Exclusive poll finds majority of UK public in favour of financial… Jump to main content

Exclusive poll finds majority of UK public in favour of financial support for those who work in music and theatre

Rishi Sunak gives no help to struggling freelance musicians in announcement

The Chancellor has announced an additional £1 billion of financial support to the hospitality sector, including a £30 million top-up to the Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF).

While the ISM welcomes this additional funding for the CRF, the announcement falls short in two important ways.

The first is that this package will not help the creative freelancers working across the entertainment industry who have lost so much work in this current COVID-19 outbreak. Second, much of the CRF previously went to those institutions that are funded by Arts Council England. This time it is vital that more of this funding goes to the commercial sector such as small music venues. It is essential that the Cultural Recovery Funding also offers targeted support for individuals as well as arts organisations.

Following the Chancellor's statement, DCMS and Arts Council England have donated £650,000 to a hardship fund which will be administered by Help Musicians. The ISM believes this fall short of the comprehensive support that musicians need at this time.

The exclusion of funding for freelancers comes as exclusive polling for the ISM, conducted by YouGov found that 71% of the UK public support the Government providing financial support for those working in music and theatre who have lost work as a result of the current covid outbreak.

Around 7 in 10 of those polled either strongly or somewhat strongly support the Government providing financial support to those working in music and theatre who have lost work as a result of the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Significantly a majority of Conservative (67%), Labour (80%) and Liberal Democrat (81%) voters believe the Government should provide support. A majority for providing financial support is also clear across men (65%) and women (76%) and geographically in London (75%), rest of south (70%), Midlands and Wales (66%), North (72%) and Scotland (74%).

ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said: 'This is extremely disappointing. Many freelance musicians are suffering financial hardship due to the sheer number of cancelled concerts and gigs. The Chancellor needs to offer them support because our sector cannot exist without its talent and our freelancers need help now.

Our exclusive poll found a clear majority in favour of providing financial support. The public understand how hard the pandemic has been on musicians and the creative industries. It’s time for Rishi Sunak to do what is right and popular and support our creatives during this incredibly concerning time.'

Annetts also wrote to the Chancellor last week outlining the measures that should be considered, including expanding the Cultural Recovery Fund to allow creative freelancers including musicians to apply for and receive support directly from the fund.

The emergence of the Omicron variant continues to devastate our sector. This has most recently been seen in almost half of London’s major theatres being forced to cancel performances last weekend, as well as the cancellation of many touring and regional shows and pantomimes.

In addition to the top-up funding, the ISM is calling on more targeted financial support for musicians such as furlough, SEISS and the reinstatement of the uplift in Universal Credit. We are also calling on the government to expand the reinsurance scheme to protect against shows becoming financially unviable due to outbreaks of COVID-19 among the cast and crew.

Support for our sector

Our sector makes a major contribution to the UK’s wealth, health and global cultural influence. Many musicians have been unable to earn an income for over a year. We call on the Chancellor to reintroduce the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme at the 80% level until the end of this crisis.

Music contributes close on £6 billion to the UK economy and the creative industries £116bn per annum. With over 40% of musicians not having received any financial support, and many more considering leaving the profession, it is imperative that the Government protects our world-leading arts sector by putting in place support for our freelancers.


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,702 UK adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20th - 21st December 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).”

The question was ‘Taking into account all the different Government priorities, would you support or oppose the Government providing financial support to those working in music and theatre who have lost work as a result of the current covid outbreak?’