400 professional musicians have taken part in a musical protest on Parliament Square in London today (October 6) to highlight the need for greater financial support for musicians during the coronavirus pandemic.
Music director David Hill conducted the 400 socially distanced freelance musicians in attendance through a short section of the ‘Mars’ movement from Gustav Holst’s The Planets, before all attendees then stood in silence for two minutes.
The 20% of the Holst piece they played intended to represent the maximum 20% salary support that freelancers are eligible to receive from the UK government through the latest version of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme grant.
You can see on-the-ground clips from the protest, including one posted by Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis, below.
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We Make Events and Let Music Live Demonstration in Parliament Square – organised by my bestie @jessmurphymusic and I couldn’t be prouder of her!! I had butterflies arriving in Westminster and seeing all my musician buddies with their instruments. The sun shone bright and there was a moment of calm before we launched into Mars – Bringer Of War by Holst, 400 musicians in solidarity. I hope the government hears us and recognise that freelance musicians are a viable profession. Film shot by my better half @edharcourt #WME #letmusiclive
— Garsington Opera (@GarsingtonOpera) October 6, 2020
— Nicola Benedetti (@NickyBenedetti) October 6, 2020
400 strong orchestra protest in Parliament Square performing one fifth (about 2 minutes) of Mars, representing the shortfall of vital gov support for freelancers. We keep playing, keep singing, and hope we can still do so on the other side of this crisis. #LetMusicLive pic.twitter.com/9opz87C0j7
— The Little Unsaid (@TheLittleUnsaid) October 6, 2020
— annaphoebe (@AnnaPhoebe) October 6, 2020
Moving to have been part of @letmusicliveuk peaceful protest in Parliament Square for the forgotten freelance musicians. Great to have so much support from so many wonderful musicians. pic.twitter.com/vXRUkeqEKg
— David Hill (@davidhconductor) October 6, 2020
“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,” the Musicians’ Union’s General Secretary Horace Trubridge said in a statement.
“We strongly urge the government to recognise the unique situation that our members are in, and to provide sector specific financial support for musicians.”
The Musicians’ Union have joined the Music Venue Trust in calling on music fans to write to their MPs to help safeguard the future of the UK’s live music industry.
The MVT in particular are aiming to persuade a cross-party majority of MPs to change the government’s approach to the funding of beleaguered music venues, while also ensuring that any restrictions placed on independent grassroots music venues are always accompanied by appropriate economic support.