TW: Sexual harrassment
Help Musician’s are opening a new helpline specifically for bullying and harassment which will be launched in March. The helpline will provide emotional support, guidance on how to raise the issues, as well as giving advice regarding rights and avenues for formal action. It will also produce anonymous data that the music industry can use to create positive change for all.
The line, although launched by Help Musicians, will be run by a third party independent organisation - and will be collecting anonymous data on the stats.
Help Musicians’ CEO James Ainscough said “Bullying and harassment is an industry-wide challenge that requires a collaborative response. The creation of the helpline is a vital first step and Help Musicians is well placed to provide this service, as an independent charity. But this is only one part of the solution, and we look forward to seeing industry-wide standards and culture change that eventually leads to our service becoming redundant”.
Our founder, Vanessa Threadgold, said “Help Musicians stance echoes our sentiment, we started Cactus City Studio as a response to a need within the industry to provide safer working spaces, however, we always say we wish there wasn’t a need for us to exist. Help Musicians is the charity we chose as our asset locked body as a Community Interest Corporation. We know the work they do is vital to the music industry and we are grateful to the support they continue to provide to musicians and those in the wider industry.”
A recent survey by the Musician’s Union revealed that 48% of musicians have been sexually harassed at work, with 85% not reporting the crime. The survey led to the MU launching a confidential reporting tool, Safe Space. You can find a list of other tools and organisations which may be of help on our resources page.
In a piece written for PRS Magazine, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin called on the music industry to lead the way in tackling harassment. We are speaking to organisations to help shape change and push for better support for all those impacted. Cactus City Studio is working alongside organisations such as UK Music to drive this movement forward. We are dedicated to help shape change and push for better support for all those impacted.
It’s a big ask. The organisations who provide this valuable support in the wider community and across society are chronically unfunded. Often this underfunding means there are long waiting lists, and the support may be time limited. Modern and effective therapy methods, such as compassion based therapy, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing are not always available via the NHS or dedicated services. Opening up access to these types of methods is key to giving people back their voice.
Asking the music industry to lead this change is not asking for not only a complete 180 on the status quo, but what we are asking is for the industry to lead the change for the wider community too. In addition to this, we are asking the music industry to help shape societal perspective to one of belief and not judgement when people come forward with their stories of abuse. We need to dispel myths around the numbers of false reports, and people’s perception that victims come forward for financial gain.
However, we believe music has always been at the forefront of great changes in culture throughout the course of modern history, and the momentum is growing, not waning. We are asking all those within the industry to actively do their part to make changes. If you are a supporter you must take action where you feel safe and supported to do so. You can do this a number of ways, by pledging to create safer spaces, adopting better practices such as our Charter of Good Practice.
What Can We Do Next?
The industry as a collective has some great resources for people working within the music industry. However, most are short-term support. For those that have had life-changing experiences, short-term support is not always enough. There are many reasons why people may not report sexual harassment such as fear of losing their job and the lack of long-term support, or fear of not being believed.
The next steps to take are to create holistic solutions, encompassing mental health support, financial support, career support, which is not time barred and also moves at a pace which is reasonable for the individual. We also need more supportive working environments and more investment into education. We have helplines and reporting tools, but next we need long-term support for those who need it. Having more aftercare will help to keep people, especially women in the music industry, at helping the longevity of people’s careers, but more importantly means that the emotional needs of people working in the music industry are being met.