Campaigning updates - August 2020


August was a busy month for the ISM, with our campaigns team working tirelessly responding and shaping the ever-changing political environment.

Read about what we’ve been up to recently or please visit our archive for previous updates.

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

Coronavirus and performing

Coronavirus continues to devastate the music sector. The latest study published by the Office for National Statistics found that the arts, entertainment & recreation is the sector worst affected by coronavirus. We have also witnessed substantial job losses and musicians leaving the profession to survive financially.

Some live performances are starting to take place across the UK. However, until performance venues can fully reopen without social distancing, many ISM members will not be able to fully return to work. With the furlough scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme ending shortly, many musicians are facing a cliff-edge drop in income. So we have been at the forefront of the fight to extend financial support for the music workforce while this uncertainty remains.

The ISM worked with Equity to coordinate an open letter to the Chancellor calling on the government to extend financial support for freelancers working in the performing arts and entertainment industries until the spring of 2021. The letter was signed by 120 organisations, garnered a great amount of press coverage, and was described by The Stage as “one of the strongest calls to government yet”.

We have highlighted the significant challenges facing our sector during various meetings with key stakeholders. For example, we liaised on a regular basis with civil servants and ministers at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. We also met with Jo Stevens MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Our campaigning work continues to be shaped by our pioneering policy research. For example, the ISM published an updated global study reviewing the current research concerning transmission in the performance and music education space. We have always sought new opportunities to promote our work and even spoke about it on a classical radio station in Texas!

Coronavirus and music education

Music education remains a key campaign priority for the ISM. We are concerned about the continued marginalisation of the subject as recent figures show a decline in uptake at GCSE and A-Level as well as significant gaps between poorer pupils and their peers. Our efforts in this area have included work in Westminster, across the Devolved Nations and within the music sector.

At long last, the Department for Education published its updated guidance for the opening of schools, including guidelines around music and arts education. However, the late publication gave little time for educators to interpret and make sense of the information. We welcomed the DfE’s commitment that ‘all pupils should have access to a quality arts education', but we are concerned about numerous reports that music education is being negatively impacted as a result of the guidance.

That is why we launched a UK-wide campaign called #CanDoMusic with Music Mark and the Music Teachers’ Association. It aims to ensure all young people can resume their learning this autumn, by sharing practical ideas to deliver music in inspiring new ways as well as advice to help teachers advocate in schools.

In addition, we wrote on behalf of our members to the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish governments asking for clarity about whether one-to-one instruction can take place in school and home environments.

Brexit and immigration

The deadline has now passed for extending the transition period, which means that the UK is leaving the Customs Union at the end of this year regardless of the outcome of the negotiations. We have been working tirelessly to highlight the significant challenges facing the music sector due to Brexit.

For example, we wrote to Kevin Foster MP, Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, calling on the government to safeguard musicians in the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system.

It is vital that musicians can continue to tour with ease across Europe, especially as we begin the economic recovery from coronavirus. The ISM is continuing to campaign for an EU-wide multi-entry touring visa and advocates for a range of other solutions to reduce the challenges facing musicians. We will be strengthening these demands in the coming months.