in my 20’s or late teens but know how those iconic gigs might imprint on our memories and how music brings people together with a sort of universal language. 

The Front of House photography series explores the musicians’ story, Covid 19’s impact on the music industry, and where performers might find themselves during this time emotionally and physically. The series of images are created by Marge Bradshaw a Bolton based photographer highlights her own connection to music through a number of melancholy environmental portraits.

Michael Thompson from Marge Bradshaw's Front of House series

Bradshaw aims to raise awareness of the scale and impact of Covid-19 on musicians and the grassroots music industry. Accompanying the images are soundbite stories collected from interviews with musicians, published alongside their individual photographic portraits, ‘Front of House’ lays bare the devastating outcomes faced by professionals working in the industry.

Conal Duffy from Marge Bradshaw's Front of House series

Marge Bradshaw says:

“According to the Music Venues Trust, over 550 grassroots music venues remain under immediate threat of closure, representing the potential permanent loss of over 5,000 jobs, over 100,000 concerts, over 300,000 performances by musicians, and over 1 million temporary employment opportunities for gig economy workers. I wanted to explore the hidden stories of musicians who have quite literally seen their lives turned upside down as a result of the pandemic. I’d like to hear from other musicians who’d like to take part, especially those not currently represented in the gallery, so please do get in touch if you’d like to be involved and share your own story.” 

Visit the exhibition and express interest in taking part at https://www.margebradshawphotography.co.uk/front-of-house

Find Marge here: Instagram  |  Twitter  |  Facebook


All photographs were taken working within Covid-19 restrictions using social distancing.

Marge Bradshaw is an emerging documentary and social photographer based in Bolton. Born in Blackpool, she started her photography career in 2018 after spending twenty years working in marketing and audience research roles in the cultural sector. Her artistic practice predominantly focuses on exploring people and places – often with a hidden story to tell. Drawing on her background in ethnographic research and inclusive practice, she captures authentic stories and involves her subjects in the creative process wherever possible. Alongside her creative projects, she works commercially as a music, events, and family documentary photographer. Her work has previously been exhibited at the Science Museum, London, and Museums Northumberland.


Header image: Matt Summerfield from Marge Bradshaw’s Front of House series


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