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Live Performance Update Following New Government Guidance for England

Outdoor live performance in front of audiences permitted in England under new Government performing arts guidance.

Published: 10 July 2020 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:31 PM
Musician is playing a guitar on stage outdoors
Remember there are legal obligations around Health and Safety and you should ensure any engager has provided a Risk Assessment. Photo: Shutterstock

On Thursday 9 July, the Government announced a major step forward in reintroducing live performance back into our daily lives. The headline was that as of Saturday 11 July, live performances in front of an audience could take place outdoors in England. This is most welcome news and means that the first three steps of the five-step roadmap are now in play.

So, what does this mean for MU members? The guidance states that musicians, provided they stick to government guidelines around social distancing, can do the following things:

  • Rehearsals and training indoors with no audience but with performers practicing social distancing.
  • Performances for broadcast and live streaming indoors with on-stage social distancing measures.
  • Performances outdoors with an audience.

Further stages in the live performance road map

Stage 4 and 5 of the roadmap are yet to be permitted and have no fixed dates at present:

Stage 4: indoor performances with social distancing in place

Stage 5: indoor performances without social distancing

We are pleased to report that we are in touch with government officials about some planned ‘pilot events’ to explore how indoor performances can safely happen.

Health and Safety on the return to work

Members should read the newly published Performing Arts guidance document provided by Government.  Section 4 looks at keeping performing arts professionals safe at work.

Remember there are legal obligations around Health and Safety and you should ensure any engager has provided a Risk Assessment to you and you are confident that your own personal safety is a priority before accepting any engagement.

You will need to ensure you can maintain social distancing between your fellow musicians whether in training, rehearsal, pre-production or outdoor performance.

Singers, wind and brass players

There has been much debate around singing and playing wind and brass instruments. The Government have now said professional singers, wind and brass players are permitted to play outdoors, with the all-important ubiquitous mitigations in place.

As the science around this evolves, we expect changes. However it is good news for those musicians that they are permitted to perform albeit under enhanced social distancing guidance.

The recommendation for professional singers, wind and brass players, is to maintain a three-metre distance between each musician and anyone else, e.g. other musicians, conductors and audience. There are also guidelines about working side by side or back to back as opposed to face to face where possible. Plus, it is advised to maintain small consistent teams where possible.

If you are a singer, wind or brass player, please read the relevant sections of the guidance in detail. You may also find MU member Richard Steggall's open letter to government on common misconceptions on transmission through brass and wind instruments useful.

The guidance also looks in detail at Orchestra pits and band areas.

Whilst we welcome this position put forward by Government, it is down to venues, employers and engagers to put the guidance into practice.  If you want advice on any risk assessment provided to you or you have any concerns about a particular workplace or engagement, please contact your Regional Office.

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