City musicians urged to take part in first Musicians’ Census

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City musicians urged to take part in first Musicians’ Census
credit Unsplash

Musicians in the City of London are being urged to take part in the first Musicians’ Census, launched by the Help Musicians and the Musicians’ Union.

The project aims to both map the total population of musicians and build a picture of what musicians’ lives and careers look like to help develop a deeper understanding of the community within the City of London and the rest of the UK.

Recent research from Help Musicians has shown the cost-of-living crisis, ongoing impact of the pandemic and Brexit, amongst other factors, are all having a ​‘brutal’ impact on the UK’s musicians with close to half (49 percent) saying they are ​‘very’ or ​‘extremely’ concerned they will be forced to leave the industry, whilst a further 35 percent are ​‘slightly or ​‘somewhat’ worried they will have to.

Repeated every three to five years, the Musicians’ Census will allow organisations such as Help Musicians and the MU to monitor and respond to these challenges.

Data will be gathered on demography, diversity, health and wellbeing, and the breadth of working patterns and income. To ensure all musicians, and everyone working on behalf of musicians, can benefit from the project, key findings will be shared with partner charities and music industry bodies.

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Naomi Pohl, Musicians’ Union General Secretary, said: “The world has changed significantly in recent years – and with that, the landscape for musicians. But without quality data and representative insights, it’s difficult to understand what today’s musicians really need and how we can help.

“There are an estimated 37,000 musicians in the UK – over 32,000 of which being members of the Musicians’ Union. While we interact with musicians on a daily basis, but with the community spanning such a broad range of demographics and backgrounds, we know more can be done to understand the holistic picture.

“This is why we need the Musicians’ Census – to learn more about the community so we can build a better industry, one that’s inclusive, accessible and fair to all.

“We appreciate that the UK’s musicians are regularly asked to complete surveys by a number of organisations, particularly since the beginning of the pandemic. However, to enable us to make real positive change, we to hear what you want and how you feel. The census takes just minutes to complete; together we can make a difference; together we can bring about real social change.”

Local violinist and board member at the London Symphony Orchestra, Maxine Kwok, and other industry leaders are encouraging all musicians in the City of London to get involved and take the Census.

Kwok said: “Improvement can only happen through a greater understanding, which is why I’m really pleased to hear about the Musicians Census. It will help us recognise what’s going well for some and the challenges facing others so we can in turn create a better, more inclusive industry for the next generation. With insights comes understanding and it’s only if we understand the problem that we can make real, positive change.”

Sarah Woods, Deputy Chief Executive at Help Musicians, added: “At Help Musicians, we believe that musicians really count, and we have been working for over 100 years to make a meaningful difference to the lives of musicians across the UK. To date however, there has never been a comprehensive picture of the total population of musicians and without this insight we are unable to ensure our support is as impactful as it can be.

“With the Musicians’ Union, we developed this project to ensure that the future design of our services and support initiatives is truly built upon a detailed and factual understanding of the lives and careers of all those we seek to serve.

“Working collaboratively with others within the industry to track trends we will all better understand and shape a world where musicians can thrive in the decades to come.”

The Musicians’ Census officially launched on 16 January. To find out more and take part, please visit:

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