Sherelle says live music industry is “in complete dire straights” on BBC Newsnight

Last night (6 October), Sherelle and Róisín Murphy appeared on BBC Newsnight to talk about how artists are faring during the pandemic, and Rishi Sunak’s advice for workers in the music industry to retrain in new skills.

Last week, UK MP Gillian Keegan appeared on Sky News to clarify that workers in the live music industry won’t be covered by the Winter Economy Plan. She advised workers to “find and create new and better jobs”. This was confirmed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday who said those working in the arts may have to find new jobs. He told ITV News“I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job that they were doing at the beginning of this crisis.”

Following his interview with ITV News, Sherelle and Róisín Murphy were invited on BBC Newsnight to talk about the crisis that struggling artists and the live music sector is currently facing. Speaking to Emily Maitlis, Sherelle said the “last six months, for me, have been brutal mental health-wise”, and that Sunak’s news “really broke my heart”.

“The whole industry, live music, is in complete dire straights. It’s very stressful for us all,” she said.

“We’ve trained for so long to be in our jobs and we’re completely suffering… I’m on the self-employment scheme and I sometimes find myself struggling. I’ve got friends on Universal Credit and they’re unable to either choose the choice of paying rent or paying for food and basic amenities. I wish we were slightly like Germany in regards to the package that they helped their people receive in the creative industry, and unfortunately our government is not doing that.” She added that the UK government is “letting us down”.

On her situation, Róisín Murphy said, “The system that I’ve got in place can’t go on forever without live income. That’s really where the money comes in and that’s how I pay everyone who works with me.”

A petition calling for the UK government to extend its financial support for the music industry has gained over 100,000 signatures. Parliament will have to consider the petition for debate. A date is yet to be set.