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Help Musicians announces second phase of COVID-19 hardship funding

By | Published on Friday 29 May 2020

Help Musicians

Music charity Help Musicians has announced the second phase of its COVID-19 Financial Hardship Fund. It will now focus on a smaller number of musicians, after its early round of grants exhausted the initial money in the fund faster than expected.

In its first phase in March, the charity announced a £5 million fund offering one-off grants of £500 for musicians in the UK facing immediate financial difficulties due to losing work as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown. In the end, thanks to other organisations donating extra money, it handed out over £8 million to nearly 17,000 musicians in just four weeks.

The second phase is targeted at self-employed musicians who do not qualify for the UK government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme – which is possibly as many as 25% of all self-employed musicians – and other unemployed music-makers who are experiencing significant financial hardship.

This round of grants opens with a total pool of £2.55 million – £2 million drawn from Help Musicians’ own reserves, plus £500,000 from PPL and £50,000 from Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol’s Lightbody Foundation.

“Musicians have been hit brutally hard by the lockdown as the vast majority rely on income from performing, rehearsing, recording and teaching”, says Help Musicians chief exec James Ainscough. “And it looks like live music will be one of the last sectors of the economy to return to normal”.

“With the knowledge that so many musicians remain ineligible for government support, we have no option but to offer further financial help”, he goes on. “Our second phase of financial hardship funding is therefore targeted to help those who fall through the gaps of the government emergency safety nets and will support musicians for the next five months. We anticipate this fund will receive thousands of applications and are ready to process the high volume in the coming weeks”.

“We are grateful for the generosity and leadership from PPL and the Lightbody Foundation in helping us kickstart this work to support as many musicians as possible over the months ahead”, he adds. “We could only support the 16,700 musicians who applied in the first round thanks to the generous donations of many music industry corporates, trusts and music lovers. We are hopeful that even more can donate for this next round of vital hardship support”.

Grants will be available from the beginning of June to the end of October. Applications will open on 5 Jun – details of the applications process are still to be announced.