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Music Studios

Volume 463: debated on Monday 23 July 2007

4. If he will discuss with ministerial colleagues increasing Government spending on music studios accessible to young people. (151098)

With my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, we have asked the former Live Music Forum chairman, Feargal Sharkey, to work with key music industry figures, local and regional government and other potential partners to explore what funding opportunities might exist to establish a network of music rehearsal and performance spaces across the country.

I am delighted to hear that announcement from the new Secretary of State. In Wrexham, the energy, enthusiasm and talent of young people has been harnessed excellently by Wrexham youth service and a studio has been opened. It is hugely successful, engaging young people and creating bands for the future. Of course, bands are one of the UK’s greatest exports. I am delighted that he has appointed Feargal Sharkey, who opened the Wrexham studio, to take that forward. Will he please encourage as many hon. Members as possible, from both sides of the House, to get involved with young people and to encourage the opening of studios in their constituencies?

I am very happy to do so, and I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for helping to bring the project to Wrexham, which will lead the way in rehearsal spaces and has shown the great advantage that they can have, both in giving young people something positive to do and, we hope, in creating successful bands in the future. We are looking forward to working with the music industry to ensure that more such spaces can be opened around the country and that they can provide technical and creative expertise to help the industry to grow.

First, I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his appointment. He may be aware that Luton Youth Music is quite wonderful, quite superb, with hundreds of young musicians playing music of all kinds. Nine days ago, the Luton Youth Jazz orchestra was judged to be the best youth jazz orchestra in the country at the national youth music festival in Birmingham. May I invite my right hon. Friend to visit Luton to talk to the young musicians and, indeed, the adults who service them to find out what facilities the young musicians would like?

How could I resist? We will ensure that we visit Luton, as well as potentially the constituency of every other Member who is in the House today, and I look forward to doing so and seeing whether Luton can be one of the places that successfully bids for one of those rehearsal spaces.