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Musicians' Union Secures Major Labour Party Policy Commitments on Music Education, Touring in the EU and Supporting Musicians’ Jobs

Labour's National Policy Forum document sets out major improvements for musicians thanks to lobbying by the Musicians' Union.

Published: 10 October 2023 | 12:59 PM
Naomi Pohl at this year's Labour Conference holding a large red sign saying 'There is power in a union'.
We’re delighted to be able to let members know that the MU has secured some important policy commitments on behalf of musicians. Image credit: Jonathan Stewart © The MU.

The National Policy Forum document, approved this week by the Labour Party conference, sets out the Labour Party’s plans for government and delivers major improvements for musicians.

As a Labour affiliated union, the MU has representatives on the Labour Party’s National Policy Forum (NPF). The NPF is made up of members from across the Labour Party and oversees the development of policy.

This NPF document is the culmination of years of hard work and negotiation with the Labour Party by the union and our NPF delegates.

MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl said: "We are pleased that Shadow Ministers have worked with us in such a constructive way and we’re delighted to be able to let members know that the MU has secured some important policy commitments on behalf of musicians."

Giving musicians their future back

The National Policy Forum document includes a commitment to improving the fairness of streaming.

It says, "Labour will ensure our intellectual property system is fit for the digital age and strikes the right balance between the interests of creators, businesses and consumers…. ensuring that content creators are fairly remunerated whether their work is broadcast or streamed."

The union also secured wording on protecting jobs at the BBC and across the sector. As a result, the NPF document says:

"Labour will support the BBC to change with the times and adapt whilst supporting jobs and British content.

"The UK’s world-renowned creative industries are a huge asset to the UK’s economy but the workforce has suffered from years of Conservative neglect, particularly in skills and the talent pipeline. Labour will support and promote growth in this important sector and ensure that it translates into jobs and opportunities for a diverse workforce."

Letting every child learn music

Working with Shadow Education Minister Bridget Philipson, the union has achieved several commitments to music education.

These include a commitment to "a broad and rich set of opportunities for every child in their early years and around the school day, including creative activities such as learning an instrument."

Labour has also committed to a broad curriculum that "must include subjects such as music".

The document goes on to state: "In Ofsted’s 2020 annual parent survey just half of parents said that music was sufficiently covered within their child’s education, despite evidence showing that music education can improve children’s engagement with their education and lead to improved academic outcomes, in addition to the benefits of playing and listening to music on health and wellbeing."

The Labour Party has also recognised the importance of visiting music teachers, which the union asked for specifically.

As a result, the NPF document says: "Labour will ensure a level playing field for all young people, by tackling the narrowing of the curriculum to ensure children can access and enjoy the creative arts as part of their education and recognise teachers supporting children to learn instruments and take advantage of creative opportunities as a valued part of the education workforce."

Supporting musicians touring in the EU

We know how difficult Brexit has made touring in the EU, and fixing these issues is one of the Labour Party’s priorities in terms of improving the relationship we have with the EU.

The MU has agreed to the following wording in the NPF document: "We will also push for an EU visa waiver for UK touring artists and the reduction of other administrative burdens."

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