Covid-19: Cultural and Entertainment Sectors

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:47 pm on 2nd March 2021.

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Photo of Ben Everitt Ben Everitt Conservative, Milton Keynes North 5:47 pm, 2nd March 2021

If we are talking about live music in Lancashire, I am sure that my hon. Friends the Members for Bury South (Christian Wakeford) and for Hyndburn (Sara Britcliffe) would never forgive me if I did not take this opportunity to mention the Lancashire Hotpots, but it is Milton Keynes that concerns me most and, of course, Britain in general.

Britain is home to world-class cultural, arts and heritage organisations—in fact, world-leading ones; we do not say that enough—and Milton Keynes is no exception. With live music venues The Stables and Unit Nine, visitor experience attractions MK City Discovery Centre and Gulliver’s Land, and arts venues such as MK Theatre and MK Gallery, there is no shortage of fantastic venues that support incredible talent. I could spend the rest of the debate talking about their huge impact locally and further afield.

Venues in Milton Keynes cannot wait to throw open their doors again, and I am pleased that the road map has given much-needed clarity to all of us about when we will get there, but I know from the businesses that contact me that, despite that clear end in sight, many in the sector are worried that they just will not make it until the end of spring. I stood in this place only last week to call for councils to do more to release the Government funds that they have to support local businesses, and still, this afternoon, emails were coming into my office from businesses that have asked and asked about how they access these funds from the council and have been told to wait or to look elsewhere.

There is an end in sight. We all know that when those doors open again and the cultural and entertainment venues are back in business and part of the vibe that we have in Milton Keynes and in Britain, that will be the downhill journey on this great mountain of covid. The Government have released billions in funding through the culture recovery fund and billions more in the additional restrictions grant. The sector should now be given the confidence it needs, with councils releasing the funds that are desperately required for venues to reopen safely later in the spring. With the right financial support in place, with a concise and clear road map guided by the data, and with everyone doing their bit in keeping cases down, we can be confident that the cultural and entertainment sectors can bounce back stronger than ever.