Cultural Attractions: Contribution to Local Economy — [Sir Charles Walker in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:42 pm on 6th October 2020.

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Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Labour, Cardiff West 2:42 pm, 6th October 2020

I congratulate Nickie Aiken on securing this debate, and I will also say how proud I am to see her leading the debate today. Not all hon. Members will know that I used to teach her at Radyr Comprehensive School in Cardiff. It is wonderful to see her leading our debate today and it is a privilege for me to participate in the debate with her. I am sorry that she ended up the way she did, Mr Walker. [Laughter.] It was despite my best efforts, but there we are.

I also congratulate Giles Watling who, like me, is a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, on his speech. As ever, he made his constituency sound like a wonderful place, although he was unable to establish, as the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster did with her constituency, that we can literally find heaven within it.

I always like to stress the importance of the value of the arts and culture in and of themselves, as well as their economic benefits. In and of themselves, they are valuable and we should encourage them. Nevertheless, it is important to note that places such as the Sherman theatre in Cardiff, which is in the constituency of my hon. Friend Jo Stevens, make a wonderful contribution—and an important economic contribution too. Cultural and creative industries contribute £10.8 billion a year to the UK economy and £2.8 billion in taxation, and they support over 360,000 jobs. This was also the fastest growing sector of the economy; we should not forget that.

In Cardiff, we have wonderful cultural facilities too. Recently, the Womanby Street campaign tried to protect our music venues—my hon. Friend Stephen Doughty was very much involved in that. We have the wonderful Millennium centre in Cardiff, which is also in my hon. Friend’s constituency, and the Chapter arts centre, a world-leading contemporary arts centre in my own constituency. All of these places are wonderful, but they have all been very badly affected by coronavirus and the lockdown.