Campaigning updates archive

Read about what our campaigns team have been up to previously.

You can read our most recent updates here.

If you have any questions, please email Liam Budd our Senior External Affairs and Policy Manager at [email protected]

Friday 31 July

Music Education: new ISM template letter to write to your school leaders to ensure music education remains a key part of the curriculum

As a subject association for music, and representing thousands of music teachers, we have consistently fought for music education to be central to the curriculum, and we will continue to put pressure on the government and education leaders as schools return in full in September.

You can support our campaign by using our new template letter to write to school leaders, asking that they take steps to ensure that music education remains a key part of the recovery curriculum.

New ‘Take action’ page on ISM website

The External Affairs team have created a Take action page on the ISM website, which brings together many of our resources and tools to help you influence key decision makers and have your voice heard. This includes a new ‘learn to lobby’ page and our template letters to write to your local MP and schools leaders.

As ever, if there is more you want to know then contact us on [email protected] and ask for a member of the External Affairs team.

Arts Council England's announcement of Cultural Recovery Fund grant applications and further details for the £1.57 billion arts support package


On Wednesday 29 July, Arts Council England (ACE) announced the Cultural Recovery grant applications and further details of the £1.57bn arts support package. This fund offers financial support for cultural organisations that were financially stable before Covid-19, but are now at imminent risk of failure. More information on the grant programme and how to apply can be found on ACE’s website.

You can read our response to the announcement which we welcome as necessary for cultural organisations but more need to be done urgently for freelancers in the music sector. With the number of live performances likely to remain extremely low for the rest of the year, freelancers will be without sufficient work opportunities while also being deprived of government support.

New guidance indicates that some venues may not re-open until March 2021, six months after the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) ends. We are continually calling on government to extend the SEISS to protect the livelihoods of freelancers who make up the majority of the music sector workforce.

DCMS Select Committee release their report, ‘Impact of COVID-19 on DCMS sectors’

On 23 July, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee released their report on the impact of COVID-19 on the DCMS sectors. MPs on the Committee said the COVID-19 crisis presents the biggest threat to the UK's cultural infrastructure, institutions and workforce in a generation.

The Government has been ‘too slow’ to respond to the needs of the DCMS sectors during the COVID-19 outbreak with many organisations facing an “existential threat” to their survival, say MPs. In the wide-ranging report, the DCMS Committee finds Ministers have consistently failed to recognise the scale of the challenge that COVID-19 presents to culture, sport and tourism.

We welcome the Committee’s adoption of recommendations that the ISM has been making to Government, including targeted support for freelancers through the extension of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, long-term cuts to VAT on ticket sales, and a clear and conditional timeline for reopening. Read our full response to the DCMS report.

The ISM responded to the DCMS Committee call for evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on the DCMS sector. You can read the ISM’s submission.

Government announces the return of indoor live performances with socially distanced audiences from August 1


On 17 July, government announced that indoor performances with socially distanced audiences will be able to take place across the country from 1 August. This announcement marks the move to stage 4 of the government’s 5-stage roadmap for the return of professional performing arts. Under the new regime, audiences, performers and venues will be expected to maintain social distancing at all times.

The ISM responded
to the government’s announcement stating that the requirement for social distancing indoors does not work within the cultural sector’s financial model. Despite being highly skilled, the majority of musicians are not highly paid and until live music venues can fully reopen without social distancing, musicians will not be able to fully return to work. If they do return, it is likely their income will be far less than before COVID-19 which is not sustainable.

With live music one of the last sectors of the economy to reopen, we are continually calling on the government to extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme until the end of the year.

Wednesday 16 July

Financial support for the arts and the return to live performance

July has seen a number of key announcements affecting the music sector. On 5 July the government announced a £1.57 billion support package for the arts, and a week later announced further detail on the ‘roadmap’ back to live performance. The ISM has been lobbying the government to deliver long-term financial support for the music sector and for further guidance on the safe return to work, so we welcome these announcements. However we are concerned that the money will only go to organisations and businesses, and not directly to self-employed professionals, who make up the majority of the music sector.

This is especially important as the new details on the roadmap contain no indication of when a return to indoor live performance – partial or full capacity – will take place. This means many self-employed professionals could be without financial support after the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) ends in August, and without work, as venues remain closed. The ISM is calling for an extension to the SEISS until the end of the year to provide support to musicians and music sector professionals while this uncertainty and inability to work remains.

