By Chris Cooke | Revealed on Thursday 15 October 2020
The Affiliation Of British Orchestras and the Musicians’ Union have once more put the highlight on the challenges confronted by freelance music-makers unable to work due to COVID restrictions.
The brand new common COVID assist schemes from the UK authorities cap the grants accessible to the self-employed at 20% of every particular person’s common earnings. That’s based mostly on the belief that the typical freelancer’s workload its getting again to regular submit the full-on COVID lockdown earlier this 12 months, regardless that that’s clearly not the case for many musicians.
When requested about the truth that many within the inventive sector are nonetheless mainly in full-on shutdown mode, the federal government often factors to the £1.57 billion of sector-specific funding it has made accessible to the cultural and heritage industries. Nonetheless, in England, freelance musicians should not capable of immediately apply for that funding, and it stays to be seen how a lot of the grants awarded to venues, promoters and festivals trickles right down to music-makers themselves.
Plus there may be the opposite drawback that many freelance musicians by no means certified for any common COVID assist due to the way in which they’ve structured their freelance companies.
On that latter level, the ABO stated yesterday that its analysis reveals that greater than 30% of musicians haven’t been capable of entry any of the funding schemes for freelancers. That echoes stats published by the MU last month concerning what number of musicians have thus far gone with none COVID assist.
ABO provides: “Greater than a thousand freelance orchestral musicians have had no earnings because the shutdown of concert events in mid-March 2020. Frighteningly, with restrictions equivalent to social distancing prone to proceed till at the very least the top of March 2021, these world-class musicians face a 12 months of zero earnings”.
Concerning that argument that the £1.57 billion in sector particular funding overcomes different gaps in assist for these within the inventive sectors, the 2 musician organisations state “that is deceptive”. That funding, they add, “is designed to forestall organisations from going bust earlier than the top of the monetary 12 months. It is not going to allow these orchestras that obtain funding to interact their musicians for paid work or assist freelance musicians prevented from working by COVID-19 restrictions”.
Formally calling on the UK authorities to do extra to particularly assist freelance music-makers, MU Normal Secretary Horace Trubridge says: “We now have been working with the federal government to attempt to make sure that all musicians are capable of get again to work safely as quickly as potential. However as issues stand 70% are at present unable to do greater than 1 / 4 of their regular work”.
“Within the meantime, we desperately want the Chancellor to develop the [freelancer support] to cowl greater than 20% of month-to-month income and plug the gaps that imply that 38% of musicians are ineligible for the wage assist schemes’, he goes on. “We additionally urge the Treasury and the Division For Digital, Tradition, Media & Sport to permit Arts Council England to distribute a number of the £1.57 billion devoted to tradition to particular person freelancers, because the devolved administrations have accomplished in Wales and Scotland”.
In the meantime, ABO Director Mark Pemberton provides: “These musicians who’ve been capable of profit from [freelancer support] will see the third tranche of assist fall to twenty% of common income for the interval November 2020 to March 2021. That is merely not sufficient for the working musician to reside on”.
“And the phrase ‘working’ is moot”, he continues. “The aim of the [scheme] is to assist ‘self-employed people who’re actively persevering with to commerce, however are dealing with decreased demand because of coronavirus’. However because of government-imposed restrictions, musicians are prevented from buying and selling, just because live performance halls throughout the nation stay closed. That is significantly acute in Scotland, Wales and Northern Eire, the place venues stay forbidden from opening their doorways to the general public”.