Day Five of #WeMakeEvents’ Survival in the Square Week, with Let Music Live
Friday 30th October 2020, 12:00
Parliament Square, London
Let Music Live launched on October 6th with their highly-publicised performance on Parliament Square. Leading freelance musicians including Nicola Benedetti, Tasmin Little and David Hill united to call for targeted support for colleagues in the arts and entertainment sector. This Friday 30 October, leading UK operatic voices including Natalya Romaniw, Grant Doyle, Mary Bevan, Rhian Lois, Monica McGhee, and Mimi Doulton join forces with 150 freelance professional opera singers to perform the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi’s ‘Nabucco’, with renowned freelance conductor Jack Holton leading a team of maestri on the day. Opera Holland Park has also pledged its support and has helped to publicise the event.

The performance will be Covid-safe and adhere strictly to social distancing regulations, facilitated by #WeMakeEvents.
image.Over the last five months, the #WeMakeEvents campaign has been tirelessly raising awareness of the current plight facing the live entertainment sector and its urgent need for financial support if it is to survive the Covid-19 crisis. With the introduction of tier systems and the continued local lockdowns, returning to work has been made increasingly difficult for over one million people in the live events industry.
This forms part of #WeMakeEvents’ “Survival in the Square”, a series of performances with six socially-distanced pieces taking place each day on Parliament Square. The demonstrations have covered a variety of genres across the performing arts spectrum, including:Monday: BalletTuesday: ComedyWednesday: SongThursday: ActorsFriday: OperaSaturday: West End Waiting and The BowLet Music Live calls on the Government:to recognise that freelance musicians are an economic asset. It is essential they invest in freelancers so that they can continue to support the intricate network of businesses that rely on arts and events for their footfall.for sector-specific support to reopen, including a subsidised concert ticket scheme while social distancing restrictions remain, and Government-backed insurance for live events and theatre performances.for targeted support for those skilled workforces forced to remain closed by Covid restrictions, so that freelance musicians are still there to bring music to everyone when this is over.
James Clutton, Director of Opera, Opera Holland Park comments: “Opera Holland Park is not defined by a building. It’s defined by a commitment to artistic excellence and inclusivity, by the freelancers who start their careers with us and come back every year, by the crew, by the staff, by the volunteers, the members and supporters, and the chorus. I am proud to stand with the singers today.”

Dame Sarah Connolly, mezzo-soprano, comments: “The lack of understanding shown by members of this government towards musicians in this Covid crisis is appalling. Suggesting that musicians retrain is an insult to the very core of what we have spent a lifetime training for. Yes, £1.5 billion has been made available to the cultural sector, (compared to Germany’s €50 billion) but who is benefitting? Certainly not the theatre technicians, make-up artists, performers, directors, conductors and freelance players. The national GDP income is over £100 billion, so what will it take to encourage Rishi Sunak to support those aforementioned above because at the moment, nothing is happening as Covid worsens?”

Monica McGhee, a freelance operatic soprano, says of her involvement in Friday’s event: “In the last 3 years I have fought to save my voice when I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. I have fought to repair my voice from the damage of my operation and illness, I have fought to be back on stage, and now I am here today to fight once again for the arts as a whole. I know how it feels to be faced with the reality of never singing on stage again. I didn’t accept it 3 years ago, and I won’t accept it now. I am singing today for all those who feel silenced and broken by this year. We are not just viable, we are vital!”

Gary White, Lead Producer of #WeMakeEvents, comments: “The latest government support packages, although welcome, are not reaching the majority of those who need them the most and will only benefit a small group. Larger, more meaningful action needs to be taken.

“With Survival in the Square, we truly want to showcase the diversity of performance and just how far the live events industry stretches. We want to display to Parliament the spectrum of skills and talent involved within live events. These cross over into the hospitality sector, yet aren’t eligible for any of the hospitality funds recently announced by the Government.

“We need to ensure the Government realises what we bring to the UK economically and culturally. We will be a good return on investment for the future, and that we will continue to campaign until there is sufficient support for everyone involved in our industry.”

Horace Trubridge, Musicians’ Union General Secretary, said: “We know from the Union’s recent research just how many musicians are struggling financially and at real risk of leaving music for good. In better times, our members drive a £5bn music industry with their talent. One artist’s gig will create a domino effect of jobs, from lighting technicians to ticket sellers. If one musician is out of work, you can be sure many others will be affected too. We appreciate all the Government has done to support our members through the furlough and self-employment income support schemes so far, but they must not abandon musicians now. With social distancing measures still in place, venues can only sell at around 30% of usual capacity. We are calling on the Government to implement a seat-matching scheme, which would take venues’ potential revenue to 60%, providing a lifeline to musicians and the wider industry. Getting musicians back to work is the priority. However, this is simply not realistic for so many of our members while social distancing remains in place. We strongly urge the Government to recognise the unique situation that our members are in, and to provide sector specific financial support for musicians.”

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of The Incorporated Society of Musicians said: “The ISM is proud to back this important campaign which calls on the government to provide support for the thousands of self-employed musicians that have not been able to work since March and are now facing desperate financial hardship. The government must introduce a measure similar to the Self Employment Income Support Scheme so that self-employed musicians can keep going until they can work again. The UK music industry is known for its world-leading talent which makes a huge contribution of over £5bn annually to our economy, so it is vital that musicians are not forgotten. These are dynamic entrepreneurs who will be back on their feet as soon as the sector can reopen and any support measures need only last until the necessary safety precautions are eased.”

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