In life, as they say, timing is everything. Having enjoyed 13 years as a freelancer, on Easter weekend last year I was offered a job in the first violin section of the incredible Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. I jumped at the chance to join this awesome team of outstanding musicians and lovely, lovely people. Having started working at ROH at the start of this season I was excitedly looking forward to my first Wagner opera, Tristan and Strauss’ Elektra over the next couple of months. Like many of you, I knew that lockdown was coming, but, when on March 16th just after Boris’ speech about theatres, we were sent home with immediate effect, with no idea of when we would return to the theatre, it was still a huge shock.
Before the shutdown I had spent a great deal of time thinking about just what a lucky position I had found myself in. Just months ago I would have found myself without income for the period of the lockdown, and with the stressful uncertainty over when my work would return to any semblance of normality. I knew that I had to do something to try to help those in a less secure position than myself, whilst also giving the world the chance of a glimpse into the incredible solidarity and community spirit which I witness every day within the music sector. With a little help from a couple of musician colleagues I set up Musicians For Musicians.
Through the incredible and humbling generosity of musicians in two and a half weeks we have raised £8,500. 156 people from across the sector have given to the campaign; employed, freelance, classical, rock, pop and a number of non-musician music lovers too. The money we raise goes straight to Help Musicians, who are currently dealing with exceptional levels of requests due to the Coronavirus crisis, with hundreds of calls and emails being sent from artists needing urgent financial support.
Since I began my campaign the government have implemented measures to help both employed and self-employed musicians, but as we all know, unfortunately these do not cover a significant number within our community. As well as providing financial support, Help Musicians have written to Rishi Sunak demanding that he amend the measures to include those people. By adding Gift Aid to your donation to Musicians For Musicians you can help us by stealth to get government funds to those in need! Unfortunately, the MU crowdfunder is not eligible for Gift Aid.
I am acutely aware that this may feel like taking from penniless Peter to give to penniless Paul, as all musicians are struggling in this, the biggest crisis our sector has ever faced. However, with 52,000 musicians working in the UK, if we all gave just £1 that would be a massive pot to divide between those most in need. Here are some other suggestions of how you may feel you could help:
You might feel that you could give:
A one off donation
The amount you would usually spend on eating out at work
Your usual travel costs
If your salary is secure, a percentage of your monthly pay or any freelance work you may have at this time such as online teaching
If you feel more able to donate your creativity to the campaign, perhaps you could put on a “virtual” gig and donate the profits from that, or from a song/album you are going to release.
You can also help simply by sharing this page amongst the musical community, along with the hashtag #HelpMusicians. If we all share it perhaps my dream of Ed Sheeran donating can come true!
Donate here to help creative talent continue to entertain...