Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 38, October 10, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Professional Musicians Speak Out

Let Music Live

Musicians united in London's Parliament Square and in Birmingham on Tuesday, October 6, at 12:00 noon to speak out on the value of music professionals, as well as others in the arts culture sector.

Leading musical figures including Nicola Benedetti, Raphael Wallfisch and Tasmin Little joined, supported and united with 400 freelance professional musicians from all parts of the music industry to perform in Parliament Square.

The musicians performed a segment of Holst’s The Planets before taking a minute's silence to reflect the current blackout in many of the Britain's venues and festivals at the present time.

The organisers pointed out that Covid restrictions have disproportionately impacted the music and live events industries, resulting in an almost total loss of opportunity to work. "We are musicians who are currently stripped of our community, our identities and our income," they say, on behalf of all musicians throughout the country.

According to Musician's Union research, 70% of musicians are unable to undertake more than a quarter of their usual work. Two-thirds of musicians face severe financial hardship.

The £1.57 billion government Fund for Culture looks unlikely to reach the majority of freelancers who make up the music sector, even though self-employed musicians also account for more than 80% of all contracted orchestral players. Offering support at only 20% of monthly income - for those lucky enough to qualify - whilst keeping restrictions in place for another six months, may deprive a large proportion of skilled cultural workers of their future livelihoods.

Musicians united in London's Parliament Square and in Birmingham on Tuesday, October 6.

On behalf of freelance musicians, violinist Jessie Murphy said: "We want to show that our profession is viable, and valuable. Freelancing can be misunderstood, we play in the O2 one day, a small wedding the next, and a film recording session the day after. Each one of us is a small business that contributes both to the economy and the wellbeing of the country."

Horace Trubridge, Musicians' Union General Secretary, said: "We know from the Union's recent research just how many musicians are struggling financially and at real risk of leaving music for good. In better times, our members drive a £5bn music industry with their talent. One artist's gig will create a domino effect of jobs, from lighting technicians to ticket sellers. If one musician is out of work, you can be sure many others will be affected too." He called on the government not to abandon musicians. He said: "With social distancing measures still in place, venues can only sell at around 30% of usual capacity. We are calling on the government to implement a seat-matching scheme, which would take venues' potential revenue to 60%, providing a lifeline to musicians and the wider industry. Getting musicians back to work is the priority."

The Incorporated Society of Musicians' Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said: "The ISM is proud to back this important campaign which calls on the government to provide support for the thousands of self-employed musicians that have not been able to work since March and are now facing desperate financial hardship. The government must introduce a measure similar to the Self Employment Income Support Scheme so that self-employed musicians can keep going until they can work again. The UK music industry is known for its world-leading talent which makes a huge contribution of over £5bn annually to our economy, so it is vital that musicians are not forgotten. These are dynamic entrepreneurs who will be back on their feet as soon as the sector can reopen and any support measures need only last until the necessary safety precautions are eased."



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