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Musicians’ Union launches hardship fund for cash-strapped members

The UK’s Musicians’ Union (MU) has launched a £1m (€1.08m/$1.17m) hardship fund to assist members who have been hit by the widespread cancellation of work due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The London-based organisation, which represents over 32,000 musicians working right across the music industry, said the fund is open to members with “genuine and pressing hardship”, subject to certain conditions.

These include that applicants must have held continuous membership for a year or more, be currently paying the full MU membership subscription rate and be a UK resident. The MU stressed that applicants must be “suffering genuine hardship” from loss of work due to the Coronavirus pandemic and have not already successfully received a payment from the MU Coronavirus Hardship Fund.

The MU estimates that 90% of its members have been impacted by COVID-19, which has cut a swathe across the live entertainment industry. It added that these members will have lost out on around £14m in income.

The MU said: “It must be emphasised that this is a hardship fund and not a fee replacement fund. The fund will not stretch very far if members who have lost bookings but are not in dire need of financial help all apply. Please, act responsibly and have consideration for your colleagues who are suffering extreme and immediate financial hardship.”

Initially, individual grants will be restricted to a maximum of £200 while MU monitors the level of applications. The Union added that once the £1m limit is hit, it will endeavour to obtain donations from external sources in order to extend the operation of the fund, but said this cannot be guaranteed.

In other news, the MU is one of a number of organisations that has helped to create a new website designed to help musicians. CoronaMusicians.info has been designed to provide one easy-to-use place where musicians can find help, advice and signposting they need to support them through the outbreak.

Along with the MU, the website has been launched following talks between Help Musicians, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, the Ivors Academy, the Music Managers Forum, the Music Producers Guild and UK Music.