I wanted to take part in this debate because I know how difficult things have been for the events and entertainment sector in my constituency. It is not possible in the time that I have to cover every single business and venue that has been affected. Needless to say I know that there are many, so I will focus my remarks on a few examples.
First, I have two nightclubs in my constituency, Nakatcha and The Studio. Nightclubs are not always the most popular venues with everybody in small towns but, as many of us have come to recognise, building the best possible future for our towns means that they have to be places in which young people want to live. Having a night-time offer that appeals to them is important and nightclubs are a big part of that. They also tend to employ a younger workforce, which we know is most at risk as we come out of the pandemic.
I thank the owners of those two venues for the responsible way in which they behaved during the first lockdown. They took the decision not to open before being told to close: there surely cannot be a better example of business leaders acting responsibly and thinking about their communities. I will never forget that, and I want everyone else in Crewe and Nantwich to know about it. They have not been able to operate as nightclubs since. The whole way through lockdown they have done a great job of lifting people’s spirits on social media, operating as first-rate meme factories on Facebook. They are looking forward to reopening in June if everything goes to plan. Will the Minister confirm that nightclubs will have access to the £5 billion reopening fund so that they can successfully roar back into action?
The other key venue that has been impacted is the Crewe Lyceum Theatre. It was supported by the £1.75 billion culture fund, which has been a lifeline for those at the theatre and I know how grateful they are. I thank the Government for their help, but we must ensure that the theatre can straddle the transition to reopening when it comes to the unwinding of furlough and the reintroduction of business rates.
My constituency is also lucky to have big cultural events such as the Nantwich Food Festival and the jazz festival, but both have already had to take the incredibly difficult decision to cancel their 2021 editions. These hugely successful events bring visitors and money to the town and they are part of our community. It was fantastic to see the team of food festival volunteers running community lockdown awards, kindly sponsored by Applewood Independent. The festivals are good examples of events that may need help in terms of insurance as we tackle ongoing uncertainty when events need to plan far in advance to be delivered successfully.
All that highlights how important the events research programme will be to so many people, jobs and businesses. It is vital that the Government are relentless in ensuring that the programme is robust, is delivered to time and looks at the sector fairly in terms of the risk. Vaccines have provided a light at the end of the tunnel, which has been particularly long and dark for this sector. I hope that we can do everything we can to get it out the other side.