Entertainment

Nine in 10 musicians say Government has not done enough to support sector – poll

The Musicians' Union has called for the Government to implement a seat-matching scheme.

Nine in 10 (88%) musicians believe the Government has not done enough to support the sector during the pandemic, according to a new poll.

The Musicians’ Union (MU) surveyed 2,000 of its members between September 7-14 over how Covid-19 had affected their work.

A third (34%) said they were considering abandoning the industry due to financial hardship, while 47% have already sought work outside the sector.

When the furlough scheme closes at the end of October, 87% of those musicians who were covered said they will face financial hardship.

A third (33%) said they did not currently qualify for any of the available support.

The MU, which represents some 32,000 professional musicians, called on the Government to implement a seat-matching scheme.

This would see the Government match the price of each concert ticket sold, for as long as social distancing remained in place, making it impossible for venues to break even due to reduced capacity.

MU general secretary Horace Trubridge said: “These figures are devastating and show how many musicians are struggling financially and at real risk of leaving music for good.

“In better times, our members drive a £5 billion music industry with their talent. One artist’s gig will create a domino effect of jobs – from lighting technicians to ticket sellers. If one musician is out of work, you can be sure many others will be affected too.

“We appreciate all the Government has done to support our members through the furlough and self-employment income support schemes so far, but they must not abandon musicians now. With social-distancing measures still in place, venues can only sell at around 30% of usual capacity.

“We are calling on the Government to implement a seat-matching scheme, which would take venues’ potential revenue to 60%, providing a lifeline to musicians and the wider industry.

“Getting musicians back to work is the priority. However, this is simply not realistic for so many of our members while social distancing remains in place. We strongly urge the Government to recognise the unique situation that our members are in and to provide sector specific financial support for musicians.”

A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokeswoman said: “We are working flat out to support our world class performing arts sector through challenging times. Our unprecedented £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund builds on £200 million in emergency public funding to stabilise organisations, protect jobs and ensure work continues to flow to freelancers.

“We have already provided emergency funding to support 135 grassroots music venues and are processing applications for more than £800 million of additional grant funding. We are working closely with the sector to ensure this funding is distributed quickly and fairly.”

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