The ISM has expressed these concerns to government and parliament. For example, our Chief Executive Deborah Annetts has met with ministers at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Deborah also gave evidence in front of the House of Lords Digital and Communications Committee. You can also write to your MP to ask them to support an extension to the SEISS by using our letter template. We’ve also published our COVID-19 manifesto, detailing our key asks and what we are doing to lobby government. Read it here.

Protecting the jobs of musicians in religious settings


The ISM has been working extensively to protect the jobs of musicians working in churches and synagogues across the country. As well as providing support on individual cases, we have written letters to religious leaders and institutions, calling on them to halt redundancies in these difficult times.

We have also provided support to ISM members and church and synagogue musicians who have mobilised to protect their work and the tradition of religious music. You can read their letter to the Telegraph here as well as associated news coverage.

Music education and catch-up curriculum


Earlier this month the Department for Education published guidance on the return to schools and the catch-up curriculum. The ISM, Music Mark, and the Music Teachers’ Association (MTA) responded to the release by writing a joint letter to government, welcoming a government commitment to maintaining a broad and balanced curriculum, while strongly recommending that the government works closely with schools to protect the role of music education. Several sector organisations also added their support to the letter.

The ISM also helped to coordinate the publication of a letter to the Times, calling on the government to support music education at a time when some school leaders may feel a pressure to prioritise core subjects. This issue was also discussed at the inaugural meeting of the APPG for Music Education, which took place on 14 July and featured a range of speakers from across the sector. As a subject association for Music, and representing over 5,000 music teachers, the ISM has consistently fought for music education to be central to the curriculum and we will continue to put pressure on the government and education leaders on this matter as schools return. The ISM has been engaging with the Department for Education to try to secure clarity on when music teachers can safely return to face-to-face teaching, and how they can effectively manage risk in these settings.

We have also produced a literature review looking at studies from across the globe on transmission risk of COVID-19. The purpose of this document is not to give guidance but rather to bring together the wide amount of available information and share it with the rest of the music community.


Brexit and the new immigration system


On 13 July the government released details on the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system, which the ISM responded to publicly. Further detail on temporary working visits is still needed and we welcome the government’s stated willingness to work with the creative sector to help develop migration routes that work for musicians. However, we are concerned that the recommendations for a new migration system contained in our report, “How Open is the U.K. for the Music Business”, have so far gone unheeded. Our research highlights that the current short-term immigration system used by non-EU musicians is littered with problems. It can be costly, unnecessarily complicated and can often result in unfair refusals, causing significant personal distress, the last-minute cancellation of performances, and considerable financial losses for the sector as a whole. It is not a suitable basis for a new migration system.

We will continue to lobby government to put in place a migration system that facilitates the international cultural exchange through touring, which is essential for the music sector to thrive.

Tuesday 16 June

Government - updated guidance for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

On Friday 12 June the Government published updated guidance on claiming a grant through the SEISS. You can use the guidance to find out who can claim and check if you’re eligible.

The scheme currently allows eligible individuals to claim a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single installment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total. Eligible individuals must make a claim for the first grant on or before 13 July 2020.

The SEISS scheme is being extended. This grant will be a taxable grant worth 70 per cent of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single installment covering a further 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

To be eligible for the second and final grant, you must confirm your business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020 to make a claim in August 2020. The updated guidance provides examples when the ‘adversely affected’ criteria are met for both the first grant and the second grant.

We continue to be concerned that significant gaps in coverage still remain for the SEISS, with many musicians still not eligible for any financial support.

Government - updated guidance for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)


Furloughed employees will be able to return to work on a part-time basis from 01 July 2020. From August, employers will have to pay a contribution, which will increase over time.

On Friday 12 June the Government published new guidance for employers by providing examples of how to calculate the amount that can be claimed for an employee who is flexibly furloughed.

We remain concerned that many businesses will simply not be able to afford employer contributions. We are currently assessing both sets of new guidance and we will be updating our members shortly.

Parliament – MPs call for government to act over gaps in support


On Monday 15 June, a cross-party group of MPs on the Treasury Committee published a report about the economic impact of coronavirus. The Committee has called for the Government to act after over a million people were found to have fallen through the gaps of the coronavirus support schemes.

In April ISM submitted written evidence to the Treasury Committee and we are delighted that the Committee has agreed with many of our recommendations.

