I agree that we cannot be closing these venues again, but do you know what, with the fantastic vaccination programme, I have every ambition that these doors will be open, these venues and these jobs will survive—and we will restore a bit of joy to people’s lives.
These venues are incredibly important. They enrich our lives and they nurture local talent. I have many fond, and perhaps hazy, memories of Ku Stockton, where I have listened to live music, and of the ARC, and I recommend its comedy club to anybody. Both have been battered by the pandemic, both have benefited from Government support and both cannot wait to reopen. The Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway have done tremendous work on preserving our heritage, and nothing will prevent them from celebrating 2025, the bicentenary of that very first passenger railway journey. They, too, have benefited from Government support and they cannot wait to get rolling. We need to make sure that when we are talking about supporting culture and the arts, we are talking about the little guys and we are talking about all four corners of our nation.
Secondly, we need to have a frank discussion about coronavirus, because it may be unlikely that we will ever be in a situation where the risk is zero. We need to have a discussion about how much risk we are collectively willing to take to get our lives back to normal. We need to have this conversation for our culture and entertainment sector, which cannot go on like this in perpetuity, but also for ourselves and our constituents. We need to have this debate not only to support this industry, but to bring some joy back into our lives as well.