Another body blow for creatives in the music industry took place a couple of days ago, the second one in a matter of weeks. The first was at the end of January when the Government announced that is has ‘no plans’ to comply with the EU Copyright Directive after the country leaves the European Union via Brexit. This has huge implications for the music industry.
As the UK Council of Music Makers said, ‘Without this Directive, creators will be entirely deprived of any means to get a fair remuneration in the online environment: the market will be entirely driven by the commercial interests of free-riding tech giants’
But the irony is, that it will be the UK creatives who are not protected, when it was the UK music industry representatives like BASCA who helped shape the EU Copyright Directive in the first place. In fact they were the most vocal in support of it.
As Andrea C. Martin, CEO of PRS for Music, said, ‘If our creator community is not going to benefit from the same level of protection as those in Europe, we urge the government to set out clearly and quickly how it will ensure the UK remains an attractive home for creative businesses and their rights.’
The next body blow to our industry came two days ago following the publication of the Government’s EU negotiation mandate on 27 February, that the UK will not be seeking to participate in the next Creative Europe programme, due to start in January 2021.
It would seem that this is due to Brexit and sadly we will be losing the funding that Creative Europe provided of €74m to the UK in 2018 towards our TV and film companies.
Equity has called for the government to address the shortfall in funding and is demanding an increase in spending on the arts budget to 0.5% of GDP.
Maureen Beattie (Equity President) reminded us in her open letter to the Prime Minister in the latest Equity magazine; the creative industries contribute £101.5 billion to the economy...’Growing at twice the rate of the economy as a whole’. In other words we matter...hugely.
She asked the Prime Minister the question ‘ How will you support the workers who bring such kudos and Wealth into the UK?
Well, we would all dearly like to know the answer to that one!
So why am I getting so worked up about it? Since I work in both Music and Theatre to me this is a double threat.
Everyone knows that funding a theatrical production for instance has always been a risky business , but things are getting tricky...not impossible, but tougher. And when the money is tight everyone suffers.
Theatre has always been imaginative when it comes to making do, or seeing another way of doing things. That’s great but it would be a pity to completely compromise standards. But if there was ever a time to think outside the box it is now.
This certainly works well in the case of The National Theatre of Scotland with it’s tag line ‘ Theatre Without Walls’, but then they have proper funding coming from Creative Scotland. But just how do smaller companies survive when there is such competition for funds?
During Christmas 2018 with the family show I composed and wrote with David Stoll called “ Little Fir Tree’ we just about managed it, by happily aligning ourselves with an inner city Tree Planting Project supported by The Woodland Trust and also through establishing LFT Productions whose philosophy it is to ‘... Bring Forest Magic to the Inner City. In that way we were able to set up Tree Awareness workshops in schools and at the same time get good publicity for the staged concert at Kings Place. In this way everyone was able to benefit and we also got a good mixed demographic in our audience.
The question is, where is the future funding coming from? Sean Egan , journalist for the ‘Stage’ mentioned a couple of years back that support from local authorities had crashed in the past three years , down 21% according to Arts Index and it is set to fall further.
Competition for funding from Trusts and Foundations has greatly increased and the Art Index reports corporate giving over the last three years has fallen 36%.
So how do Theatre Companies react to these circumstances and who is paying the creatives to create, or indeed paying the performers to perform?
Co-productions are one answer of course, and many theatre companies are doing just that, but it’s easier to say than actually do. It takes time to establish a relationship. It doesn’t just happen overnight. My concern is that if all organisations are stretched we are all going to suffer from lack of funds.
It stands to reason that if the old ways of working are becoming redundant, then a new way of thinking must emerge.
Am I open to new ideas.? Yes...I really am, so please send them my way!