The move to permit a return to indoor live performances follows intense lobbying from the Union and other music industry organisations since live performance venues were closed by Government order in March.
The Union has also been closely involved in the drafting of guidance for the reopening of workplaces to ensure appropriate health and safety measures are put in place. Social distancing guidelines must be followed for indoor performances alongside the Government's Covid-19 guidelines for live performance.
This change will not apply in areas of local lockdown and nightclubs across England will also remain closed. See up to date advice on work permitted in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Continued sector specific support still essential
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said:
“The nation’s hard work to keep the virus under control means we can now make further careful progress on recovery with allowing audiences back for indoor performances, fans back at sports events and the reopening of more Covid-19-secure leisure businesses.”
Horace Trubridge, MU General Secretary, commented:
"While this announcement is warmly welcomed by the Union, we know that it won't result in MU members being able to make a living again in the short to medium term.
“The Government's £1.57bn for the Arts, whilst a great investment in cultural organisations, will not filter down to the majority of musicians and creators. We still fear a huge talent exodus from the music industry which would be devastating and take years, if not decades, to claw back.
“While many of our members' workplaces remain closed and organisations are operating at severely limited capacity, we need continued Government support for our sector's workforce specifically."
Many venues, arts and music organisations cannot reopen while social distancing remains in place. Some are inhibited by lack of space while many others are ineligible for funding and therefore cannot reopen because it is not economically viable to do so. Orchestras may be able to begin working if sufficiently funded but in most cases we will see small ensembles rather than full strength orchestral concerts.
We also await further news on the relaxation of guidance around singers, brass and wind instruments in particular. We are hopeful for a relaxation as we have consistently argued that the risks are not as great as was originally assumed by Public Health England.
Returning to work where possible
We would encourage our members to make the most of any opportunity to get back to work now that the following are permissable:
- Session and studio-based work
- Indoor and outdoor performances in pubs, bars and restaurants
- Open air gigs and busking
- Music teaching online and in person where government guidelines can be adhered to
- Orchestral and theatre work as well as gigs in music venues, where social distancing guidelines are followed.
Musicians should familiarise themselves with the guidance that we’ve published on health and safety when returning to live performance, recording studios and teaching.
We will continue to offer up-to-date advice and guidance in these areas and any others as Government restrictions are further relaxed.
MU members across the UK will also be offered practical assistance with Arts Council funding applications in due course (watch this space) as we know funding for projects and work by individuals is important to facilitate music creation while many workplaces remain closed.
Guidance for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
MU members in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will also be kept up to speed as further guidance is published by devolved administrations.
Our Regional Organisers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are working extremely hard and contributing to draft guidance, as well as pushing for further research into wind, brass and singing.
Continued action for musicians
Our fight to get our members back to work and earning again safely is far from over. We urgently need:
1. The UK Government, Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) and SEISS for workers in the arts and music who cannot return to work fully until social distancing ends.
2. Income support for the 38% of MU members who were ineligible for the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and SEISS and for support to be backdated to March.
You can read more about what we’re calling for and how we’re pressing the Government to act in our latest lobbying update.