Tuesday, 16 February 2021
Under Pressure - Chancellor Rishi Sunak is under renewed pressure to provide greater financial security to the arts sector’s self-employed workforce in the forthcoming Budget, as the findings of a new inquiry warn of a talent exodus without support.
The Inquiry into the Future of Self-Employment has been carried out by Prospect – the parent union of BECTU – and calls on the chancellor to end “the exclusions from the government’s income support packages”, which have seen millions of self-employed and freelance workers fall through the gaps of existing financial support schemes.
As part of the inquiry’s research, a survey of more than 2,200 self-employed workers was carried out, of which 39% were trade union members.
BECTU head Philippa Childs gave evidence to the inquiry and said: "Workers in the creative industries have been left with little to no support from government schemes in the last year, resulting in a financial crisis for freelancers across the UK. I urge the chancellor to take on board the recommendations in this report, end the exclusion of millions of freelancers from government income support packages, and set out a new deal for freelancers and the self-employed for the future."
A Treasury spokesman said: "We’ve invested more than £280 billion throughout the pandemic to protect millions of jobs and businesses, and extended our self-employed and furlough schemes through to April so that people have certainty that help is in place. At the upcoming Budget we’ll outline the next stages of our plan for jobs to support businesses and families across the UK. That has been our priority throughout the past year and it will be the priority for the year to come.”
Face-to-Face - Industry bodies are calling on the government to allow face-to-face performing arts teaching to resume, warning that students are being unfairly disadvantaged by online learning because of the nature of their courses.
One Dance UK and the Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre – whose members include major drama schools – said it was a “matter of national interest” that the next generation of performing arts professionals should be supported to contribute to the creative industries’ recovery.
One Dance UK and CDMT are urging ministers to reconsider current policy and allow in-person teaching and rehearsals to return at the next higher-education review. This is due to be completed later this month.
The government has insisted that the majority of students should not return to universities, with current measures in place until at least March 8. Only a limited number of courses, such as medicine and teacher training, are able to continue in person. The Department for Education has promised to set out further details in a roadmap published in the week of February 22.
Roll Away The Stone - The Masked Singer finale was watched by an average audience of 8.6 million viewers, overnight figures show. That's the biggest live TV audience for any programme so far this year, outside of news and sport. The series culminated on Saturday with a pregnant Joss Stone, who had been cunningly disguised as Sausage, revealed as this year's winner.
The final attracted 2.2m more viewers than last year's, which saw Nicola Roberts from Girls Aloud triumph. Saturday's finale also more than doubled the audience of the first episode of this series. When asked why she decided to take part in the show, UK soul singer Stone said: "Why not? Life can be too serious. We should just dress up in chips and sausage and have a sing-song!"
In The Courts - Britney Spears' father has lost his bid to retain some of his rights over the singer's estate. Jamie Spears has controlled his daughter's finances and personal affairs since she was admitted to hospital in 2008, as part of a contentious legal agreement.
In November last year, the 39-year-old unsuccessfully tried to oust her father from the role - and the judge in that hearing named private wealth management firm the Bessemer Trust as a co-conservator instead. At the time, her lawyer had said she was scared of her father and would not resume her singing career while he had power over it. At a hearing in Los Angeles last week, Mr Spears lost a bid for the right to delegate investment powers for the estate, which was worth $60m (£43m) as of last year.
Farewell - Jazz pianist Chick Corea - who worked with the likes of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock during a career spanning five-decades - has died aged 79. A pioneer of jazz fusion and the fourth most nominated artist in Grammys history, the musician left a message for fans which he had written before his death. He wrote: "I want to thank all of those along my journey who have helped keep the music fires burning bright. It is my hope that those who have an inkling to play, write, perform or otherwise, do so. If not for yourself then for the rest of us. It's not only that the world needs more artists, it's also just a lot of fun."
16 February 2021