Free Musicians Union membership for refugees

05 Jun 2023

The Musicians Union (MU) is offering refugees a year’s free membership.

The scheme, which launched last week, allows musicians escaping famine, conflict and persecution to have full access to the MU’s advice and services including contract advice, legal advice and insurance cover relating to their work as musicians.

It has been made possible by the union’s collaboration with Counterpoints Arts, with the partnership hoping the initiative will help refugees build music careers in the UK.

“Solidarity and inclusion are about embracing everyone,” MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl said. 

“We want refugee musicians to flourish, avoid bad deals and exploitation, and have confidence that - should they need help - we’ll be right by their side.”

Calls for action on sexual harassment at festivals

People at an outdoor music festival
01 Jun 2023

Women and Equalities Committee hear more training, reporting mechanisms and improving the gender-balance of line-ups could help reduce cases of sexual harassment at live events.

Government to set up working group on music industry pay

30 May 2023

The government has accepted the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee’s recommendation on establishing a working group to explore issues around fair pay for creators and performers in the music industry.

The follow-up report by the committee was published in January, more than two years after it first began an inquiry into the economics of streaming.

Ministers have now agreed to the establishment of a working group to focus on fair renumeration for artists whose music is played on audio streaming services, as recommended by the committee, Music Week reported.

Chair of the CMS Select Committee Dame Caroline Dinenage said the creation of the working group “is a welcome step towards addressing the frustrations of musicians and songwriters whose pay falls far short of a fair level given their central role in the success of the music streaming industry. 

“The government must now make sure the group is more than a talking shop and leads to concrete change so the talented creators and performers we have in this country are properly rewarded for their creativity,” she added.

“The committee will be keeping a close eye on progress and also looking more widely at artist and creator remuneration to ensure everyone who works in our creative industries can share in its successes.”

The working group will be composed of representatives and experts from across the music sector and will “explore and develop industry-led actions that support fair remuneration for existing and future music creators as part of a successful and globally competitive music industry”, said former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale.

“While terms in new contracts are increasingly creator-friendly, those benefits are often not extended to creators still signed to older contracts, many of whom are paid at substantially lower royalty rates than their modern counterparts,” he wrote.

“The government wants to see a thriving music industry that delivers sustained growth in an increasingly competitive global music market alongside fair renumeration for existing and future creators. 

“We believe that these aims are complementary and that reasonable action can be taken by industry to address creators’ concerns around remuneration.” 

But Sophie Jones, Interim CEO of the BPI, expressed concerns that the working group will “disincentivise investment” in the UK’s music sector “at a time when labels are fighting hard to grow exports and protect the rights of artists in the era of AI”.

She said the effort seemed to be “at odds with the government’s ambition to grow the UK's world leading creative industries by an extra £50bn by 2030”.

“Numerous studies have demonstrated that streaming has benefited consumers and artists alike, with record labels paying more to artists than ever before,” she said.

Liverpool Philharmonic extends NHS partnership

30 May 2023

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra has announced the launch of a new partnership with the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, using music to improve the health and wellbeing of patients.

The partnership is supported by the Walton Centre Charity and the Foyle Foundation. 

The two organisations will work together to use participatory music sessions and performances to help patients with neurological and neurosurgical conditions, as well as benefitting their families and carers and staff at the Walton Centre.

A team of 10 experienced musicians and more than 25 visiting musicians from Liverpool Philharmonic will deliver music-making activities across the centre, including on wards and in staff areas. 

The Walton Centre is the fourth NHS Trust to join Liverpool Philharmonic’s Music and Health programme, after Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust and Improving Me, a consortium of 27 NHS organisations across Cheshire and Merseyside supporting women's health and maternity services.

The programme has worked with more than 17,000 people since its launch in 2008, using music to support wellbeing and build confidence. 

“It is fantastic that NHS Trusts in the region are increasingly recognising the positive impact music and professional musicians can have on people’s health and wellbeing, and enhancing health services,” said Peter Garden, Executive Director of Performance and Learning at Liverpool Philharmonic.

Jan Ross, Chief Executive at The Walton Centre said that “the lift that the music performances will be able to give to our patients and staff will be of immense benefit to both their physical and mental wellbeing”.
 

A musical career in three movements

Headshot of Kirsteen Davidson Kelly
30 May 2023

With a working life of more than 30 years, Kirsteen Davidson Kelly explores how her early career in performance has informed her present leadership role in the music world.  

Scottish government commits £9.5m to youth music

25 May 2023

Scotland's Culture Secretary Angus Robertson has confirmed that the country's Youth Music Initiative (YMI) will receive £9.5m in funding this year.

