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Tacet agreement?
MPs of all sides fail to mention the plight of brass bands in debate...

MPs from all parties recently had the opportunity to debate arts spending during the Coronavirus — but none managed to mention the challenges faced by any brass bands in their constituencies...



MPs recently spent time in general debate in the House of Commons considering the spending of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on support measures for DCMS sectors during and after the covid-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, brass bands looking for support from their parliamentary representatives in highlighting the hardship and threat posed to the movement’s current or future well being were left disappointed.

There was not a single mention. We were a tacet movement in their thoughts...

There was not a single mention. We were a tacet movement in their thoughts...

The two hour debate with its motion was moved by Julian Knight (Solihull) (Con) alongside co-sponsor, Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab), with the Deputy Speaker allowing at first, 5 minutes for each MP to speak.

This is a taster of what those who attended and choose to speak focussed on in their speeches...   

You can read the full Hansard transcript at:
https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-10-08/debates/4D1CBDF7-EC03-4509-90D0-C3214FAA33BE/DigitalCultureMediaAndSportSupportMeasures

The debate can be viewed at: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/0d08c5bb-04d0-4a34-b1d1-8efba0179f9c?in=14:36:54



Julian Knight (Solihull) (Con) alongside co-sponsor, Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab)

Mr Knight highlighted the challenges posed to media and broadcasting organisations, professional football clubs, arts and leisure, theatres and jobs in creative industry, and thanked the Government for the £1.57 billion support they had secured.     

He ended by saying, “…the people who work in these industries deserve our support. We simply cannot afford to out so many years of progress at risk.”

Make the case

Kevin Brennan followed and spoke of the 72% of freelancers in the music industry not covered by the self-employment income support scheme. He urged the DCMS Ministers “…to go back to the Chancellor and make the case again for our creative workforce.”

He also took issue with the Chancellor over his recent interview in which he implied “that those working in the sector should consider retraining and doing something else”.  

He also took issue with the Chancellor over his recent interview in which he implied “that those working in the sector should consider retraining and doing something else”.  

He added: “It is not surprising, on reading it, that musicians were so annoyed by what he said. The Chancellor can easily prove that that was not what he meant by putting in place the right kind of package to help get the creative workforce through this crisis. Deeds trump words in this case.”

Former composer and shinty

A number of MPs contributed to the debate, but not one mentioned the plight of the brass band movement or mentioned a single brass band that may have been in their constituencies.

David Warburton (Somerset & Frome) (Con) was a former musician, who he said “…tried to eke out a living as a composer in a former life” before becoming an MP.  

He said that like other Members he had, “…seen the hundreds of freelance musicians performing spectacularly in Parliament Square, knocking out a bit of Holst. Perhaps Members saw it on social media. It was moving stuff, and it absolutely highlighted their plight.”


David Warburton (Somerset & Frome) (Con) and Wendy Chamberlian (North East Fife) (Lib Dem) 

Ellie Reeves (Lewisham West & Penge) (Lab) highlighted the plight of a constituent freelance worker who had used all their savings since March and urged the government to “save creative jobs – viable jobs”.

She added: “That can be done so long as the political will exists among the Government’s culture team. Sadly, at the moment that seems lacking.”

She added: “That can be done so long as the political will exists among the Government’s culture team. Sadly, at the moment that seems lacking.”

Giles Watling (Clacton) (Con) highlighted the plight of the tourism industry and asked the DCMS to “divert funding” that “will help with their long term recovery”. 

He was followed by Wendy Chamberlian (North East Fife) (Lib Dem) who spoke of the shinty season as well as golf, and Steve Brine (Winchester) (Con) who said, “…our Government deserve great credit for the unprecedented support they have given companies, charities, workers and individuals in this sector during the pandemic.”

Scottish Showman's Guild and Evita

Simon Jupp (East Devon) (Con) spoke of the support given to tourism and rugby in his area – including the professional Exeter Chiefs who he said were losing £1 million a month, whilst Graham Morris (Easington) (Lab) chose to concentrate on jobs lost in newsrooms and regional media. 


David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP) and Nickie Aiken (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con)

Damian Hinds (East Hampshire (Con) said that there had been, “…an unprecedented Government response to genuinely unprecedented issues”, with David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP) highlighting the plight of the members of the Scottish Showman’s Guild.

Nickie Aiken (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con) spent the first part of her contribution regaling the House of her ambition to sing 'Don’t Cry for Me Argentina' and 'Evita' before paying tribute to the DCMS ministerial team who had been “outstanding during the crisis” with their “brilliant support schemes such as the furlough and VAT cut”.

Nickie Aiken (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con) spent the first part of her contribution regaling the House of her ambition to sing 'Don’t Cry for Me Argentina' and 'Evita' before paying tribute to the DCMS ministerial team who had been “outstanding during the crisis” with their “brilliant support schemes such as the furlough and VAT cut”.

Freelancers

Bambos Charalambous (Enfield, Southgate) (Lab) highlighted the plight of a number of freelancers, and that “65% are facing financial hardship now; 36% do not have any work at all; and 34% are considering abandoning their career in music.” 

Karen Bradley (Staffordshire Moorlands) (Con) and a former Secretary of State for DCMS said, “…if global Britain is anything, it is our creative industries”, before mentioning the issues surrounding Alton Towers amusement park and her “beloved Manchester City” – before adding “…we must also get support  for freelancers and sole traders.”

Challenge and plight

Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab) said that the Coronavirus pandemic was, “…a challenge that the government are not meeting at present”, whilst Craig Williams (Montgomeryshire) (Con) mentioned the plight of Theatre Hafren and broadband, “which seems to have been forgotten in this debate until now.”


Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab) and Craig Williams (Montgomeryshire) (Con)

Florence Eshalomi (Vauxhall) (Lab/Co-op) spoke of the plight of the “world famous London Philharmonic Orchestra” as well as independent community theatres. She also felt the government had “not acted quickly enough to help our freelancers who have fallen through the gaps.”

Reaching the people

Wera Hobhouse (Bath) (Lib Dem) spoke of the challenges faced by Bath’s Theatre Royal and freelancers in arts production services, whilst Greg Clarke (Tunbridge Wells) (Con) said he was worried that funding would “…not reach through the institutions to the people who are employed in the sector, especially those who operate on a freelance basis, whether they are actors or singers on the stage, performers in orchestras, or people such as directors, designers, choreographers and technicians.”
  
Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab) highlighted the troubles faced by some of the major arts attractions in the city – including Symphony Hall and Town Hall, who were “consulting on redundancies for half their staff”.

Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab) highlighted the troubles faced by some of the major arts attractions in the city – including Symphony Hall and Town Hall, who were “consulting on redundancies for half their staff”.

Horse racing and physical activity

Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con) concentrated on horse racing (Cheltenham racecourse is in his constituency),  with Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood) (Lab) leading on grass roots music venues but also mentioning that many musicians were now teaching via zoom instead of face to face.


Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con) and Ben Bradley (Mansfield) (Lab)

Angela Richardson (Guildford) (Con) hoped that measures could be introduced, “so that our performing arts can continue” as it brought communities together “in the way that our local sports teams or amateur dramatics do.”

Ben Bradley (Mansfield) (Lab) focussed his remarks on sport and physical activity in urging the government to “protect these vital community and grassroots sports facilities”, whilst Laura Farris (Newbury) (Con) spoke in support of the racing industry and the “ecosystem of photographers, hospitality and bookmakers.”

Dr Kieran Mullan (Crew and Nantwich) (Con) welcomed “that the Government have prioritised allowing local sports to continue” although he did mention the “tremendous asset” that was Crewe Lyceum Theatre.

Dr Kieran Mullan (Crew and Nantwich) (Con) welcomed “that the Government have prioritised allowing local sports to continue” although he did mention the “tremendous asset” that was Crewe Lyceum Theatre.

Football, football and Liam Gallagher...

Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con) concentrated on local coach companies, football and local tourism, whilst Shaun Bailey (West Bromwich West (Con) also highlighted local football.
 
Andy Carter (Warrington South) (Con) spoke of the need for support to media outlets, whilst Jonathan Gullis (Stoek on Trent North) (Con) was another MP that spotlighted football, tourism as well as what he called “silicon Stoke”.


Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con) and Jo Stevens (Cardiff Central) (Lab)

Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) (SNP) focussed on football as well as pantomime - mentioning the “musicians who would not be heard” and that “many freelancers and contractors have had absolutely nothing at all from this UK Government.” She also mentioned cinemas, museums and tourism and yet more football.

Jo Stevens (Cardiff Central) (Lab) concentrated on job losses at Cineworld and the National Trust, sport and tourism before quoting Liam Gallagher that “this country would be nothing without its sports, its music, its TV and its art”.

The Parliamentary under Secretary of State Matt Warman drew the debate to a close and said that “This Government are here for culture, here for the arts and here for sport, and we will continue to be so”, before adding that the help given was not “just about big names in London.”

Iwan Fox

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