Harold Heath examines multi-millionaire re-training advocate Rishi Sunak’s advice to the music industry to simply get another job.
We experienced a rare moment of unity in dance music this week. Traditionally riven by format wars and genre battles, we all collectively sighed with despair at Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s suggestion that out of work musicians should simply retrain.
Following the outcry over this statement from a music industry already dismissed by this government as ‘unviable’, Sunak then insisted that, in an interview specifically about the arts, the cultural sector and Britain’s musicians, where each question was about the arts, the cultural sector and Britain’s musicians, when he was being asked a specific question about what Britain’s professional musicians should do, he was actually answering generally about all employment and not just about musicians. You can make up your own mind what he meant.
Still, if anyone knows about re-training, then it’s man of the people Sunak, who the Times reported earlier this year was part of a team of hedge fund managers who “shared nearly £100m after an audacious stock market bet that lit the touchpaper on the 2008 financial crisis” and has since successfully retrained as an inept politician.
Despite Sunak’s admirable impression of Trump flatly denying what he said yesterday, it’s clear that the night-time industries and the people who work in them are being left out in the cold by the Conservative government. Yesterday’s news of the first round of sub-£1m awards for cultural organisations was welcome. Out of 1385 awards between £50,000 and £1m, 394 went to organisations and businesses classified as ‘music’ including dance studios, community music projects, recital halls, PR companies and Student Unions. A small proportion of these were music venues, bars and night clubs.
While this is a great start for these organisations, only a very small proportion of the UK’s clubs have actually been awarded funds. Shadow Minister for the Cultural Industries Tracy Brabin described this as “a sticking plaster over a gaping wound”. But crucially, this is money aimed at organisations – what about all the freelancers who make up around three-quarters of the UK’s music industry and who still don’t have any work?