The programme, which is administered by Creative Scotland and is now in its 20th year, enables schools and other organisations to provide quality music-making activities for children and young people, which range from after-school drum bands to courses in sound production.

Roberston said the announced funding includes £500,000 which has been ringfenced to deliver on a commitment to expand the YMI model into other art forms.

He said: "Music plays a vitally important role in young people’s lives, and beyond developing their wider skills and learning we know these kinds of activities also have a huge positive impact on their confidence and wellbeing.

"We are committed to ensuring every school pupil in Scotland can access a year of free music tuition by the time they leave primary school through the YMI, no matter their background.

"YMI is focused on creating opportunities for groups of children and young people who may not otherwise have the chance to participate in cultural activity."

Music managers' programme 'skills up' independent sector

23 May 2023

A programme for independent music managers has helped build sustainable long-term businesses and support the careers of artists, according to the findings of a new report.

The Music Managers Forum (MMF) established its Accelerator programme in 2018, with support from YouTube Music as well as Arts Council England, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Music Industry Association.

Its MMF Accelerator Report, commissioned to mark the fifth anniversary of the programme, documents the work done to foster diversity and develop skills in the sector.

In total, 115 managers have received funding and training, with at least £9.4m generated in turnover for the artists represented during their managers' participation in the programme.

Of these participants, 42% are female, while 43% are from Black, Asian or ethnic backgrounds. More than 50% are based outside London.

Annabella Coldrick, MMF Chief Executive, said the programme had done “great work in dismantling barriers and encouraging participation from under-represented groups and entrepreneurs based outside of London.

She added: “The result is a real and thriving community of super-skilled managers from all quarters of the UK, who I believe will help reshape the future of the music industry.”

The future of the London Sinfonietta

London Sinfonietta performing with Children's Chorus
17 May 2023

In response to ACE's decision last November to cut the London Sinfonietta's funding by 41%, Chief Executive Andrew Burke outlines plans for a future now, inevitably, more at risk.

PRS Foundation initiative generates £22m for UK music industry

16 May 2023

A grant scheme run by PRS Foundation has generated more than £22m for the UK music industry over the past decade, an evaluation report has found.

To mark a decade of its PPL Momentum Fund, a new report commissioned by PRS Foundation details how it has helped musicians including Little Simz, Sam Fender and Kae Tempest.

Launched in 2013, the fund has awarded more than £5.2m to artists across the UK.

The fund provides "career-boosting grants" of between £5,000 and £15,000, and is targeted at a pivotal time in the creative and business development of artists.

The report reveals that almost half of grantees are of Black, Asian or other ethnically diverse heritage, and more than half of grantees are based outside London.

Joe Frankland, CEO at PRS Foundation, said that 10 years of the fund was a "fantastic milestone".

He added that the fund has been "a vital stepping-stone for so many incredible artists who have gone on to top the charts, sell out shows around the world and scoop multiple music awards".

Community arts space reopens in Coventry

15 May 2023

A community arts space in Coventry has reopened after being given a free use lease by the council.

LTB Showrooms (LTB) had occupied rooms over the Litten Tree since 2021, but when the pub closed in February it was forced to leave.

Coventry City Council is now allowing the space to be used by LTB until November, prior to the building being demolished to make way for new development.

Alan Denyer, who runs the venue along with other volunteers, said the venue had worked with 700 artists and musicians since 2021.

More than 15,000 people had visited the space in that time, he added.

Denyer said: "We’ve also now been able to include the ex-pub ground floor space too – which is really exciting as it gives us some great new exhibition areas, with disabled access."

Plans for Kent concert venue 'not dead' despite ENO snub

15 May 2023

A multi-millionaire businessman has said plans for a 1,600-seater venue in Kent are “not dead yet”, despite an offer to occupy the proposed premises being snubbed by English National Opera.

Paul Gregg wants to transform a town centre car park and former Mecca bingo hall in Ashford into a venue that could accommodate West End shows.

The proposed venue would cost "in the region of £9 million", and Gregg is looking for investment from site owner ABC and Kent County Council.

Having met with ENO's chief executive, Gregg had hoped that the opera company, which is being forced to relocate from London by Arts Council England, would be attracted to the town by his Ashford LIVE venue.

However, ENO has announced that it is considering Birmingham, Bristol, Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Nottingham for its new home.

Gregg said: "It doesn’t change anything – everything will stay as it is. I think ENO would have been ideally placed in Kent because the north is too far away."

Musician served abatement notice for 'practicing at home'

Musician Fiona Fey holding a guitar
12 May 2023

Petition launched by instrumentalist to 'protect the rights of musicians to practice' tops 19,000 after she is served a noise abatement notice by Lewisham Council.

