Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Support Measures

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:01 pm on 8th October 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak 4:01 pm, 8th October 2020

At the latest count, about 500 people in my constituency had signed the parliamentary petition asking for support for the arts sector. People are deeply concerned about what is happening.

Before coronavirus, the UK’s creative sector was growing at five times the rate of the wider economy, employing more than 2 million people directly and contributing £111.7 billion to our economy, but the west midlands creative sector is now braced for the loss of 51,000 jobs in what the Creative Industries Federation has warned is a “cultural catastrophe”. The Musicians Union says that 65% of musicians are facing financial hardship and 34% are considering leaving the profession altogether. Maybe that is music to the Chancellor’s ears.

The winter economic plan does nothing to help those in the creative and night-time industries. There are 660 shuttered nightclubs and live entertainment venues across the west midlands. They are not receiving any help; as we have heard, most of the Government’s much-vaunted £1.57 billion culture recovery fund has yet to reach theatres, live venues and other organisations. I understand that the first tranche was due to be allocated on Monday, but it has now been delayed until 12 October. Many organisations are still waiting to hear whether their applications have been successful. They will be gone if they do not hear some good news soon.

In Birmingham, our 107-year-old Rep theatre began consulting on redundancies in July; 50% of the Hippodrome’s staff are facing redundancy; the Midlands Arts Centre theatre is closed and letting most of its staff go; Symphony Hall and the Town Hall are consulting on redundancies for half their staff; the Electric Cinema, the UK’s oldest working cinema, has had to get rid of all its staff and remains closed; and the NEC Group, which had revenues of £160 million before the pandemic, has seen them fall to zero and is consulting its 2,300 staff on job cuts.