The State of Live Music

With the majority of live events this year being cancelled or postponed, the impact on the sector and on society is huge, not just financially buton our health and wellbeing.

I don’t normally venture into politics but this morning I wrote to my MP to try to raise awareness of how the lack or support or direction from the government regarding live entertainment is affecting society.

Here’s my letter:

Dear Zarah Sultana

You will be aware that yesterday 400 musicians gathered in Parliament Square and played 90 seconds of “Mars” by Holst. This is 20% of the actual piece, reflecting the maximum 20% income a freelancing musician has been able to claim from the government. A similar protest happened in Birmingham outside the Symphony Hall.

I don’t need to tell you that the UK music sector contributes over £5bn to the economy. However, in the current climate, many full time musicians are struggling incredibly, not just financially but mentally as well. Some have been or are being forced to leave the sector which is a tragic loss to them and to the industry.

In 2004 I registered self employed and whilst holding a part time job running a homeless drop-in centre, I spent four days a week working in music. Over the years I have travelled to and played in 5 continents, released 11 studio albums used my music to raise awareness of various charities, in particular Coventry’s Global Care who work with vulnerable kids across the world. My songs have been used in weddings and funerals, my lyrics have been used on gravestones and in tattoos (a bit weird when I heard!), I’ve been played on Radio 1, 2, 6music, I’ve been on BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 4 and played at various VIP events for both politicians and royalty.

In August 2018 I went full time.

I’ve seen the power that live music has to make a difference on the mental health of so many people, both audiences and performers. I’ve seen how it raises awareness and how it creates community. I’ve also seen how, financially it adds to the economy and has the potential to raise awareness and funds for the disadvantaged.

In Coventry we have a large and thriving community of musicians and artist in various stages of their careers as well as a rich musical heritage. Inactivity or inability by the government to provide any meaningful solution to the ongoing support of live entertainment, music or theatre, through this crisis is killing something that is more than simply an industry.

Financially, with SEISS finishing and no access to any furlough scheme, musicians who look to universal credit have to be open to any type work thus potentially taking them away from the sector.

In 2021 Coventry is set to celebrate  being the UK City Of Culture. With so little government support, our city’s music and theatre life is hanging by a thread.

The Government need to provide sector specific financial support and clear guidance on the ongoing provision of live entertainment for both mental health and financial sustainability.

Please let me know how your party is addressing this urgent need.

Your faithfully

Rob Halligan

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