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DCMS Select Committee Festivals Inquiry Raises Crucial Issues for MU Members

An evidence session held today as part of the DCMS’ select committee festivals inquiry raised issues such as how the Cultural Recovery Fund does not benefit musicians, Brexit concerns, and the need for a Covid-proof insurance scheme.

Published: 05 January 2021 | 1:12 PM Updated: 02 August 2023 | 1:02 PM
Jazz saxophonist performing outdoors at a music festival.
“Our members are desperate to get back to what they do best, and the UK's music festivals provide tens of thousands of work opportunities.” Photo credit: Shutterstock

The evidence session was run as part of the DCMS’ inquiry into how to ensure the survival of UK music festivals, which was launched in November last year in response to the immediate pressures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Cultural Recovery Fund does not benefit individuals

In today’s evidence session, issues raised included how the Cultural Recovery Fund benefitted industry infrastructure but not individual freelancers, who are crucial to the bounce-back of UK music festivals.

Paul Reed of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) said there is a genuine concern about talent leaving the music industry, which would be hugely damaging economically and culturally.

Permit-free access to work in the EU is essential

The UK-EU Trade agreement was also raised – specifically how it doesn't provide for permit-free working across Europe for UK based musicians and crew. It also means work permits will be required for many EU based musicians wanting to perform in the UK, which will cause problems for UK festivals. In particular, new administrative burdens and costs will impact on emerging artists and the UK's talent pipeline.

Jamie Njuko-Goodwin, CEO of UK Music, explained to Select Committee members that we urgently need a supplementary deal with the EU to facilitate touring. He stated that it would be a priority for UK Music to address the Brexit issue with the Government.

The live industry needs an insurance scheme for a safe reopening

The music festival sector, and live events in general, need a Government backed insurance scheme which covers the costs of event organisers in the case of a Covid related cancellation.

Kevin Brennan MP asked Jamie whether such a scheme should cover the fees of freelancers in the event of cancellation, and Jamie responded that this was crucial.

Jamie went on to explain why an insurance scheme is essential – highlighting the impact of the pandemic on musicians and other freelancers in music, and how the live sector needs support and certainty in order to plan for a safe reopening.

Festivals provide tens of thousands of work opportunities

Our Deputy General Secretary, Naomi Pohl, commented:

"We are so grateful to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee for raising a range of issues that are key to the safe reopening of UK music festivals, and to MU members getting back to work in 2021.

“We have serious concerns about talent leaving the music industry as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and the likely impact of Brexit will be a double-blow. We need the live industry to bounce back as soon as possible, with safety and certainty.

“Our members are desperate to get back to what they do best, and the UK's music festivals provide tens of thousands of work opportunities. Festivals are also a big driver of the economy and tourism.

“We look forward to seeing the recommendations from the Select Committee when they publish their report in due course.”

It is simply unacceptable to deny our members the support they need to survive until the industry can get back on its feet. Government must invest in musicians.

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