It is getting on for a year now since the MU started lobbying for musicians, successfully making the case for support for freelancers and then taking up the cause of members who were excluded from the Self Employment Income Support Scheme. We have been fighting non-stop for excluded members ever since.
That includes impact polls, lobbying, briefing MPs for debates, and encouraging the community of musicians to take action. A couple of weeks ago many members will have seen our ‘Groundhog Day’ call, where we asked musicians to once again write to their MPs to make the case for financial support for everyone who has been excluded up to this point.
Members have written to their MPs in their thousands, and hundreds of MPs have spoken up on their behalf in parliament – and yet there has still been no movement from the Treasury.In England they haven’t even allowed freelancers to apply for any of the Cultural Recovery Fund money.
The Budget takes place on Wednesday 3 March this year and is seen by many as the last big chance to get Rishi Sunak to make any changes to the financial assistance schemes. It is also a key date for some of our other asks, including an insurance scheme for festivals and other live events.
Building up to the Budget
As a result, we are taking a number of different actions aimed at getting the Chancellor’s attention and asking him to:
- Extend SEISS and furlough beyond April for sectors that cannot return to work
- Adjust SEISS to ensure that some of the previously excluded people can be covered in any new rounds of funding
- In line with Scotland and Wales, open up the second round of Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) money to freelancers in England
- Introduce an insurance scheme for summer festivals and other events
All of the actions and online stunts are part of a serious strategy aimed at cutting through the immeasurable number of asks that the Chancellor will be getting, and focusing Rishi Sunak’s attention on the very serious and real issues and case studies that members have provided during the COVID-19 pandemic – under the Invest in Musicians campaign. So although the ‘hook’ lines may be light hearted, the information we are sending his way certainly isn’t.
The Invest in Musicians messaging and imagery is focused on what musicians invest in their own careers, the amount of training they undertake, and how talented and resourceful they are during incredibly difficult times.
Stunts and actions
This week we kicked off with a short video and graphics under the tag line ‘Be a Rockstar Rishi’ with one very specific ask – to open up the Cultural Recovery Fund for freelancers in England (in line with Scotland and Wales).
We also arranged some projections of the Invest in Musicians call, images that we can use to build momentum as we tell the stories of musician who are struggling as a result of Government decisions.
Next week we will be releasing a longer video message to Rishi Sunak setting out our full list of asks ahead of the Budget. This video will take a different approach once again, with different visuals and messaging in an attempt to get through to the Chancellor.
We know that we need to try everything we can to get the attention of Rishi Sunak prior to the announcement of the Budget and we will not stop fighting on behalf of our members.
Please do get involved in the campaign actions where you can and help us to keep the pressure up.
You may have spotted that there was a typo in the Rishi Sunak graphic that was sent out in a member email yesterday, for which we can only apologise.
This was a draft version of the image that was only used in the email to members, though some people have shared it from that email. The error was immediately rectified and all of the graphics and videos that went out on social media and further from the MU were correct.