An open letter coordinated by the ISM and Equity and signed by over 120 organisations and industry bodies from across the creative industry has been sent 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.
Creative industry bodies have warned that cultural venues cannot afford to reopen on the basis of social distancing and stated that without a financial intervention targeted at the freelance community, the government risks the devastation of the performing arts and an exodus of highly skilled talent.
Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, said:
‘Many of the ISM’s members are in despair. From full time gigging musicians to top flight opera singers, they have had no work since March and are without any prospect of work.
‘The reality of socially distanced performances means that most venues simply cannot afford to reopen leaving the vast majority of musicians without work. Musicians are in desperate financial difficulty. Some are leaving the profession while others are working as delivery drivers to make ends meet. This is not the way to look after our talented musician workforce.
‘We call on the government to put in place a tailored financial support scheme for the self-employed creative workforce, who are the lifeblood of the performing arts until venues can properly reopen. If the government does not support actors, musicians and technicians until they can work again in those venues, then we are looking at the devastation of the performing arts and an exodus of highly skilled talent.
Paul Fleming, Equity’s general secretary-elect said:
‘Equity’s members are heading toward a cliff edge with a parachute full of holes. The SEISS excluded some of the lowest paid and most under-represented self-employed artists from the beginning, and now it’s going to be ripped away from even those who were covered. Taxpayers are seeing their money used to shutter buildings instead of supporting artists they love and funding safe reopening. Unless the government introduces meaningful income support for our members until reopening and beyond, we’ll barely have a workforce left.’