The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has tonight (9 July) issued a press release and new guidance for people who work in performing arts, including arts organisations, venue operators and participants. This guidance includes a change which has significant ramifications for Brass Bands England (BBE) member bands, which will prevent even small groups from gathering to play with immediate effect.
Contrary to advice received previously, the guidance states: “Non-professionals should currently not engage in singing or playing wind and brass instruments with other people given these activities pose a potentially higher risk of transmission and whilst research is ongoing. DCMS has commissioned further scientific studies to be carried out to develop robust scientific data for these activities. Existing and emerging evidence will be analysed to assist the development of policy and guidelines.”
In a statement given directly to BBE, a representative of the DCMS said: “All Government guidance is continually updated in line with the latest public health advice. We completely appreciate how keen people are to get back to performing together and as you may have seen we are funding a study into the risks around brass instruments, but for the moment playing brass instruments, especially in groups, are considered higher risk activities because of the potential for aerosol production and therefore should not be conducted by groups of non-professionals at this stage.”
Within the press release, the DCMS said: “The Secretary of State has also commissioned a scientific study on the risks associated with singing and brass instruments which will be done in partnership with Public Health England, professional musicians from the Royal Opera House and the BBC, and scientists from Imperial College, London and Bristol University. This will help inform our work on getting the performing arts fully back up and running safely, by testing what can be done safely.”
Within the guidance, the DCMS also states: “Singing and playing wind and brass instruments, especially in groups, are considered higher risk activities because of the potential for aerosol production and the absence presently of developed scientific analysis to assess this specific risk. The evidence is being developed rapidly. This section sets out the additional risk mitigation appropriate to the initial phase of returning to singing and playing wind and brass instruments.”
BBE is continuing to work with partners in both the public and private sectors on developing the scientific evidential base in order for policy makers to properly assess the risks of playing brass and develop policy in the future.
Notes on this advice
Please note this advice supersedes all advice given previously, including that approved by DCMS and Public Health England.
The new guidance from the DCMS can be found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/performing-arts
It should be noted by BBE members in Scotland and Wales that regulations there differ from those in place in England. These should be observed carefully depending on the part of the UK in which those organisations are based.
BBE is maintaining contact with, and taking advice from, Arts Council England, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and Public Health England to continue to update the brass band sector and ensure that brass banding activity can be restarted in a way to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
While we hope that bands are still continuing to maintain robust finances and personnel, for those that may be struggling, we recently launched a fund to support organisations with specific problems relating to finance. If you require assistance then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to apply to the Brass Band Emergency Fund.
To discuss any queries or concerns relating to banding activity during the COVID-19 Pandemic, please call the Brass Bands England office on 01226 771015 or email email@example.com