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£5m coronavirus fund for musicians runs dry after a week

Help Musicians’ chairman has called for further donations.

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The fund is open to all musicians (Alistair Wilson/PA)

The fund is open to all musicians (Alistair Wilson/PA)

The fund is open to all musicians (Alistair Wilson/PA)

A £5 million hardship fund set up to tackle the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on UK musicians has run dry after a week.

The initiative, launched by the Help Musicians charity on March 25, has so far received 10,000 applications.

It is currently delivering one-off payments of £500 to performers, creators, writers, composers and others working in high-skilled roles across the UK.

Glastonbury
Festivals including Glastonbury have been cancelled (Ben Birchall/PA)

Help Musicians said it had logged one month’s worth of requests in one day, and had already delivered over 5,000 payments.

The fund is open to all musicians as Help Musicians is not a membership-based organisation.

The charity’s chairman Graham Sheffield called for further donations.

He told the PA news agency: “We were expecting it to be strong but we did not expect over 10,000 applications – and 5,000 have already been processed.

“We feel this has demonstrated the need. However 10,000 out of a profession of about 80,000 musicians – we are only at 10% or maybe a bit more.

“Some musicians will be alright because their partners are earning money or they are very successful and have a cushion.

“But most of the industry is a gig economy and most musicians do not earn huge amounts of money, indeed some don’t earn very much at all.

“Overnight the entire professional landscape has basically gone.

“We have put our shoulders to the wheel on this but we need more help.”

Mr Sheffield said the fund was a “much needed lifeline” but not “a permanent solution”.

Chief executive James Ainscough said: “We are delighted to be able to help out 10,000 musicians during this difficult time, but the reality of the situation is that many more need help, and the funds have run dry.

“Not only do thousands more need assistance, but the £500 grants we have been able to provide will not last the two-three month gap until they receive government support.

“Not only do we need more donations to help us provide immediate hardship relief, the Government must act with urgency if musicians are to have any hope of surviving financially over the next few months.

“The UK is a nation of music lovers and we are seeing online and from balcony to balcony, how music can connect the isolated and lift the spirits of a nation.

“As hard as it is for many at this time, we need to ask those who can afford it to help by donating, because the bottom line is that musicians need vital financial assistance.”

So far the fund has received additional donations of £900,000 from Arts England and £500,000 from the Royal Society of Musicians.

The Government previously announced that millions of self-employed people will get a grant worth up to £2,500 a month to help them through the coronavirus crisis.

But the support may not be available until June and it will only be available to workers who submitted a tax return for last year, meaning that the newly self-employed could be ineligible.

A recent survey by the Musicians Union indicated that more than 5,000 musicians have been affected by the cancellation of concerts and live performances, while more than 16,000 musicians have been affected through a loss of work in teaching, theatres and orchestras.

Donations can be made at www.helpmusicians.org.uk

PA