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MU Offers Support and Advice on Boycotting Events

The MU is here to offer guidance to any member wishing to boycott an event, as well as provide support to musicians who have been targeted due to their political activism.

Published: 28 March 2024 | 5:06 PM
A group of protestors with their fists raised up in the air in protest.
It is important to obtain legal advice before making a decision to boycott an event. Image credit: Shutterstock.

Musicians have often expressed political views through their work and by making conscious choices about where and with whom they work.

The MU has always provided support and advice to musicians affected by censorship, or those who wish to pull out of an engagement for any reason – political or personal.

For example, we provide travel advice for LGBTQ+ musicians who want to make an informed choice about where in the world they perform or tour, based on how inclusive the legislative environment or culture may or may not be. 

We also support musicians who may not want to perform Rule Britannia, for example.

Contact your Regional Office for advice 

We are aware that at the present time there are musicians taking decisions to boycott events, nationally and internationally, due to the political connections of their sponsors. For example, this year some artists pulled out of SXSW in Texas.

Taking political action can draw attention to an issue and start a conversation around it, and respectful dialogue is important where there is difference of opinion/belief. 

The MU is here to support and advise any member wishing to boycott an event. Please contact us for advice in advance, and in confidence, so we can ensure you don’t suffer adverse consequences.

For example, if you are funded to appear at an event and inadvertently breach your contract or funding agreement, you may need to return the funding. It is important that you get advice in advance and discuss your decision with your funder(s) and booker(s) before making a public announcement.

We are also aware of events that have been cancelled due to musicians having boycotted them. If you are in a situation where you have lost work in this way, please contact your Regional Office for legal advice on your situation.

The UK music community should be an inclusive and supportive space

We would stress the importance of musicians supporting each other in challenging times and respecting difference of belief. All musicians should be free to make their own individual choice.

While respectful dialogue is important, we would ask musicians not to pressure colleagues or fellow artists into boycotting certain events. You don’t know what someone’s personal circumstances are, and may not know their own political views or heritage.

We are aware of cases of musicians being harassed on social media as a result of their decision to perform at a certain event, and this is not right. The UK music community should be an inclusive and supportive space.

The MU remains fiercely anti-censorship 

We are fiercely anti-censorship, and have written to the Government recently in support of musicians and organisations who have been targeted due to their political activism.

We don’t want the recent rise of antisemitism and islamophobia to be given a space by music. Music should bring people together, providing a space for peaceful exchange of views, not drive people and communities apart.

If you are affected by any of these issues or need advice, please reach out to your Regional Office in the first instance.

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