This report strengthens the case for the Government to revise the coronavirus support schemes to help those in need of support. This includes those newly self-employed, those self-employed with annual trading profits in excess of £50,000, directors of limited companies who take a large part of their income in dividends, and freelancers or those on short term contracts.

Take Action


We are continuing to lobby the Government to protect those who have fallen through the cracks.

Please join our webinar with Senior External Affairs & Policy Manager, Liam Budd on Thursday 18 June 2-3pm to hear the latest update on the ISM’s campaigning and lobbying work. During this webinar you will learn more about what you can do to take action and effectively engage with your local MP. This includes writing to your MP using our template letters.

Wednesday 3 June

On Friday 29 May, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced major changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”) and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (“SEISS”).

CJRS

  • June and July: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything.
  • From 01 July 2020, furloughed employees will be able to return to work on a part-time basis. Employers will pay in full for days worked and can claim under the CJRS for days not worked, subject to the relevant caps. Full guidance has not yet been issued – we are following closely the matter and will update you as soon as possible.
  • August: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
  • September: The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 14% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
  • October: The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 23% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
  • Only employees who started furlough on or before 10 June 2020 will be eligible for the new scheme. If an employee has not been furloughed for the first time by 10 June then the employer will not be permitted to claim their pay under either the pre or post 01 July CJRS scheme.
  • These details on the CJRS were announced as part of plans to bring furloughed employees back to work part time. It is likely that the new working arrangements under the revised Scheme will have to be confirmed in writing.

SEISS

  • The SEISS has been extended with eligible individuals able to claim a second and final grant.
  • This additional grant in August will be worth up to 70% of their average monthly trading profits and capped at £6,570. The money will again be paid out in a single instalment covering June, July and August

What does this mean for the ISM and members?

The extension of the SEISS is welcome news for the many thousands of music professionals who depend on this vital lifeline. We are delighted that the Government has listened to organisations like the ISM, which has campaigned for an extension on behalf of our members, many of whom are self-employed. However, we have a number of concerns regarding the recent changes to both the SEISS and the CJRS

1. Key differences for employed and self employed

    • The Government has described the reduction in SEISS as “in line with the furlough scheme”. However, there are stark differences between the two schemes.
    • Furloughed workers will receive financial support until October, whereas individuals on the SEISS will only be supported until August. Many musicians who are self employed face a cliff-edge drop in income from August.
    • The self employed grant is capped at £2190 per month (£6,570 overall) whereas the furlough payment is capped at £2,500.

    2. Gaps in coverage for the SEISS

    • Significant gaps in coverage still remain for the SEISS with many musicians still not eligible for any financial support. The ISM continues to recommend that the government:

    o Lowers the threshold of income from 50% to 25%;
    o Removes the £50,000 cap;
    o Allows graduates, those who have been on sick leave or maternity leave, or those who have returned to work in the past three years to discount years that do not reflect their current position;
    o Extends eligibility to individuals who have been self-employed for less than a year or provide equivalent meaningful support to these workers;
    o Extends eligibility to individuals who operate under a Limited Company and take dividends as a source of income or provide equivalent meaningful support to these workers

    3. Employer contributions for the CJRS

    • We are very concerned about the Government’s plans to scale back furlough contributions. Many businesses will simply not be able to afford employer contributions risking bankruptcy and redundancies.
    • Due to the likely continuation of restrictions on mass gatherings, affecting live performances, many businesses and organisations in the music sector will struggle to meet their furlough employer contributions, even later in the year. With social gathering restrictions set to stay in place for the foreseeable future, there will be no immediate return to business as usual for large parts of the music sector, especially the thousands of music venues that require near full capacity crowds to turn a small profit.

    4. Lack of access to the CJRS

    • Eligibility for the extended CJRS is limited to employees who are furloughed prior to 10 June, and organisations and individuals wishing to access the scheme must be registered by 01 July. However, many workers in the music sector on PAYE contracts are still not being furloughed, despite being eligible. This is particular common for atypical workers, such as agency workers, individuals on zero hours contracts, and casual workers. Those who are not furloughed by 01 July will receive no financial support for the entire period the CJRS remains open.

    What next?

