07/10/2020: UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin has welcomed support from the Government and MPs for the Covid-hit music industry.
Minister for Digital and Culture Caroline Dinenage told MPs yesterday (October 6th) the Government was “doing everything we can” to help the UK’s music industry and highlighted the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.
She went on to say: “Our world-beating cultural and creative industries are absolutely nothing without the people who work in them.”
Her comments came during a Westminster Hall debate titled The Contribution Of Theatres, Live Music Venues And Other Cultural Attractions To The Local Economy.
The debate happened as a 400-strong group of freelance musicians played outside Westminster in protest about the plight facing the thousands of self-employed workers in the industry as a result of the pandemic.
Pre-Covid, the UK music industry contributed £5.2 billion a year to the economy, sustained 190,000 jobs and generated exports of £2.7 billion a year.
Among the hardest hit during the shutdown have been the 72% in the sector who are self-employed – many of whom are not eligible for Government financial support.
Welcoming the cross-party support shown for the music industry during the debate, UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said:
“We’re incredibly grateful to Nickie Aiken for highlighting the existential challenges facing the music industry and for MPs from across the political spectrum for their support. It is welcome to hear the cross-party commitment to our sector and all those who work in it.
“Music and music venues are a vital part of the British economy, generating extra trade for a host of other businesses and bringing in thousands of visitors to town and city centres. When the music industry suffers, we all feel the impact.
“The industry is fighting to get back on its feet as soon as we can. However, we need more support to get through this pandemic so we can restart our vital contribution to local economies right across the UK.”
Among the MPs who contributed to the debate was Conservative MP, actor and DCMS Select Committee member Giles Watling who urged the Government to do more for freelancers in the industry.
He said: “I have to say something about freelancers, such as actors and musicians. We must ensure that they are protected, so I say to the Minister, ‘Look after the freelancers too’.”
Labour MP and fellow DCMS Select Committee member Kevin Brennan said: “The Government’s job is to provide a bridge to the future for what is a very viable creative sector.
“There is a bright future for it and for those who work in it. We need to acknowledge that and provide more support to enable it.”
Conservative MP and All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music chair David Warburton insisted it was not just large festivals like Glastonbury just outside his constituency that were struggling.
He explained: “This is not just about the big festivals, however; smaller venues are also affected. The Cheese & Grain in Frome is a member-owned social enterprise and registered charity that provides a huge boost to the cultural, economic and social life of Frome. It is now looking at making 40 of its 53 staff redundant and, having been closed for eight months, it may become insolvent.”
SNP MP Alison Thewliss outlined the problems facing many in her Glasgow Central constituency and stressed the importance of the music and the creative industries.
She said: “We need them to survive for all our health and wellbeing, and for the cultural joy that we draw from these things. The Government need to get their finger out to provide the extra support to see them through the winter.”
Shadow Minister for the Cultural Industries and Labour MP Tracy Brabin said: “We all want to see our venues get back to normality. We have heard today about their financial impact.
“We have also heard about the cultural hub of a community in terms of visitors, support for local restaurants, taxi firms, employment and our local economies more widely. During the summer months when restrictions were easing, we had a sense of positivity and excitement, but with local restrictions it is unfortunately unlikely that those activities will flourish.”
Conservative MP Nickie Aiken, whose Cities of London and Westminster constituency includes a host of music venues, secured the debate.
Concluding the debate, she said: “It is so vital that we continue to campaign to ensure that we can open our arts and culture venues as soon as it is safe to do so.”
UK Music has called on the Government to give more support to the music industry, which cannot break even on events because of Government restrictions on social distancing.
UK Music has urged Ministers to support a Covid insurance vehicle to give live performances cover against cancellation forced by the virus and to extend support to supply chain businesses in the music industry and freelancers.
It has also called for an extension of VAT and business rate reliefs, an extension to protection from eviction and for rent breaks for music spaces to be considered.
An official complete transcript of the debate can be found here.
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