It is good news, if it is true, that there will be £400 million more for the creative industries in the Budget. Most of the funding, of course, will be going to the culture recovery fund, which is overdue, as the period that the fund was supposed to help organisations has stretched considerably. However, I particularly welcome new funding for community cultural projects, as local creative groups are often incubators of talent that go on to be world-beating creators of content, but of course the devil is in the detail.
After speaking to friends in the sector, there are a couple of points I would like to raise for the Minister to answer. Will this extra money mean that there will be a hike in VAT before the sector can get back on its feet? Will this money be recouped from local authorities, which have already had their budgets cruelly cut? They are some of the biggest providers of culture in our communities. Also, insurance is particularly important for our festivals and touring shows. Glastonbury has already said that it is unable to take the risk, and Download will not be back until 2022 because of the pandemic. Now that there is a “not before” date in place for festivals, insurance is the last stumbling block for organisers.
Dance, drama and music students have had their training cruelly interrupted. They have no chance to work together in ensembles or to put on a play. These students, the new talent, have been poorly served, with some drama schools shrugging their shoulders and saying there is nothing more they can do, but with the students still being forced to pay the eye-watering cost of their training. Can the Minister tell us whether any work is under way with colleagues in the Department for Education to support bringing this future generation through? This is being particularly keenly felt by working-class students, who could fall by the wayside without the high-quality and thorough training offered by our country’s exceptional conservatoires. The playwright James Graham commented after the Golden Globes:
Talent does not just arrive; it has to be grown. The ecosystem of the arts must nurture diverse voices, and if the Government want to level up the country, I would like to know where the plan is to ensure that those traditionally further from opportunity get support and training. We have also heard about the workforce, and I will not go into that again, but if the speculation is true that a rise in national insurance for the self-employed is imminent when so many have not had a penny of support, that is a step that will feel particularly cruel. Finally, can the Minister give us an update on the creative passport arrangements that will support our tourism sector so that it goes on to flourish?