    • On 01 June the ISM wrote to the Chancellor responding to the recent announcement and we will continue to campaign on behalf of our members and the wider music sector to ensure no musicians are left behind during the COVID-19 crisis.
    • We have also updated our template letters for writing to your local MP and encourage our members to do to. Alongside this, we also encourage you to take part in our survey, which is looking at people’s experience of the self employment scheme.

    Friday 29 May

    In the last week the ISM has been busy campaign on behalf of our members and the music sector in response to challenges presented by COVID-19.

    Re-opening of school


    The re-opening of schools in England is scheduled to start from next week (1 June), with the phased introduction of year 1 and year 6 pupils. However, many schools across the country have said they cannot ensure safety and will not be opening.

    While we consider the wider opening of schools to be desirable, it must only happen when it is safe to do so. We set out our view in our guidance of 15 May, and we have restated some key points here. As mentioned in our last update, we are liaising with Government and MPs highlighting increased importance of effective health and safety measures when teaching music.

    Self-employed


    Self-employed workers are currently facing a cliff-edge drop in income at the end of the month when the Self-employment Income Support Scheme ends. The ISM is campaigning for the SEISS to be extended, like the furlough scheme which was extended to October.
    The ISM is one of the 700 signatories of the open letter to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for further Government support for the self-employed in the cultural sector.

    This week we launched a survey to help us better understand how self-employed people working in the music sector have financially coped since the outbreak began. The results from this survey will help the ISM better understand the situation of self-employed people and work more effectively on your behalf. We are encouraging our members to take this survey.

    Support for creative industries


    The ISM's Chief Executive, Deborah Annetts, took part in a cultural advice session with Queen Mary University of London via Zoom. Deborah discussed the need for an urgent sector-specific financial package for the creative sector to survive COVID-19 – similar to the €50 billion programme in Germany.
    We have produced a detailed briefing on the impact of coronavirus on the music sector, which can be found online.


    Thursday 21 May

    COVID-19 update

    The ISM has been working tirelessly over the last month to ensure no musicians are left behind during the COVID-19 crisis.

    On 10 May Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation on coronavirus where he actively encouraged people to go back to work as he unveiled a three-step 'road map to recovery' from the lockdown. However, the reality is that until concerts, gigs and festivals can return to normal, which is highly unlikely to happen in the next few months, the majority of the music profession cannot return to work.

    On 7 May we wrote a letter to the Chancellor calling for an extension of the financial support schemes until social distancing measures are no longer enforced. We are delighted that the Chancellor has listened to the ISM’s concerns and announced on 12 May to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme beyond July to October. This scheme will become more flexible from the start of August, allowing employees to bring furloughed employees back part-time.

    The claims service for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is now open and eligible individuals should have the money paid into their bank account by 25 May, or within six working days of completing a claim. The ISM’s priority will be to call for a similar extension to the self-employment scheme whilst also asking for key measures to be revised to prevent many musicians from falling through the cracks. The government has also announced that schools and education settings will be opening from 1 June. Whilst classroom teachers will be expected to return to work in the coming weeks, there will be addition challenges for music educators who operate in closer proximity with their pupils.

    We are currently liaising with Government and MPs highlighting increased importance of effective health and safety measures when teaching music. We also highlighted the challenges for music professionals in educational settings, such as visiting music teachers and music examiners in higher education, who are eligible for furlough payments but are not receiving financial support.

    Take action: COVID-19

    Write to your local MP

    Writing to your local MP is a great way for them to hear about your concerns and take steps to support you. We have published a template letter online about extending the measures put in place for the self-employed, which you can use.

    It is important to remember that MPs receive hundred of emails every day and will be under a significantly increased workload because of COVID-19. They aim to reply to their constituents within 2 weeks and will be prioritising COVID-related casework, so you should get a response within this timeframe. If you are waiting for more than 2 weeks, you can follow up by ringing up their offices and speaking directly with the MP’s caseworker. The office numbers can be found online. Another effective tool for getting the attention of your local MP is to Tweet them directly on social media and doing so in a respectful manner.

    Attend an advice surgery

    Most MPs hold surgeries in their constituency to give people an opportunity to meet them and discuss matters of concern. MPs usually hold surgeries once a week and advertise them locally or online. Because of COVID-19, MPs will now be holding telephone advice surgery and some are holding virtual advice surgery. We would strongly encourage you to reach out to your local MP to raise issues relating to COVID-19.

