Manchester musicians hit out at Chancellor’s ‘insulting’ retraining comments

  • Manchester artists criticise government for suggesting people struggling should retrain
  • Arts industry has received £1.57bn boost
  • Musicians describe Chancellor's comments as 'insulting' and 'unbelievable'

Manchester musicians have hit out at the government for suggesting people left unemployed by the Covid-19 pandemic should retrain to find work.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told ITV News that while the government is trying to protect as many jobs as possible,  people who are struggling to get by should develop new skills.

He said: “Everyone is finding ways to adapt and adjust to the new reality and that is what [the government is] allowing to happen, as well as providing new opportunities for people.”

The Chancellor’s statement comes at a tough time for the struggling arts and culture industry, where a third of professional musicians are considering leaving the industry, according to a recent survey by the Musician’s Union.






A post shared by Izzie Walsh (@izziewalshmusic) on

Izzie Walsh, a freelance musician from Manchester, said the chancellor’s comments shocked her.

She said: “Personally, I thought it was a bit insulting to anybody that’s in music. I’ve dedicated my whole life to music, and it is a viable career.

“For him to say this is a ‘fresh, new opportunity’, after I worked for so many years and developing so many skills – it was quite unbelievable.”

group, men, trolley, sitting
The Vandalis, a Fallowfield-based band, also criticised the government for its lack of support for the arts industry

The Vandalis are a Fallowfield-based band who are also critical of the government initiative.

Lead singer Matthew Loreti said: “A lot of the support for bands, not just financially – but also for exposure, is small venues, which in turn haven’t been offered anything.

“If you take away the right to do our job, at least fund us while you are taking away that right.”

The Chancellor recently announced a £1.57bn rescue package for cultural, arts and heritage organisations.