Music industry and charity leaders have warned the government that the music industry faces ‘an existential battle for survival’ in the wake of the coronavirus.
In joint letter addressed to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, they have emphasised the urgency of drawing up measures to support the crisis-hit sector, stressing that the welfare system is not devised for such an exceptional situation.
Focussing on freelancers, who make up an estimated 72% of the workforce, the signatories advocate a targeted approach to guaranteed income for the live performers, peripatetic music teachers, composers, managers, engineers and producers.
The letter states: ‘It is vital that the Government does everything it can to support the music industry with an urgent package of measures so we can do our best to weather this pandemic. The Government must now act swiftly to do whatever it takes to safeguard the future of our world-leading industry.’
It continues, ‘Other countries, such as Italy, Ireland, Norway and Canada, have put in place emergency funds to support the self-employed in these uncertain times. You announced earlier in the week a funding grant for small businesses of up to £25,000 to cover costs due to COVID-19 – the self employed also operate in a similar way to these small businesses.
‘We urgently need the Government to put in place a similar grant or emergency fund to assist the self-employed and those on zero-hour contracts with the loss of earnings. Specifically we advocate a targeted approach to guarantee temporary income, as well as welcoming a wider discussion with Government about the merits of a universal basic income of £400pw.
‘It is currently unclear how long the COVID-19 crisis will continue to impact the world. Workers who are self-employed and on zero-hour contracts urgently need reassurance that they will be supported by the Government. Otherwise, this workforce - through no fault of its own - will not be able to cover basic living costs, such as food or rent.’
The signatories to the letter to the Chancellor are: Tom Kiehl, acting chief executive, UK Music, Deborah Annetts, chief executive, Incorporated Society of Musicians James Ainscough, chief executive, Help Musicians, Horace Trubridge, general secretary, Musicians Union, Annabella Coldrick, chief executive, Music Managers Forum, Graham Davies, chief executive, The Ivors Academy, Olga FitzRoy, executive director, Music Producers Guild.
Read the letter in full here.