ISM highlights the impact of lockdown extension on musicians in… Jump to main content

ISM highlights the impact of lockdown extension on musicians in England

The ISM has written to a number of politicians in England to highlight how extending restrictions affected musicians and setting out our recommendations about what must be done to address the crisis.

These included:

  • Contact with Oliver Dowden MP (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) asking the Government to publish safety mitigations that organisers of live events can begin to adopt before we reach Step 4 of the Roadmap. Following the publication of the Events Research Programme, we wrote a second letter asking for sector-specific guidance to aid the return of cultural events.
  • A letter to the Chancellor and MPs on the Treasury Select Committee highlighting the economic impact of the four-week delay and suggesting appropriate intervention.
  • A letter to Sajid Javid MP (the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care) which compared the disparity in public health guidance between music and comparable activity, such as sport.
  • A letter to MPs on the Public Accounts Select Committee in reference to their recent report on the Cultural Recovery Fund, which supported our recommendation that more support should be extended to freelancers. Their report also endorsed our proposal for a government-backed insurance scheme to give live events the confidence to return safely.

The UK’s £5.8bn music sector makes a major contribution to the UK’s wealth, health and global cultural influence. Significant efforts must be made to protect live performance and ensure its return once restrictions are lifted.

Our position

When the Prime Minister announced on 14 June that the current restrictions will remain for at least a further four weeks in England, he was prioritising public health concerns. However, there is an economic price to pay for these safety measures and the announcement represented another crippling blow to the music industry.

That is why many in our sector welcomed the Government finally responding to our demand for the publication of the results from the Events Research Programme. It confirmed that there has been just a handful of positive cases among thousands of attendees at the pilot events. This will give organisers confidence to plan live events safely across the UK. However, we now need to see the urgent publication of supportive guidance for the return of live performance on the 19 July as well as the scientific evidence for the ongoing restrictions on amateur choirs singing.

The comprehensive return of live performance is crucial because it is estimated that the lockdown extension cost the live music sector over £500m, putting 5,000 events at risk of cancellation. With many musicians not having received any financial support during this crisis, and many more considering leaving the profession, it is imperative that the Government implements measures to protect livelihoods.

For months, the Incorporated Society of Musicians and our members have been calling on the Government to remove the obstacles to venues reopening, improve the viability of live performance and help ensure the sector continues to attract and retain talent. We hope that these letters represent a positive opportunity to increase understanding amongst politicians in England.