Covid-19: Cultural and Entertainment Sectors

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:12 pm on 2nd March 2021.

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Photo of Andy Carter Andy Carter Conservative, Warrington South 6:12 pm, 2nd March 2021

It is a pleasure to follow Patrick Grady. I want to use the short time I have, first, to recognise the resilience, innovation and ingenuity that exists in the culture and entertainment sector. The sector has a key part to play in shaping society post pandemic. It is this sector that makes us feel good. It is a fast-growing sector and a key export driver. This is the sector where we find memorable experiences in our town centres and on our high streets.

I have heard from many who work in the arts in Warrington South—musicians, producers and camera operators—who have welcomed the Prime Minister’s road map to returning our world to some form of normality, but there is no denying that people who worked in the sector have been particularly badly hit. Some have been unable to access support schemes because they were freelance. So I acknowledge the efforts that the Government have gone to in order to get people back into work in the film and TV sector with the unique restart scheme. It has allowed TV production to begin again, including on British dramas such as “Peaky Blinders”, which is being filmed just down the road from me here.

The Government have also stepped in to support commercial radio and local newspapers with enhanced advertising campaigns. That sector saw massive drops in ad spending, so we must be cautious about the impact of the legislation on products high in fat, salt, and/or sugar and the pace at which that is implemented. I also ask the Minister to look at how the Government can support smaller independent media companies such as Warrington Worldwide and The Cheshire Times. Because they are not part of large media organisations, they have not seen the level of ad spend that others have benefited from.

As the chair of the all-party parliamentary media group, I have supported calls from across the sector for an advertising tax credit. Local communities benefit from a vibrant local media, and a vibrant local media can do wonders for a local economy. The culture recovery fund has made a huge difference to many organisations, including the Parr Hall and Pyramid Arts Centre in Warrington. This is a tough, challenging time, though, for the supply chain in that sector.

To conclude, for many young people—and I include you in this, Mr Deputy Speaker—the August bank holiday heralds Creamfields, one of the most important dance music festivals. We have welcomed thousands from across the UK to Warrington South in previous years. Creamfields benefits the hotels, the bars and the taxi businesses in my community, and I am glad to see that it is already a provisional sell-out.

I want, finally, to highlight to the Minister some of the smaller organisations and voluntary groups, such as the Lymm festival and St Margaret’s community foundation in Latchford, which have received £15,000 in funding to keep their doors open, and we have a range of assets being supported by the communities fund. The Budget is a crucial chance for the Government to continue their historic and world-leading investment in our culture and entertainment sector, and I am sure the Minister will join me in urging the Chancellor to do everything he can to continue to support this vital sector.