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House of Commons Debate Covers Ongoing Impact of Covid-19 on Cultural Sector

The Minister for Culture, Caroline Dinenage was back in the House of Commons today to address a debate on the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on the cultural sector.

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By Isabelle Gutierrez Published: 02 March 2021 | 5:37 PM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:32 PM
Photograph of the houses of commons at dusk, the sky fades across the picture from a lighter to a darker blue and some of the clouds are illuminated pink.
Once again, we must thank members for continuing to help us put pressure on MPs - today was another illustration of just how effective this lobbying is proving. Photo credit: Shutterstock

This was on the back of a Government press release earlier in the day that announced more money for the Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) but without any guarantee that any of it will be made available for freelancers in England.

Before the debate we got in touch with Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Jo Stevens, to ask her to challenge the Minister on this point, and we are very grateful to Jo for doing so. She made the point that Wales and Scotland have made sections of their CRF money available for freelancers to apply for and highlighted the injustice of musicians in England being ineligible for any part of the English portion of the fund.

Thank you to members for continuing to help us put pressure on MPs

Jo was not the only MP who spoke up on behalf of MU members, with MU allies such as Kevin Brennan and Pete Wishart passionately arguing for the Chancellor to plug the gaps in SEISS support in tomorrow’s budget. Many MPs also took the opportunity to ask the Government to fix the problems facing touring as a result of Brexit.

Of particular note, however, was the number of Conservative MPs who quoted statistics from the MU’s impact surveys and argued for further support for musicians.

Once again, we must thank members for continuing to help us put pressure on MPs - today was another illustration of just how effective this lobbying is proving. We are accustomed to Labour MPs speaking up on our behalf, but this level of additional support from MPs from other parties is very welcome.

Whatever happens, the MU will keep fighting

Of course, no amount of pressure from MPs will help our members unless the Chancellor Rishi Sunak takes action tomorrow, but the hundreds of MPs who have spoken up on our behalf over the past year have our thanks.

Whatever happens in tomorrow’s budget, the MU will keep fighting until every one of our members receives the financial help that they are due and we will not let the Government put this issue to bed until they agree to invest in musicians.

Keep an eye on our Invest in Musicians campaign hub, Twitter and Instagram accounts for updates on the budget tomorrow.

Today we’re calling on musicians to take part in our day of action

This Tuesday 2 March, call on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to invest in musicians across social media.

Share your story using our updated DIY graphic.

  1. Log in to your Google account if you have one, to access the graphic
  2. Make a copy of the template and customise it by switching out the text for your story and replacing the photo with one of your own
  3. Download the image and share it across social media using the hashtag #InvestInMusicians. Tag us using @WeAreTheMU on Twitter and Instagram, and @Musicians.Union on Facebook.

If you need any assistance, look at our more detailed instructions and email campaigns@theMU.org.

If you’ve already shared your story, please share it again on Tuesday. Your stories, your words, are essential to help us make the case for musicians.

Explore more musicians’ stories in our dedicated campaign hub and our Instagram Highlights, where you’ll also find musicians’ messages for Rishi Sunak.

Our call on the Government to Invest in Musicians

The case for support is clear and powerful:

  • Music is worth £5.8bn to the UK economy
  • 38% musicians are falling through gaps in support
  • Musicians are an entrepreneurial, community minded and highly skilled workforce
  • You have invested time and money into your career
  • Without Government support, over 70% musicians are uncertain of their future in the music industry.

That’s why we’re calling on Rishi Sunak to do 5 things in his Budget:

  1. Extend SEISS and furlough beyond April for sectors that cannot return to work
  2. Adjust SEISS to ensure that all musicians are covered in future rounds of funding
  3. Open up the next round of the Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) to freelancers in England – in line with Scotland and Wales
  4. Introduce an insurance scheme for summer festivals and other events
  5. A subsidy for live events to happen with reduced capacity under social distancing

Explore our full list of asks – including changing the law on the Orchestra Tax Relief to include digital audiences.

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MU Expresses Horror at Proposed Halving of Funding for Music at HE in England

The Government has announced that it plans to impose a 50 percent funding cut to “high cost” subjects at higher education (HE) in England, including music. This is because music and the arts are not among its “strategic priorities”. Members are encouraged to respond to their consultation.

Read more about MU Expresses Horror at Proposed Halving of Funding for Music at HE in England