Covid-19: Cultural and Entertainment Sectors

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:04 pm on 2nd March 2021.

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Photo of Matt Vickers Matt Vickers Conservative, Stockton South 5:04 pm, 2nd March 2021

I think I speak for all of us when I say that the past year, despite some individual stories of good news, has been absolutely rotten; 2020 is not a year that any of us would wish to repeat. This is especially true for businesses in our economy, but the financial burden is not being shared across all sectors of the economy evenly, and those sectors that rely on people seeing each other face to face or being close to others—such as hospitality and, pertinently for this debate, culture and entertainment—have been particularly badly hit by measures introduced to break the chain of transmission.

As a result of the measures to protect the NHS, museums have closed their doors, live music venues have fallen quiet and sports arenas have stayed unnaturally empty. The cultural and entertainment sector is a massive asset to the UK both economically—it is an industry worth more than £10 billion—and as a major soft power attribute. More than that, these businesses and venues bring people joy and make life worth living. Recognising that, the Government have been great in introducing support packages, such as the culture recovery fund, which have benefited and been a lifeline to businesses and venues across the country and in my Stockton South constituency.

The Government have now set out their road map for easing restrictions for the entire economy. This will provide clarity to these businesses, allow them to plan for the months ahead and, hopefully, put them on a more sustainable footing. While I would be delighted if these opening dates were moved forwards, I know that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and his ministerial colleagues have been guided by the science and will open up as soon as it is safe to do so.

As we move forward and look towards reopening these businesses, there are two fundamental things we must remember. First, we need to remember more than just those businesses that are in London. A lot of the conversations focus on big venues in London and in the south, which is somewhat understandable given how much of the industry is concentrated in the capital, but not all of them are in London, and we need to remember the businesses in Stockton and the north-east as well.