The following letter appears in today’s Times newspaper. We understand it was organised by the conductor Jessica Cottis.
Sir, We are writing to highlight the devastating financial impact of Covid-19 on the lives of the 4.8 million freelancers in the UK, in particular the impact on musicians across our country. The chancellor has announced measures to protect employed workers but there has as yet been no comparable action taken to address the challenges faced by the self-employed. In addition to the loss of income incurred while one is ill or self-isolating, there is also the huge loss of work itself. Extensive cancellations have resulted in a devastating loss of livelihood for thousands of artists, with, for many, projected income over the next six months plummeting to zero.
Freelancers are taxpayers too. We encourage the government to ensure temporary wage protection for the self-employed as part of its emergency measures. Norway, for example, has agreed a crisis package whereby workers receive the equivalent of 80 per cent of their average pay over the past three years, taken from the 17th day after loss of income.
Music is integral to our human experience, and our creative industries (one of the fastest-growing parts of our economy) are a significant force of good in our country. We urge the government to support those who make it so.
Lorne Balfe, composer and producer; Alison Balsom, trumpeter; Nicola Benedetti, violinist; George Benjamin, composer; Karen Cargill, mezzo-soprano; Sarah Connolly, mezzo-soprano; Jessica Cottis, conductor; Nicholas Daniel, oboist and conductor; Iestyn Davies, countertenor; Kwabs, singer-songwriter; Snake Davis, saxophonist; Mahan Esfahani, harpsichordist; Baroness Gardner of Parkes; Ben Gernon, conductor; Jess Gillam, saxophonist; Thomas Gould, violinist; Barbara Hannigan, soprano and conductor; Amy Harman, bassoonist; Charles Hazlewood, conductor; Gavin Higgins, composer; Ollie Howell, composer; Steven Isserlis, cellist; Guy Johnston, cellist; Jennifer Johnston, mezzo-soprano; Sheku Kanneh-Mason, cellist; Miloš Karadaglić, guitarist; Yvonne Kenny, soprano; Soweto Kinch, saxophonist; Anna Lapwood, organist; Tim Lihoreau, classical music presenter; Julian Lloyd Webber, Principal, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire; Zoe Martlew, cellist; Colin Matthews, composer; Paul McCreesh, conductor; Anna Meredith, composer; Joseph Middleton, pianist; Peter Moore, trombonist; Nao, singer-songwriter; Chi-chi Nwanoku, double bassist; Jennifer Pike, violinist; Tom Service, writer; Francesca Simon, author-librettist; Mark Simpson, composer and clarinettist; Stuart Skelton, tenor; Nicky Spence, tenor; Mark-Anthony Turnage, composer; Laura Van Der Heijden, cellist; Simone Young, conductor