Brixton Academy: Structural integrity of doors 'an issue'

Exterior view of Brixton Academy
10 May 2023

Met Police says Brixton Academy operators falsely denied concerns had previously been raised about structural integrity of entrance doors.

Classical ensemble announces closure after ACE funding loss

A member of the Psappha ensemble during a performance
10 May 2023

Psappha said the loss of £250,000 a year funding from Arts Council England has proven 'too great a challenge to overcome'.

Music education charities partner on curriculum framework 

09 May 2023

Two music education charities are joining forces to deliver a programme focused on improving the provision of the music curriculum in state primary schools.

Music Masters and Voices Foundation have announced a pilot programme for their partnership in which they will collaborate with 29 primary schools in one of the largest multi-academy trusts in England, The Kemnal Academies Trust, located across Kent and West Sussex.

According to a statement released by the two charities, the pilot will see the development of a curriculum framework that supports teaching staff and is informed by the needs and resources of the school communities. 

The programme plans to focus on academies and free schools, which make up more than 40% of primary schools in the country, as there is currently no statutory obligation for such schools to follow the national curriculum for music.

Voices Foundation CEO Manvinder Rattan said the programme “will fundamentally improve the music education experience for so many children”.

“The music education sector is remarkable in its diversity but it is quite fragmented,” Rattan added.

“I have long believed that, in order to make the greatest positive impact on children, we need to hold hands with our partners much more firmly. And that is exactly what we're doing here.”
 

ENO shortlists five cities for relocation

exterior of London Coliseum Theatre with pink banner reading #LoveENO
09 May 2023

Liverpool and Manchester are thought to be favourites to host the opera company from next year, with Birmingham, Bristol and Nottingham also in the running.

The coronation: A showcase for 'world class' orchestras

Thousands of Union Jacks decorate Covent Garden Market ahead of the coronation of King Charles III.
09 May 2023

If there is one thing the UK does well it’s royal celebrations, and none come bigger than a coronation. But, as Mark Pemberton writes, the coronation of King Charles III had one particular dimension - the inclusion of so much classical music.

King’s coronation: Culture takes centre stage

King Charles in the House of Lords
05 May 2023

Thousands of musicians to take part in formal proceedings as the arts and culture sector prepares to offer audiences ways to follow services and participate in celebrations.

Welsh cultural organisations benefit from £3m legacy

04 May 2023

A legacy donation in excess of £3m has been left to the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD) and Welsh National Opera (WNO).

The organisations have said that the money, left by the late David Seligman, will be used to deliver lasting support to the training of singers and musicians and will also create future opportunities for young artists to perform on a professional scale.

RWCMD Director of Music, Tim Rhys-Evans said: "I had the very great pleasure of knowing David and [his late wife] Philippa for many years and saw first-hand their belief in young people and the power of singing to enrich young lives. 

"Their passion for opera in particular was something incredibly dear to them, and the need for this artform to be made accessible and relevant to young people of every background was a major driving force behind their philanthropy. 

"David knew the impact that legacies of any size can have, and now his exceptional gift will ensure that future generations of artists will continue to be supported for many years to come."  

WNO Youth Opera Producer, Paula Scott said: "We are incredibly grateful for this generous bequest. David and Philippa Seligman were passionate supporters of WNO Youth Opera, and we are delighted to be honouring them both by continuing our work with young artists." 

Guildhall to launch performance training network for children

02 May 2023

Guildhall School of Music and Drama is set to launch a new national training network in performance and production for children and young people across England.

The network aims to “broaden the country’s talent pipeline” and will incorporate five existing centres across England, as well as an online centre for remote study.

It will offer one-to-one training, as well as group lessons and holiday courses in music and drama. 

Centres in Waterloo, the Barbican, King’s Cross - all in London - and Norwich and Taunton will form part of the network, each run in partnership with local arts venues and education providers, the Stage reported.

The network demonstrates “the depth and breadth of Guildhall School’s commitment to children and young people”, said Jonathan Vaughan, Principal of Guildhall.

“Our vision of becoming a sector leader in lifelong learning in the arts is being realised as we work to ensure the boundaries between the different levels of our training are porous and that people at every stage of life can learn with Guildhall School,” he said.

Alison Mears, Director of Guildhall Young Artists, said that a lack of investment in the performing arts in schools over the past decade had “closed down” opportunities. 

“Guildhall Young Artists is our response, as a leading conservatoire, to help increase and broaden the country’s talent pipeline, and to enable more young people to perform, create, improvise and collaborate at the highest level,” she added.

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