    Submit evidence to Parliamentary Committees

    There are a number of UK, Scottish and Welsh Parliamentary and Assembly Committees investigating the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, education and culture industry. The ISM will be submitting evidence on behalf of our members. However, we encourage ISM members to submit to relevant inquiries to help influence decision-making:

    UK Parliament

    Treasury Committee (Inquiry into the economic impact of COVID-19). Deadline: 26 June

    Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (Inquiry into the lifting the lockdown). Deadline: 31 May

    Education Committee (Inquiry into the educational impact of COVID-19). Deadline: 21 July

    Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (Inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on DCMS sectors). Deadline: 19 June

    Scottish Parliament

    Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee (Inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on culture and tourism sectors). Deadline: N/A.

    Welsh Assembly

    Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee (Inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 in Wales on culture, creative industries, heritage, communications and sport). Deadline: N/A.

    Brexit update

    On 13 May the ISM published its fifth annual report, titled Will Music Survive Brexit?, into the impact of Brexit on the music profession. The research, conducted in February 2020, captured the increasing impact of Brexit developments since the referendum and the damage already caused to the music sector.

    We are very concerned that going straight from COVID-19 to the end of the transition period without ensuring enough time to negotiate new trading agreements will be devastating for the music profession and the wider music and creative industries. To avoid irreversible damage, we are calling for the government to recover some of the time lost to COVID-19 by requesting an extension to the transition period.

    To allow musicians to tour easily the ISM is also calling for the government to introduce a two-year, multi-entry touring visa and a cultural exemption for the temporary transportation of instruments and equipment. Please sign up to the Save Music campaign and write to your local MP using our template letter.

    Immigration update

    On 30 April the ISM published a report How Open is the UK for the Music Business?, revealing the need for an urgent overhaul of the current immigration system which regulates musicians from countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) visiting the UK to perform. This study highlights the significant threat facing the UK music industry if the current system for non-EEA nationals is applied to EU nationals, as outlined in the Policy Statement from the Home Office (February 2020).

    On 18 May the Immigration Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons to repeal EU freedom of movement. This is the first stage of the legislative process for the Bill before it becomes law. If passed, it will allow the government to introduce the points-based immigration system from January 2021. Please read our briefing for more info.

    Work in the EU is essential for the musician profession and the ISM is campaigning for this to continue under a future immigration system. We are liaising with Government and parliamentary officials to find constructive policy solutions, which are outlined in our recent report.


    Thursday 16 April

    Following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the government announced a package of financial measures to support working people whose livelihoods have been put in peril.

    On Friday 20 March, the Chancellor announced the setting up of a new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”). Under the CJRS, employers will be able to ask employee(s) to stop working, while keeping them on their pay roll, and the government will pay employers cash grants of 80% of the wages of furloughed workers, up to a cap of £2,500. On Thursday 26 March, the Chancellor announced the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (“SEISS”) to support the self-employed through the coronavirus outbreak. This will pay cash grants worth 80% of total profits, up to £2,500 per month over a three-month period starting from March 2020.

    We are deeply appreciative of the government efforts to meet the needs of musicians during this difficult time. However, we have heard from our members that these measures are not clear and many musicians are not receiving adequate financial help.

    On 31 March, we wrote to the Chancellor calling for an urgent revision of the self-employed financial package to support freelance musicians with the loss of their earnings as a result of COVID-19. The letter captures the concerns of ISM members and musicians from across the sector who have raised concerns about the package not meeting the needs of the workforce. On 7 April, we wrote a further letter to the Chancellor seeking clarification and further amendments to the financial measures.

    On 8 April, the Treasury Select Committee wrote to the Chancellor with their recommendations regarding the measures for the self-employed. We are delighted that the Committee echoed our findings and will continue to engage with the Committee on further recommendations for both the self-employed and the employed financial measures. On 8 April, we also published our flash survey revealing the severe financial impact of COVID-19 on music businesses and organisations.

    We are continuing to monitor the situation very closely and engaging with government on behalf of the sector to ensure no musician or business is left without support.


    Tuesday 3 March

    Since the transition period began on 1 February, several important documents have been published by the Government regarding the UK’s future relationship with the EU and the rest of the world from January 2021.

