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Fears for the future of orchestras and pantomimes as lockdown hits performers in the pocket

MUSICIANS are losing £6 million a month in income because of the government’s lockdown ban on indoor live performances.

In addition, traditional pantomimes are under threat as theatres and other venues remain closed due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Musicians Union (MU) and the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) called on the government to provide immediate funding for self-employed musicians affected by the shutdown.

They said that thousands of musicians have relied solely on the government’s self-employment income support scheme, but 30 per cent of freelancers have received nothing.

MU general secretary Horace Trubridge, whose union has 31,000 members, said: “The MU and the ABO are both deeply concerned about the future of the UK’s orchestras and the highly talented musicians who rely on that work and who are at the heart of this key sector.

“For our orchestral members, the ship is sinking and there isn’t a lifeboat in sight. We have repeatedly called upon the government to offer a lifeline to freelance orchestral musicians, but they simply choose not to listen.”

ABO director Mark Pemberton said: “Over £6 million a month is being lost in cancelled performances for a sector that was already struggling from the years of austerity. The many thousands of freelance musicians who have helped to make UK orchestras world-renowned are on their knees, hoping that the government will finally recognise their plight and step in with much-needed funds to tide them over until the concert halls can reopen.”

Leading pantomime producer Qdos Pantomimes fears that this year’s traditional festive theatre shows are in jeopardy due to government inaction.

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