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Advice for Members in Response to Closure of West End and Regional Theatres

Now that the government are advising against mass gatherings of people, UK Theatre and SOLT have taken the decision to close venues across the UK.

Photograph of audience of theatre goers watching a play.
We are dealing with either the closure or suspension of productions in most cases. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Members should read the following advice on notice pay and, in the West End, the possibility of redundancy payments for musicians on long-running productions. Further guidance is available on our Coronavirus Advice Hub.

Advice for musicians working in theatres

Now that the government are advising against mass gatherings of people, we are dealing with either the closure or suspension of productions in most cases. This applies to the West End and touring theatre.

It appears that insurers of theatrical productions are unlikely to cover members' losses when circumstances outside the producer's control force a closure.

The minimum amount of notice pay due to musicians contracted under the SOLT or UK Theatre in the case of a show closing is two weeks. However, circumstances may vary according to the musicians' length of service.

Crucially, many producers are likely to want to avoid closing shows down permanently if there is the possibility of reopening in a few weeks or months.

Naturally, we would like to preserve the engagement of musicians in the West End and on tour where at all possible and will be working closely with SOLT and UK Theatre to find a way of enabling this to happen.

We know our members are concerned about the likely loss of income and we will update this advice as soon as we can. We will also be in touch with members affected directly in the next few days to advise them in more detail. Please bear with us.

An unprecedented crisis

Naomi Pohl, Deputy General Secretary of the MU, commented:

"We have over 300 musicians working in the West End who are facing the prospect of weeks or months without paid work as a result of this decision. Hundreds more are engaged on touring productions.

“This is an unprecedented crisis for musicians and we are unfortunately likely to see many more shows, festivals, gigs and concerts cancelled in the coming weeks.”

Safety and welfare is of paramount importance

Dave Webster, National Organiser Live Performance at the MU, added:

“The safety and welfare of our members is of paramount importance and we appreciate the need to postpone or cancel events involving large numbers of people.

“However, our members are now facing significant reductions in their income and we are deeply concerned about the impact on their finances, career prospects and mental health.

“We are calling on government to put in place measures to support our self-employed members while they are out of work through a combination of sick pay, benefits and income replacement."

Take action now!

Email your MP using Write to Them.

If you’re not sure what to say, here is something to get you started:

Please ask the Prime Minister to extend sick pay from day one to low paid, zero hours AND freelance workers affected by or in self isolation due to coronavirus.

I also ask that you contact the Musicians’ Union’s Head of Government Relations Isabelle Gutierrez at isabelle.gutierrez@theMU.org for more about the challenges COVID-19 is presenting me and other freelancers, and what else you can do to support us.

Remember to explain how it will affect you as an individual – personal stories always make the case stronger.


Published: 16/03/2020

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