MU calls for support for freelance musicians Omicron variant


Photo by Andrea De Santis on UPhoto by Denise Jans on Unsplash

You know you’re in the zone when you get a press release from both the DCMS Committee and the Musicians Union during your last-chance pre-lockdown Christmas shopping trip. So it was this afternoon.

As far as I can see both the committee AND the MU are broadly in agreement.

This is what DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP had to say after Chancellor Rishi announced money for the hospitality and leisure sectors ahead of what most predict will be New Year restrictions to combat the Omicron variant.

“While we await the detail, the announcement of additional financial support for the entertainment and hospitality sectors is welcome. It will be important for this funding to help all those whose livelihoods depend on thriving theatres and live venues, whether they be on the stage, behind the scenes or front of house.

“More crucial still will be giving clarity for what the likely outlook for Covid restrictions is in the short and medium-term. You cannot simply start and stop a production or tour with a few days notice. They need to be planned and are dependent on a reasonable assessment of whether enough people can see it to be financially viable. While additional money is welcome we must also give the entertainment sector the best possible chance of being up and running on its own. Without more clarity, this will not be possible.”

South of the river, the Musicians’ Union (MU) had this to say:

“Whilst the Union welcomes the Treasury’s announcement of £1bn in financial support for businesses in the hospitality and leisure industries, the lack of provision for freelance workers leaves the majority of MU members uncertain about their future.

Early results of the Union’s latest research reports that 86% of musicians have had work cancelled due to the surge in cases related to the Omicron Covid-19 variant. Plus 41% of musicians state that they expect to earn under 25% of their usual income during the next two months, while the results show 75% expect to earn less than 50% of their regular income.

Top marks to the MU for the most devastating line about the current situation.

“Although the Government is not formally cancelling events, it appears to be advising people not to attend them, which is harming audience confidence at live music performances.”

The venues I’ve been in attendance at in recent weeks for filming and concerts have made every effort to reassure visitors that safety is front and centre. They’re doing their bit. The Government appears to be revealing its complete lack of understanding about the world around it. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. They don’t experience the impact of their decisions. How could they?

Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash