Plea by MPs for more support from government for creative arts

PUBLISHED: 10:49 19 June 2020 | UPDATED: 10:49 19 June 2020

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker in parliament. Picture: Parliament TV

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker in parliament. Picture: Parliament TV


MPs in Norfolk and Suffolk are calling for more support for the creative arts sector after a damning report suggested one in five jobs nationally could be lost due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Stephen Crocker, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal. Picture: Ella WilkinsonStephen Crocker, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

MPs have written to Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, following concerns raised by the New Anglia Culture Board, among others.

Since concerts and other shows were curtailed in mid-March, 1,605 performances have been cancelled across Norfolk and Suffolk, with just 700 of these re-scheduled.

It is projected that by the end of September, 19 venues together will have lost over £15m.

A report by the Creative Industries Federation also revealed that more that 400,000 jobs are set to be lost in the UK’s creative sector in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: ArchantMid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Archant

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In the letter, the MPs said that, if social distancing measures did not change, the situation would only worsen.

They added that the arts and culture played a vital role throughout the region, acting as community hubs, delivering wide-reaching programmes of engagement activities and playing an important role in tackling social isolation and preventing loneliness in two heavily rural counties.

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker said: “After reading the report and speaking with Stephen Crocker, the chief executive of the Theatre Royal, many of us were compelled to highlight just how important this situation was. Any further support we can provide for our important cultural venues will be truly welcome.”

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said: “Our creative arts sector isn’t just vital for our health and wellbeing as a society and a source of strengthening British values and culture, it’s also a massive global revenue business for the UK. We need to help support our brilliant local and national artists back to work.“

Mr Crocker, on behalf of the 19 venues, said: “More than 1m people pass through our doors every year and we collectively provide more than 500 full-time equivalent jobs. On behalf of our staff and our audiences, I would like to thank our MPs for recognising the very imminent risk to our future and lending their voices to our collective call for further support.”

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