Analysis December 2022: A safe space for musicians?

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As the UK government holds an inquiry into misogyny in music, the Musicians’ Union calls for further action to safeguard female players.

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With the UK music sector having fully returned to work following the lifting of Covid restrictions earlier this year, concerns are again being raised at the level of sexism and sexual harassment in the industry. Musicians’ Union (MU) general secretary Naomi Pohl says that in recent months there has been a disturbing increase in reports to the MU’s Safe Space scheme, an anonymous online reporting tool for musicians who have experienced or witnessed instances of sexism or sexual harassment. This comes as a UK parliamentary inquiry, Misogyny in Music, launched in June 2022 by the House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee, is collecting evidence from organisations and voices in the music industry, with a view to making recommendations to policy makers.

The report (PDF: released in September by the Independent Society of Musicians (ISM), highlighted the extent and seriousness of the issue. Based on a survey of 660 self-selecting respondents, the report found that 66 per cent experienced some form of discrimination, with 78 per cent of the reported discrimination committed against women, and 58 per cent of discrimination identified as sexual harassment. Anonymised accounts given to the ISM included quotes such as: ‘I had section leaders refuse to shake my hand because I was a woman,’ and ‘Orchestra conductor said he wanted to kiss me and when I refused, he did not rebook me.’..

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