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Covid-19: Live Music

Volume 685: debated on Thursday 10 December 2020

What steps he is taking to help the live music sector respond to the economic effect of the covid-19 outbreak. (910109)

In addition to more than £100 billion of general business support, our unprecedented investment of £1.57 billion in the culture recovery fund has seen more than £500 million handed out to organisations across England to date, a fifth of which has gone to the music sector. Those funds are providing valuable protection to live music venues and festivals, and to all the valuable jobs that rely on them.

I know the whole sector is very grateful for the support it has received from the Government, but if we are going to get music festivals and major events on again from the spring and summer, businesses need to be signing contracts and spending money now. Will the Minister give serious consideration to Government support for an indemnity or insurance scheme so that they can make those decisions in the confidence that, if there is a third wave, their losses will be mitigated?

I thank my right hon. Friend for that question. I am well aware of the concerns about and the challenges of securing insurance for live music events. It is something we are looking at very carefully, but the key is for the industry to build an evidence base that demonstrates that insurance coverage is the only barrier to events being able to take place. That is what we managed to prove with the film and TV production restart scheme. In the meantime, the remaining £258 million of the culture recovery fund will very shortly be made available to provide extra support.

On a similar theme, the UK is the world leader in music and arts festivals. The sector is worth £12 billion and supports many thousands of highly skilled jobs, as well as being the financial lifeblood of the nation’s musicians. However, there will be no festival season next year unless insurance is underwritten in case of covid disruption. First, will the Minister meet with me and MPs from across the House to see how that reinsurance can be put in place? Secondly, noting her answer to the previous question, does she recognise that with a minimum lead time of six months, the reinsurance needs to be in place now before the likes of Glastonbury can commit and, if it is not, those festivals effectively cannot be put in place? We need them to be able to sign those contracts today, rather than to wait several months and then have an insurance scheme in place.

I know this is something that my hon. Friend cares deeply about and that he met the Secretary of State recently to discuss it. Festivals are a vibrant and integral part of our creative community and our economy, and I am well aware that many will take decisions very soon about whether they can go ahead next year, so this is an urgent situation. There is a sub-group of my entertainment and events working group looking specifically at how we can get festivals reopened. I have met in the past few weeks with representatives from festivals in Edinburgh, and only yesterday with representatives from festivals on the Isle of Wight.