Guidance for the performing arts in England - FAQs

This page supplements our government guidance page and relates only to the current performing arts guidance in place for England. For links to all the relevant government guidelines, for choirs of all ages and types, and for links to guidance for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, visit the government guidance page.

Revised guidance for the Performing Arts in England was published by the DCMS on 18 May to reflect changes at Step 3. Following the announcement that Step 4 will be delayed until 19 July, we have been told that the same guidance remains.

Whatever type of choir you lead, you are strongly recommended to read the guidance in full, which you can find here. There is specific guidance for non-professional activity, as well as professional activity.

Click here to go to our campaign page and see what we are doing to lobby for the current restrictions to be relaxed, for choirs to be able to plan for the future and for the latest campaign updates - and to see what you can do to help.

Performing Arts Guidance from 17 May

Read the full guidelines here.

Non-professional activity. Section 2.4

The guidance states:

'Non-professional activities are permitted indoors and outdoors, within the legal gathering limits.

Outdoors, people can take part in non-professional performing arts activities in a group of up to 30 people. Activities can take place with multiple permitted groups, provided the groups are kept separate throughout the activity, and the event is organised in line with the organised events guidance for local authorities.

Indoors, people can take part in non-professional performing arts activities in a group of up to 6 people, or as a group of 2 households/bubbles. Activities. Activities can take place with multiple permitted groups, provided the groups are kept separate throughout the activity, and the event is organised in line with the organised events guidance for local authorities.

However, non-professional singing indoors should only take place in a single group of up to 6 people.

Activities should be organised to allow for social distancing to be maintained.'

FAQs

These are some of the most common queries that we have had; there isn't always a definitive answer, but we hope that the information below is helpful to your planning and discussions for your particular choir. Every situation is different and choirs need to assess the risk according to their own individual circumstances. We'll add to the list regularly and amend information in light of any new developments.

6 singers or 6 people?

Your conductor and accompanist are there are professionals, for work purposes, so do not count as part of the 6.

The performing arts guidance, point 2.1, states:

'The legal gathering limits do not apply to people using the facility for work purposes (e.g. use by performing arts professionals for rehearsals, training, and performances for broadcast or recording purposes).'

Guidance v law

There has been much discussion and many queries about whether the DCMS guidance is enforceable in law. DCMS guidance is indeed guidance rather than law. The law is set down in The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021. The law does allow for groups to rehearse indoors in numbers greater than 6. Risk assessments and measures would have to be in place to ensure the total number was a safe number and the event was COVID-secure. It is the DCMS guidance for the sector that sets the limit on numbers at 6. However, any consideration of rehearsing in larger numbers should be undertaken with caution, with your risk assessment as the guiding factor (this should include keeping a regular check on the local infection rate). You should also check your insurance carefully - see the note below. Your rehearsal space may also be an issue: the guidance for community facilities includes reference to the guidance for singing and many venues are therefore not hiring to larger groups.

Definition of work

The reply from Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Digital and Culture at DCMS to the letter sent jointly by us and other music organisations about the current situation includes this statement: "Whilst it is for organisers and venues to determine how to operate in accordance with the relevant guidance and regulations, we would remind you that the limits do not apply to activity taking place for work or commercial activity."

The definition of 'work' and 'commercial' are not further defined and different choirs may take different views on what the definition of 'work' and 'commercial' are, depending on their particular circumstances. 'Work' could mean anyone there in a professional capacity. 'Commercial' doesn't necessarily mean profit making - it could be about the commercial sale of services or products, e.g. ticket sales. See below for the update about insurance for Making Music members.

Insurance (updated 10 June)

Making Music

If your choir is a member of Making Music and has insurance through them, please note that Making Music Insurance Services have said that if groups act against relevant guidance which applies to them, then in the event of a claim on their insurance policy, they would reject that claim.

However, after viewing the minister's letter and statement that "Whilst it is for organisers and venues to determine how to operate in accordance with the relevant guidance and regulations, we would remind you that the limits do not apply to activity taking place for work or commercial activity", the insurers have confirmed (10 June) that in their opinion a commercial activity would include ventures that involve ticket sales and where it is customary for fees to be charged for attending events and include rehearsals before said event(s)'.

This means that a choir meeting to rehearse towards, and performing in a concert which is or will be selling tickets, or rehearsing towards a performance for which it will be paid a fee, then this is commercial activity and permits it to meet indoors in numbers greater than 6 whilst still being covered by Making Music's insurance policy.

As abcd does not directly provide insurance, you are advised to check Making Music's website for further details on this, to discuss with your choir whether your activity falls into the right category and whether this is the right thing for you to be doing at present, but we are happy to support this confirmation.

ISM

ISM is currently seeking advice from its public liability insurance (PLI) brokers about the insurance position of ISM members if a group were to rehearse indoors in numbers greater than six on the grounds that it is work/commercial activity.

If you have insurance elsewhere, you may also wish to check the small print if you are considering rehearsing indoors in groups of more than 6 people.