Covid-19: Cultural and Entertainment Sectors

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 2nd March 2021.

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Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Shadow Minister (Education) 6:15 pm, 2nd March 2021

In 2017, Hull was the city of culture, and that legacy and love of culture lives on. I have sorely missed the magic of a live music event, with the buzz from being in a crowded room and listening to a band I love. Surely, we all just love a good night out, and culture brings that colour to our lives. As the revolutionary change to the way we work takes hold and more businesses realise that remote working means they are not tied to any geographical area, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle will have a bright and bold future. Many people will learn what I already know, which is that not only is the cost of living low, with really friendly people and full-fibre broadband, but the city is culturally rich and vibrant. Living here really does mean you can have your cake and eat it.

Hull is home to the Adelphi, which is an iconic music venue that supports new and upcoming talent, often having offered huge names their first chance to perform. In Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, there is the Polar Bear, which has been saved, thanks to a crowdfunding campaign, and the Welly and O’Rileys, which have hosted bands such as Oasis, Pulp and U2. The constituency also contains the recently opened 3,500-seat Bonus arena and conference centre. We really are one of the country’s best kept secrets.

While the £1.57 billion support package for the arts was welcome, it seemed to focus too much on saving buildings and not enough on saving jobs. We need a plan to support live music. Locally, fundraisers are already happening, and I would urge Members to go and look at the iconic limited edition print that the charity Adelphi is offering right now.

We do not just have live music here. A few weeks ago, I introduced Parliament to the two loggerhead rescue turtles, Sensa and Mabouche, which have found their forever home at The Deep. I did this to highlight the problems that The Deep is having in accessing the zoo recovery fund. We want this fund to require organisations to demonstrate the financial impact of covid on their incomes, rather than, as at the moment, having to be on the verge of running out of reserves before they can get access to it. Sadly, The Deep will be one of the last things to reopen, but, as we found out, the daily animal care costs £5,500. I hope the Chancellor will offer something to important zoos and aquariums such as The Deep.

I cannot talk about culture without very quickly talking about pubs because, let us be honest, on a night out they are often where we start and often where we end up as well, and they are a quintessential part of British culture. Landlords have spent a fortune making their pubs covid-secure and they have done everything they have been asked to do, and now they need something back. They need the VAT cut, business rate holiday and furlough to continue. In my last few seconds, let me make my most important point: when this lockdown ends, please get it right and do not put us back into another lockdown again.