Whilst the new package of financial support is a welcome first step for venues and theatres, the MU is urging the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to go further to support the musicians who work in these venues, who will not be able to go back to work imminently.
As Horace Trubridge, MU General Secretary says:
“We are urging the Government to extend the SEISS and the furlough scheme for creative workers until at least the end of the year. These should also be extended to cover workers who are shielding and are considered vulnerable.
“The Government has repeatedly said that the SEISS covers the majority of the self-employed, but we know that 38% of our members do not qualify for either the SEISS or the furlough scheme and have been left with nothing.
“I would like to thank MU members who have been writing to their MPs. More than 30 MPs spoke in parliament this week asking for the gaps in SEISS to be plugged – so it is clear that the message is getting through. Now we just need the Government to act, and the MU will continue to press for this on a daily basis.”
Freelance concerns raised by Shadow Secretary
MU friend and Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Jo Stevens MP, also spoke in parliament this week – criticising the fact that freelancers were not mentioned at the launch of the arts funding scheme, and expressing concern that the DCMS does not fully understand the nature of the work that self-employed musicians and performers do.
She also directly challenged the Minister to ask the Chancellor to extend the SEISS and furlough schemes until venues are able to reopen at full capacity.
On Wednesday, the Chancellor set out further financial measures including a reduction in VAT on hospitality from 20% to 5% for six months. The government has clarified that concerts will benefit from the VAT cut. However, with the measure limited for six months it remains to be seen how much the live sector will benefit from the move. We will be urging the Government to ensure that the cut also applies to advance ticket sales.
Horace currently sits on several DCMS working groups that have been working on guidance documents for Performing Arts and Broadcasting, Film and Production. We are hoping that these will be published imminently and will circulate to members as soon as they are.
We have also had a series of meetings with DCMS officials to try and establish ways in which live music could be brought back in a way that would be compatible with the performing arts roadmap and the Government's plans. Again, we hope to have further news on this in the very near future.
Take Action for Musicians
Please continue to use your voice, as you can see from this week in Parliament it really is working.
Ask the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to protect all self-employed workers, and ensure no musician is left behind.
You can use our template letter if you're not sure what to say. Remember to include how you are affected too. Personal stories make all the difference.
Write to Rishi now.