    On 19 February, the Home Office published a Policy Statement on the UK’s new points-based immigration system that is expected to come into force in January 2021 (after free movement ends on 31 December 2020). It’s important because it sets out how the UK Government intends to allow people from both the EU and the rest of the world to work in the UK, which may have an impact on the UK-EU trade negotiations. See our latest blog on immigration for more detail. In the past week, the UK has produced documents on their negotiating strategy with the EU and with the US. The ISM is in regular contact with civil servants and parliamentarians about all the latest developments and continues to represent the needs of musicians post-Brexit.

    The ISM’s fifth Brexit survey is entering its final week, closing on 9 March at 5pm. Click on the link to have your say: http://bit.ly/ISMbrexitsurvey20

    Monday 27 January

    The Conservative Party's victory in the 2019 General Election and the Prime Minister's success in getting the Withdrawal Agreement through the House of Commons means that the UK will leave the EU with a deal on 31 January 2020. We will then enter a transition period in which the UK and the EU will attempt to negotiate a complex trade agreement and decide upon the nature of the future relationship.

    A multitude of areas concerning musicians travelling to the EU27 for work are still unclear; the validity of A1 certificates, the situation concerning the UK's possible divergence from the EU as a CITES regulator, whether carnets will become a prerequisite for soloists, orchestras and bands touring the EU and what sort of visas - if any - musicians will have to obtain prior to travelling within the EU27.

    ISM representatives will be persistently lobbying parliamentarians and civil servants during the transition period, making firm representations of the needs of musicians throughout the UK.

    Thursday 31 October

    Brexit has been postponed once again and the UK will be going to polls for a General Election which will take place on Thursday 12 December 2019. The ISM will be campaigning to ensure that, whichever party is able to form a Government following the election, the effects of Brexit on musicians will be as minimal as possible.

    We will be releasing our 'Manifesto from Musicians' in the next couple of days which we will send to all the major political parties. The manifesto has multiple policy asks which will safeguard the rights and livelihoods of musicians working across the country.

    Tuesday 15 October

    We are preparing for the next meeting of the APPG for Music Education which is being held on Wednesday 16 October on the Parliamentary Estate. Topics to be discussed include the recent Durham Commission report on creativity and education, the effects of a no-deal Brexit on music education and the future of Music Education Hubs.

    As the Brexit deadlines draws closer, we continue to campaign for the Government to cover the costs incurred by touring musicians in the event of a no-deal Brexit. A template letter - explaining the difficulties that will be caused by a no-deal Brexit - for you to send to your local MP can be found here.

    Monday 1 April

    We are calling for our members and Bacc for the Future supporters to write a letter to their local MP outlining both their concerns about the disappearance of a creative education within schools and evidence of the EBacc's impact on uptake of creative subjects. Read the campaign's template letter for you to copy, paste and send, and also details on how to find your local MP on the Bacc for the Future website.

    We are also calling for our members and Bacc for the Future supporters to respond to the Ofsted consultation on proposals for changes to the education inspection framework. The campaign has produced a template response that you can use, available on the Bacc for the Future website. The deadline to respond to the consultation is Friday 5 April.

    We were also delighted to attend the latest Council for Subject Associations meeting last Friday, where the Ofsted consultation, curriculum fund and Early Careers Framework were discussed. The ISM is one of two subject associations for music, alongside Music Mark.

    Monday 25 March

    We were delighted to read the report by the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee into live music, which was published last Tuesday. The cross-party report supported our Bacc for the Future campaign’s call for the Government to reform the EBacc to incorporate creative subjects, following evidence we provided to the committee last year.

    We were delighted that the report also supports our call, made via our Save Music campaign, for an EU-wide touring visa to allow UK musicians to work easily in the EU after Brexit. This is especially important at such a tumultuous time in the Brexit negotiations.

    We welcome the report and look forward to continuing to work with MPs on the committee in the coming months to ensure its recommendations are taken up by the Government.

    Monday 18 March

    Our survey on the impact of Brexit on musicians closed on 15 March, and we are now analysing the responses with a view to publish the result. With an extremely volatile political situation around Brexit, we are concerned that the needs of musicians are being ignored. Our Save Music campaign has a template letter which you can use to write to your MP asking them to protect musicians’ ability to travel easily to the EU for work after the UK leaves.

    We were pleased to work with peers participating in the House of Lords debate last week on the impact of creative education on diversity in the creative industries. Concern about the decline of music education was a key part of the debate, with Lord Black of Brentwood raising the impact of the EBacc on music in schools. You can sign up as a supporter of our Bacc for the Future campaign, which campaigns for the reform or abolition of the EBacc to protect creative education.

