Aside from the help provided for the self-employed during the Covid-19 pandemic and the furlough scheme, which were only accessible for around 60% of MU members, we have struggled to get much tangible financial support for musicians from this current Government. The Cultural Recovery Fund was welcome but essentially supported music industry infrastructure, for example venues and organisations, rather than funding musicians to create work.
With an election in 18 months, if not before, the MU will be significantly increasing its lobbying activity and focusing on influencing relevant Ministers and MPs cross-party, particularly with a new cabinet forming in the coming days.
Pressing issues include a threat to the future and integrity of Channel 4 and the BBC, standstill arts funding, the problematic Brexit deal, the cost of touring and deteriorating pay and conditions for musicians across the board. It couldn't be a tougher time for MU members.
A Labour Government would likely deliver a far better deal for musicians than the Conservatives and we are working on ensuring that our issues are reflected in their manifesto. A Labour win in an election, or at least a coalition, seems far more likely than it did several months ago.
We will be at Conservative and Labour Party Conferences this Autumn where we will focus in particular on music education and the impact of Brexit.
MU in action
We aspire to achieve better for our members and the country as a whole, moving forward. Improving pay and conditions for MU members, as well as tackling barriers to a sustainable career in music, remain our top priorities and we are constantly working to achieve change.
Earlier this week MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl met with Labour leader Keir Starmer to talk through the Union’s policy priorities. She discussed the hardships many musicians are currently facing, the Union's #FixStreaming campaign, the next steps following England's National Plan for Music Education and more. Yesterday she also met with Lord Parkinson, Arts Minister in the House of Lords, to whom she expressed a continuing concern about musicians leaving the industry.
By contrast Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries MP, unfortunately declined to meet with us to discuss the issues our members face. Following the resignation of Julia Lopez (Minister of State for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure), we will be seeking a meeting with her successor as soon as they are appointed.
Lobbying activity continues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where we tend to encounter a more sympathetic political environment at the present time. In coming months, we will continue to lobby in the devolved Nations on music education (where we have better policy in Wales and Scotland than in England) and Brexit impact, which is of particular urgency in Northern Ireland.