Today, I have written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport about the appalling way amateur choirs and singing groups have been treated in recent months.
I was very alarmed to hear that professional choirs are permitted to rehearse but amateurs are not. This seems absurd given the risk level is surely equal for both. So, I have asked the Secretary of State to explain this decision.
I have also urged the Secretary of State would to consider carefully the joint letter from Making Music UK, the Association of British Choral Directors and other groups which asks the government to “allow organised indoor amateur choir activity in line with guidance for other non-professional music activity & sports with immediate effect”.
The guidance in recent weeks, as other recreational activities have reopened, has been non existent. Making Music UK has said regarding safety that “nothing new has emerged” since a statement from the DCMS Secretary in August 2020 stating that there are “no heightened risks associated” with singing and playing music.
Given this breakdown in communication, it is vital that the government now provides a clear path for how these groups will be able to start to operate again.
It is vital that choirs and singing groups are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel here as these groups are proven to do huge amounts to improve their members mental health and wellbeing after an incredibly tough year for everyone.
As my colleague the Shadow DCMS Secretary has said “Singing also makes a positive difference to the health of over 2 million people who sing in amateur choirs.”
The Shadow Secretary also said that the “go-ahead was given for indoor rehearsals from Monday of this week, following step 3 of the roadmap, but on Tuesday, literally as conductors were on their way to rehearsals, late guidance was issued by DCMS limiting indoor rehearsals to just six people in total” and described the news as “devastating” to choir members, conductors and directors.
It is vital that the government now provides clarity for these groups to make up for the unacceptable confusion.