First ever census launches to help support and represent musicians in the UK

First ever census launches to help support and represent musicians in the UK

Help Musicians and the Musicians’ Union has launched the first ever Musicians’ Census.

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 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?n impact on the UK’s musicians with 49% saying they are ?‘very’ or ?‘extremely’ concerned they will be forced to leave the industry.  

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. This information will help organisations plan how best to represent, advocate for and support musicians in future years.

Naomi Pohl (pictured), 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. 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 [need] 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.”

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.”

To take part in the 10-minute census, click here.

Industry leaders and notable musicians, including Charisse Beaumont from Black Lives in Music and Maxine Kwok at the London Symphony Orchestra, are encouraging all musicians to get involved and take the Census.

Charisse Beaumont, chief executive, Black Lives in Music, said: “Data isn’t about numbers, but it is about understanding big truths and developing actions in a more meaningful way. I'm encouraged that Help Musicians and The Musicians’ Union are conducting the Musicians’ Census. Now there can be acknowledgement of the experiences of Black, Asian and ethnically diverse musicians and organisations can work to help meet their needs. Never has there been a more crucial time to truly help all musicians working in the music industry.” 

Maxine Kwok, violinist and Board Member at London Symphony Orchestra, added: “Improvement can only happen through a greater understanding, which is why I’m really pleased to hear about the Musicians’ Census. Whilst we work under the umbrella of ‘musicians’, we are individuals, and this census will allow us to finally delve into that. 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.”


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