Covid-19: Cultural and Entertainment Sectors

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:29 pm on 2nd March 2021.

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Photo of Richard Graham Richard Graham Conservative, Gloucester 5:29 pm, 2nd March 2021

It is a real treat to join this debate. I like what the American journalist Walter Lippmann said about culture:

“Culture is the name for what people are interested in”.

What are we most interested in? Of course, it will vary by generation, background, geography and many other things, but there is much that we all share, from our cinemas, trees, parks, hills and all of nature to our sports clubs, pubs, nightlife, churches, mosques, heritage and traditions. All are part of what we are interested in, and there is much more, of course, besides.

Not all those things fall under DCMS, but a lot of them do. When many such things have been out of reach for much if not all of the past year, and businesses responsible for the entertainment part of this debate—I think particularly of those involved in leisure, weddings and events—have not been able to open, we have to be grateful that the taxpayer has stepped in, via DCMS, to support so much of what should come back as quickly as possible.

I thank the Department for its work through the culture recovery fund, which has in my constituency of Gloucester provided resources to the Sherborne cinema, which is a great independent cinema; the Guildhall arts centre; the Music Works, which is part of the revival of musical culture in our city; the Three Choirs festival, which represents a great and long tradition of cathedral music; the city council itself; our cathedral, which is at the heart of so much of what happens in any cathedral city; the history festival, in respect of which I declare an interest as the founder and chairman; and St Mary de Crypt, where I am a patron. For all those things, I thank the Department.

I also thank the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which has played such a huge part in our city’s regeneration over the past decade, as has English Heritage through the heritage action zone project, which came into being before the pandemic but is being implemented now and is incredibly important. All these things matter collectively. I include things such as the green recovery fund, which comes from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs rather than DCMS and has supported the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, which is headquartered on Robinswood Hill, right in the middle of our city, and is an incredible feature.

I not only thank all those organisations but pay tribute to people such as my friend Justin who runs Butlers, the best nightclub in Gloucester, for all the work that he did on volunteering with food during the pandemic, and Mecca, which helped on that—lots of organisations have been pulling together. If culture is what we are interested in—