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Support Vital in the Lead Up to Possible Return to Work, a Lobbying Update

MU Head of Communications and Government Relations Isabelle Gutierrez explains what we’re doing to lobby the Government for vital support, both in our current situation and as musicians are more able to return to work.

Published: 22 May 2020 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:30 PM
Photograph of man playing saxophone at home with a video and audio recording set up.
Existing gaps that have seen 45% of our members ineligible for support must be plugged.

On Tuesday 19 May the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced the creation of a taskforce to oversee the revival of the recreation and leisure sectors. We have written to the Minister to request union involvement in this working party, and will submit to any review that is held.

The MU continues to argue for the SEISS scheme to be extended in line with the furlough scheme, and for the existing gaps that have seen 45% of our members ineligible for support to be plugged.

Letters to the Chancellor and the Culture Secretary have thus far gone unanswered, so we have put down parliamentary questions through friendly MPs in order to keep the pressure up. Useful conversations have been had with the Labour Party leader and the Shadow Culture Secretary, who are also pressing on our issues.

We have also been making the specific case for musicians in parliament, as even with the Government’s plans for the relaxation of lockdown, it is difficult to see how many musicians will be able to return to ‘normal’ work this calendar year.

The MU can envisage a time later this year where most workers may be back at work but where musicians working in theatres, live music venues and festivals are still unable to return. At that time, it will be vital for the Government to help musicians to survive until they are able to return to work.

The MU has also sent suggestions to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport regarding how they could support the sector to ‘come back to work’ as much as possible over the coming months. Not only would a phased return of live music be a lifeline for musicians, it could also provide a much-needed morale boost for the rest of the UK population.

Ideas that the MU is working on and putting to Government include:

  • Pop up gigs
  • Extended busking
  • Drive in gigs
  • Live gig buses
  • Fixing the unfair streaming payment system
  • Socially distanced paid broadcasts of live events
  • Assistance funds

Want to know what a return to work for musicians under the Government’s Covid-19 recovery phase could look like? Read our blog on picturing possibilities for the return to work by MU Deputy General Secretary Naomi Pohl.

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