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Six out of 10 musicians have experienced discrimination at work, survey claims

Musicians working in orchestras were included in the study Musicians responding to the survey work in various areas of the sector. Photo: Shutterstock
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More than half of respondents to a survey of professional musicians claim they have experienced some form of discrimination, including sexual harassment, during their career.

The survey, conducted by the Incorporated Society of Musicians, asked individuals working in various areas of the music sector about their experiences of discrimination in the workplace.

Among respondents, 59.6% said they had experienced some form of discrimination, with 63% of these people identifying that as sexual harassment.

In total, 16.4% of musicians answering the survey stated they worked in musical theatre. Other areas of work included education, small and large ensembles and session work.

The findings are part of an interim report by the Incorporated Society of Musicians, and are drawn from more than 250 responses to the survey, which will remain open indefinitely.

Most (72%) were self employed when they experienced discrimination, and while 97% answered a question on reporting their experiences, just 23% said they had done so.

Respondents identified a fear of losing work or not being believed as reasons for not reporting discrimination, while some said they considered the behaviour part of the culture.

Of those who took part, 63.9% identified as female, 20% as male and 0.8% as transgender, with 15% not disclosing their gender.

19% of respondents said they had experienced discrimination based on their gender and 11.8% said the behaviour directed at them amounted to bullying, including intimidation and verbal abuse.

As part of the report, the ISM calls for a change in the culture across the whole of the music sector, as well as “absolute clarity as to what acceptable behaviour is and what is not”.

“To ensure that all musicians understand what their rights and duties are, there needs to be comprehensive training and education. And we believe that all the above needs to be underpinned by a sector-wide code that is recognised by all who work in the music sector,” the report says.

The Royal Court recently published a code of behaviour for the theatre industry following allegations of harassment in the industry.

Royal Court to create industry-wide code to prevent sexual harassment in theatres

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