Re-classifying music as ‘hospitality’

25th September 2020 | Daily Life, Musings | 1 comment

Like many other musicians and freelancers in the arts world I have been shocked this week by further evidence that we are being treated less well than employees on furlough. Our workplaces remain closed by government order. Many freelance musicians have earned nothing at all since the pandemic began. Yet government support is about to be reduced yet again.

From November, freelancers (and remember, not all of them qualify) will receive only 20% of trading profits. How is this remotely adequate when we have no opportunity to work? How are musicians supposed to pay the bills over the winter?

It’s yet more unfair when you think that – unlike most employees – musicians have to spend money in order to be in a position to earn money. They have the upkeep and maintenance of their instruments, and sometimes also payments on the loan they took out to buy those instruments. They have instrument insurance, membership of professional organisations, clothing costs, car insurance and maintenance, piano tuning, maybe studio hire for private practice or group rehearsal, sometimes public liability insurance. Without keeping these things up to date, musicians are not in a position to take work when it comes. Now they have these outgoings, but no income to make sense of them.

It’s clear that the government has a lot of sympathy for the hospitality industry. Even though it may not make sense in public health terms to do so, the government is bending over backwards to enable bars, pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels to remain open and keep trading.

Perhaps what we in the arts should be doing is re-classifying ourselves as part of the hospitality industry. After all, ‘hospitality’ just means ‘entertaining guests’. And don’t we do this? Every concert aims to entertain guests, to give the audience a nice evening in exchange for the price of a ticket, to provide them with pleasant opportunities to socialise as well as artistic nourishment. Are we already within that fold? (I’m joking, but not entirely.)

If concerts were classed as a branch of ‘hospitality’, maybe the powers-that-be would be more sympathetic to our plight. We could easily operate within Covid restrictions and close at 10pm!

1 Comment

  1. Mary Cohen

    We do not seem to have anywhere in government a sense that the soul of a country matters.


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