COVID-19: ISM calls for an emergency fund for freelance musicians

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The time is now for the Government to act and support freelance musicians. In a letter to the Chancellor, our partners at the ISM have called for urgent support for freelance musicians. They have also put together a template to use to write to your local MP…

The ISM has written a letter to the Chancellor calling for an urgent emergency fund to be put in place to support freelance musicians with the loss of their earnings as a result of COVID-19.

The letter, in response to the Chancellor’s statement yesterday, details the impact of COVID-19 on the music workforce, who have lost work overnight as a result of government action to close venues, theatres, schools and other places of work.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said:

‘Although we welcome some of the measures in yesterday’s announcement from the Chancellor, the measures fall far-short of what is needed for freelance musicians.

Whilst we welcome the deferred tax measure, our highly skilled professional workforce of musicians need more support than just greater access to the benefit system. Even with an increase of £7bn through the welfare system, it is just not structured in a way which will support the vast number of musicians who are immediately out of work overnight.

Freelance musicians need financial help now and we need the Government to take urgent action.’

Read the letter to the Chancellor

The ISM have put together a template letter that you can use to write to your local MP. It is written as if you are a freelance musician, but you can adapt and change this to show your support to the musicians that our industry serves…

Find your local MP here

Here is the template:

Name of local MP

Constituency address

[Date]

Dear [Name of your local MP]

As one of your constituents, I am writing to you to share with you the devastating impact of COVID-19 on my work and life as a musician. I am one of the five million freelance workers in the UK who is facing being financially crippled by this national crisis.

Although a hugely enjoyable profession, to become a musician takes a significant amount of commitment, sacrifice and skills and knowledge built up over many years. Building a freelance portfolio of work large enough to sustain an income to support myself is rewarding but challenging. It is not a 9am-5pm existence, but a way of life.

As you will know, freelancers are not entitled to any notice or redundancy pay. Therefore, I am entirely dependent on one-off engagements such as [insert your engagements]. If I do not work, I do not get paid.

Since the COVID-19 developments intensified, I have lost virtually all my income overnight. I am facing the prospect of not being able to cover basic living costs such as food or rent.

While the measures announced by the Chancellor are welcome, particularly for employed workers, it does not in any way address the challenges I am now facing as a freelance musician. The only option for us seems to be applying through the welfare system for lost income, which falls short in the support the freelance music community needs. We simply cannot afford to live on less than £100 a week.

I urge the Government to take action now. Other countries, such as Italy and Canada, have put in place emergency funds to support freelancers in these uncertain times. The Government must urgently put in place a similar grant or emergency fund to assist freelancers with the loss of earnings.

It is currently unclear how long the COVID-19 crisis will continue to impact the world. Freelance musicians need urgent financial help now.

Yours sincerely

[Your name]

www.ism.org