music in review. music in discussions.

Hundreds of Musicians Protest Outside Parliament as their Future is Discussed in House of Commons

To put further pressure on the Government for answers, a 400-strong ensemble of freelance musicians played outside the Parliament, to highlight the disaster and sheer chaos the current pandemic has had on the music industry.

In an unimaginably moving moment, the protestors played just 90 seconds, or 20%, of Holst’s Mars – a particularly sombre piece about the Bringer of War – which reflected the fact that eligible freelancers can only claim a maximum of 20% of their income from the Government.

Then, just like that, they held an unnerving 2-minute silence to reflect their annoyance, determination, viability and visibility to safely get back to work.

This is not just about saying we want hand-outs. it’s about everybody talking and finding a way out of this that is safe, but that looks to preserve music [and] performance long-term.”

Nicola Bendetti, award-winning musician, composer and attendee of protest

Shortly after the protest on Tuesday today, a debate on the fate of the live events industry took place in the House of Commons.

The session briefed concerns of music venue permanent closures as well as the economic state of the industry as a whole. One particular MP led the way in it all, “continue funding jobs” and stressed the importance of venues needing “clear signposting as to when they will be able to open.”

Conservative MPs Aiken and Watling offered plans in place to a three-year extension on the reduced VAT rate on tickets, to offering a government-backed voucher scheme to encourage audiences to return to the theatre.

There was not a majority of discussion reported within the House, but the issues that the industry is facing was raised as an overall concern. Time will tell, if there will be further plans in place for those self-employed who have been out of work for almost a year and even if these alleged plans in place will ever be actioned for theatres.

First the protest in Manchester back in the Summer, and now this one outside Parliament itself. We’re getting closer and closer to them physically but how closer are we getting them actually listening to us? How many protests will it take for the Government to actually stand up and listen to our frustrations?

Of course, frustrations were escalated with Sunak’s recent opinions on artists ditching their jobs for new ventures.

This is a reason for why the government should support the arts, it’s times like these when art is all we have as a healthy means of escapism. So, No I’m not getting another f*cking job, and no other working artist should. When this is over, they’ll be gagging for our tax money.”

Sam Fender, via Twitter

Absolutely no training or qualification is needed to become an MP. It is a profession of amateurs. No wonder @RishiSunak can so shamelessly suggest musicians, dancers, actors etc, most of whom have spent decades developing skills, should ditch entire careers and retrain.

David Benedict, via Twitter

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