    We also welcomed the Royal Northern College of Music’s launch of RNCM Zero as a positive development and a step in the right direction in eradicating sexual harassment, harassment and bullying from the music profession. Our Dignity in Study report, published last year, revealed one in two students are at risk from bullying and discrimination including sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour. We encourage everyone to sign up to the RNCM’s campaign as well as the joint ISM/MU Code of Practice to commit to a safer and more positive working environment.

    Monday 11 March

    Our annual teachers’ fees survey results, released last week, showed a music teacher workforce under increasing pressure. One of the key findings was that for the third year in a row, rates have not increased in line with the cost of living, rising by just 12p an hour in some cases. Only 42% of self-employed, part time music teachers in schools reported an increase in their rate since September 2017, with an average increase of only £1. Respondents who were self-employed teachers reported reduced hourly rates paid to visiting music staff, with reduced hours in state schools in order to accommodate additional maths and English teaching. Our findings back up recent research detailing problems facing the music education workforce, such as the Music Education APPG’s State of the Nation report, and our report from December on the future of music education.

    We were delighted when Dr Ally Daubney was awarded the Excellence in Primary/Early years award at the Music Teacher Awards 2019, for her work on the Primary Music Toolkit published by the ISM Trust and supported by the Schools Music Association. Download the toolkit here.

    We continue to monitor Brexit closely as the situation develops, and speak up for musicians in a rapidly changing political environment. Make sure you have your say by taking our survey on the impact of Brexit on musicians, which closes on Friday 15 March.

    Monday 4 March

    There were yet more major developments in Brexit last week, with the Prime Minister promising to give MPs a vote on extending the date of the UK’s departure as well as her withdrawal agreement and preventing no deal. Until 15 March we are running our survey on the impact of Brexit on musicians, giving working musicians in the UK have the opportunity to make their views heard and inform our response to Brexit- whatever the outcome.

    We were also pleased to attend the Classical Music APPG’s meeting last week, where violinist Nicola Benedetti spoke about her new music education charity the Benedetti Foundation. We look forward to working with Nicola as part of our music education campaigning.

    Monday 25 February

    We were pleased to confirm that our Chief Executive, Deborah Annetts, will be giving a keynote speech at the Second International Conference on Women’s Work in Music in September. Our Dignity at Work campaign works for a music sector free of discrimination and harassment, and we continue to lobby the Government to improve conditions for musicians both at work and in education. Recent organisations signing up to the campaign include Latitude, Liverpool Sound City, and the Edinburgh International Festival.

    Working musicians still lack any clarity over how Brexit will affect their ability to work and travel in the EU. We were very concerned that last week the European Parliament rejected a proposal for UK citizens to enjoy visa-free travel in the Schengen Area after a no deal Brexit. Unless the situation is resolved, this means that even travelling to the Schengen Area in the event of no deal will require a £52 visa, while working there will require musicians potentially jumping through even more costly bureaucratic hoops. With the Government announcing a second ‘meaningful vote’ on the Brexit deal will take place by 12 March, we encourage all UK-based musicians to take our survey on the impact of Brexit on musicians. The survey is open until Friday 15 March, and with or without a deal will be vital in informing our response to the UK’s exit from the EU.

    Monday 18 February

    Last week we launched our new Brexit survey. Although Brexit is scheduled for 29 March, it has already had a major impact on the sector, and we want to hear from musicians about how they have been affected. We strongly encourage any musician to take part, especially if they regularly tour in the rest of the EU. The survey follows from three previous surveys which culminated in our July 2018 report Musicians and Brexit, showing the devastating potential consequences Brexit will have on musicians and the music industry. Our Save Music campaign calls for freedom of movement to be protected for musicians after Brexit, or for the establishment of a two-year multi-entry touring visa for musicians. We also lead the FreeMoveCreate campaign seeking to protect freedom of movement for the whole of the creative industries or for a similar touring visa for creative professionals.

    Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee, made a significant intervention last week in which he called for GCSEs to be scrapped and replaced with a broader set of exams taken at 18, with heavier focus on skills and vocational subjects. We agreed with Halfon that there is an urgent need for an exam system which moves away from drilling children in knowledge of core subjects and instead properly equips them for the challenges of the 21st century and the ‘fourth industrial revolution’. A crucial part of this is greater emphasis on creative subjects and creative skills in our schools.

