Covid-19: Cultural and Entertainment Sectors

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:41 pm on 2nd March 2021.

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Photo of Peter Gibson Peter Gibson Conservative, Darlington 5:41 pm, 2nd March 2021

It is a privilege to follow Tracy Brabin.

Darlington is the birthplace of the railways, and, as I have highlighted to the House on many occasions, we are the historic home of Locomotion No. 1 and the location of the world heritage site at Skerne Bridge, the oldest surviving railway bridge in the world, both of which have featured on our nation’s £5 notes. The Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway have received £35,000 of culture recovery funds and the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, which builds new steam trains, has received over £150,000.

Darlington is not just about trains, however. Our heritage goes beyond the steel in our railways and the bricks in our stunning Victorian town centre. Today, Darlington is home to a vibrant community of artistic excellence at sites such as the Forum Music Centre and the Hippodrome, which received £106,000 and £1 million respectively from the culture recovery fund, and the town has recently been awarded its second purple flag for 2021. Sadly, these sites have been among the worst affected over the past year, with extended periods of closure since last March.

I am proud of the decision taken by the Government to protect Darlington’s cultural sector and the jobs that it provides to my constituents. Through the coronavirus job retention stream, the kickstart scheme and the self-employment income support scheme, thousands of jobs and livelihoods have been protected, and Government-guaranteed business loans, lockdown grants and discretionary grants have supported many businesses in the entertainment sector. Right across the country, the Government’s exceptional £1.57 billion culture recovery fund has supported our much loved cultural sector. More than 3,000 organisations across the country have benefited from access to the fund, supporting more than 70,000 jobs nationwide, with many more freelancers and jobs in the supply chain industries also benefiting.

Last week, our culture sector listened intently as the Prime Minister announced our road map out of lockdown. I welcome the provisions in the road map that will unlock our culture and entertainment sector, and I look forward to seeing our cinemas, museums and theatres opening right across Darlington from 17 May. I look forward to visiting the Head of Steam Museum, attending events at the Hippodrome or taking in some live music. It is thanks to the hard work of those in the culture sector and the work of the DCMS team to support them that we can look forward in this way.