Help Musicians extend their financial hardship support fund until next year

The charity say they are preparing for "an avalanche of new applications for financial support in the coming weeks"

The charity Help Musicians have extended their financial hardship support fund until March 2021 to aid those musicians who are struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic.

The shutdown of the live music industry has hit the sector hard in 2020, with warnings of potential bankruptcies and long-term industry damage being repeatedly made. The earliest predicted date for the return of full-capacity gigs was recently estimated as being April 2021.

The UK government’s revised Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), which is due to come into effect on November 1, is set to be capped for freelance workers such as musicians at just 20% of their average monthly trading profits, compared to 80% when the SEISS was first introduced.

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Help Musicians — who say they have already granted over £11 million to a growing number of musicians since the pandemic took hold — are now anticipating “an avalanche of new applications for financial support” ahead of November’s introduction of the revised SEISS.

Over 3800 musicians have received funding from the charity since May, with Help Musicians now appealing for anyone who can donate to their cause to do so through their website to help plug the funding gap, as the charity continues to support a growing number of musicians over the autumn and winter months.

A new Help Musicians-conducted poll of over 1300 UK musicians has also found that 96% have lost “the majority” of their income during the pandemic, while over half of respondents (55%) are currently earning nothing whatsoever from music. 76% of those surveyed said they are worried about the longer-term viability of staying in the music industry.

Four in five respondents (81%) said they were anxious about paying household bills, while nearly half (43%) said they are worried about losing their home.

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Help Musicians’ chief executive James Ainscough said that “the current circumstances for musicians in the UK are extremely worrying”.

“Our new research shows the situation is awful – almost half of musicians are already worried about losing the roof over their head,” he said. “Their options to find alternative jobs are severely limited because the economy is in recession.

“Those musicians we have been supporting financially for the last five months have received assurance from us that we will continue to support them until spring. We have been able to do this thanks in part to the £1m donation announced by the Arts Council last month.

“But we anticipate an avalanche of new applications for financial support in the coming weeks and so we need to raise millions of pounds more. The ongoing crisis for musicians means we need to renew our calls for donations large and small.”

Speaking to NME ahead of last weekend’s World Mental Health Day, Help Musicians’ Head Of Health and Welfare Liam Hennessy said that their helplines had seen a 25% increase in people contacting them with concerns about their mental health.

“We’re finding that there is an increase in the anxiety about what the future might look like,” he said. “There’s still such a lot of uncertainty. We’re really in the midst of it at the moment.”

Blur‘s Dave Rowntree recently told NME that the UK government’s response to the live music crisis has given “no encouragement to artists at all” and that the country is “at risk of losing much of our music industry, the jewel in the crown of one of the fastest-growing sectors in the UK economy.”

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