UK’s music culture ‘dying’- Tamsin Little

The violin virtuoso Tamsin Little has said that Britain’s live music culture is facing the end if there is no help from the government for musicians.

Little’s remarks, to The Observer newspaper, follow a report that the music industry faces a loss of 26,000 permanent jobs and a further 144,000 freelance players - or 80% of performers - with the end furloughing this week.

The report, from Media Insight Consulting, warned that the live music industry could lose 170,000 jobs before the end of the year without government support.

“Next month we will all expect to hear the traditional sound of music as we commemorate Armistice Day” she said “but consider who is playing all this beautiful music for us and where it will come from in the future”. She was joined by Sir Simon Rattle, musician director of the London Symphony orchestra.

“My worry is that so many musicians will be forced to leave the profession that we will not be able to return to anything like the cultural life that we enjoyed previously” he said. “And that this exodus is happening right now, and that it will not be noticed until it is too late.”

Musicians Union general secretary Horace Trubridge said more than a third of his members were actively considering leaving the profession. “The UK’s music industry is a viable industry, which the government’s Covid-19 restrictions are keeping closed. They now have a responsibility to look after this industry, and the musicians and freelancers who make it the envy of the world".

He said that increasing the self-employed income support scheme from 20% to 40% meant the government is listening, but that 40% was still not enough. “Right now, 70% of our members are unable to undertake more than a quarter of their usual work and 36% have no work at all” he said. “Our members are creative, pioneering, entrepreneurial people who have invested a huge amount of time and money in honing their talent. They should be receiving an equal level of support as people on PAYE”.

Meanwhile, BBC Radio 3 is continuing to broadcast live music in a determined effort to support musicians.

Radio 3 controller Alan Davey said he hears despair from musicians every day: “Everything that was certain for the next year has been thrown into complete uncertainty” he said. “Music has got me through this so far, but musicians are particularly exhausted now because of the effort of finding ways to reach audiences.”

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