    Monday 11 February

    Last week we were delighted to launch our report Music Education: State of the Nation, in partnership with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Music Education and the University of Sussex. At an APPG meeting held to launch the report in the House of Commons, APPG co-chair Diana Johnson MP introduced and was followed by our Chief Executive Deborah Annetts, alongside Duncan Mackrill (Senior Teaching Fellow in Education, University of Sussex), Carl Ward (Immediate Past President of the Association of School and College Leaders), and Xhosa Cole (BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year 2018). The report launch was heavily attended by parliamentarians and representatives from across the music and education sectors. There was unanimous cross-party agreement that the issues set out by the report show Government policy around music education has failed.

    The report drills down into Government figures to show how music education is in crisis in England. It shows how Government policy around the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) and other accountability measures are driving music and other creative subjects out of schools, even as the EBacc is failing on its own terms. The report also looks at the role of Music Education Hubs, primary schools, and the role of Ofsted, and proposes a series of recommendations to the Government and Ofsted to support music education in the future. Please download the report and share it with anyone you know who is worried about the decline of music education in our schools.

    Monday 4 February

    In yet another momentous week for Brexit, we were relieved that MPs narrowly voted to rule out no deal in principle. However, the vote to effectively renegotiate the withdrawal agreement makes no deal all the more likely. With Brexit just a few weeks away, the sector is on the edge of major disruption which could have a severe impact on many touring musicians’ ability to make a living. There was more bad news in the key vote by MPs to pass the Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill. We have criticised this Bill, which ends freedom of movement after Brexit without putting in place a clear alternative which would protect mobility rights for UK musicians working in EU countries after Brexit. We have been engaged in talks with parliamentarians and civil servants from DCMS, BEIS and DExEU in order to educate policy-makers on musicians’ work and the need for a two-year multi-entry touring visa post-Brexit.

    Monday 28 January

    At the Association of British Orchestras conference in Belfast our chief executive, Deborah Annetts, chaired a panel discussion on the impact of Brexit on orchestras and spoke at a conference reception on the damage a disorderly Brexit could cause to musicians in the UK. At the panel discussion, panellists from across the sector, including Ulster Orchestra chair and former senior civil servant Stephen Peover, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Director of Finance and Operations Ivan Rockey, and International Artist Managers’ Association deputy chair Helen Sykes agreed that Brexit could seriously damage the musical profession in the UK by restricting musicians’ ability to travel to the EU to work. The ISM’s Save Music campaign calls for freedom of movement to be preserved for musicians after Brexit, or alternatively for the introduction of a two-year multi-entry touring visa for musicians.

    We also commented on the announcement of a new Centre for Music in London. The new concert hall will be an excellent addition to the cultural life of London. However, we are concerned that while the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) continues to exclude creative subjects, music education will continue to decline and with it the opportunities for future musicians to make use of new developments like these.

    Monday 21 January

    Last week we launched the new website of our Bacc for the Future campaign. Bacc for the Future, with over 200 organisational supporters and over 30,000 individual supporters, campaigns for arts and creative subjects in schools by campaigning for the reform or abolition of the English Baccalaureate, a headline accountability measure for schools which excludes creative subjects. Take a look at the new website here.

    Our Chief Executive Deborah Annetts appeared on BBC Radio 3’s Music Matters programme over the weekend, talking about the vital role played by amateur orchestras in our local communities. Listen back here.

    We were very sorry to see that Newham Council are considering ending their prominent Every Child a Musician programme, which provides free music tuition and instruments to children in Newham. We responded to the consultation which unfortunately has now closed. We encourage ISM members and supporters to contact Newham cabinet to express their views before it makes its final decision on 5 February.

    Monday 14 January 2019

    We welcomed the Government’s announcement of £1.33m of additional funding for Music Education Hubs. Even small amounts of additional funding are important in ensuring hubs are able to provide the services young people deserve. Our December 2018 report on the future of music education recommended funding increases for hubs.

    Just before Christmas we commented on the Government’s immigration white paper, where the Government laid out its plans for a post-Brexit immigration system. Although some aspects of the white paper were not as damaging as we expected, we believe the overall impact of the end of freedom of movement will be to significantly damage the sector. Find out more about our Save Music campaign to protect freedom of movement for musicians here.