This column appeared in the Friday 23rd April 2021 edition of the South London Press.
At the end of March, I was pleased to host an online meeting with representatives from the creative industries working in my Lewisham Deptford constituency. As many SLP readers will know, the area has a rich creative history and is home to many fantastic companies, venues and individuals.
The creative sector has been hit hard over the last year by the consequences of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Post-Brexit, one of the biggest stumbling blocks has been the difficulties performers are facing when trying to obtain work permits. My Labour colleagues and I are calling on the Government to deliver on its assurances that creative workers would not be subject to unnecessary barriers to work in Europe. The current situation will prevent many younger and newer British acts from touring in Europe, as well as stopping European acts from coming here. This will have a knock-on effect on our venues at a time when they are in huge need of support.
Turning to the sector’s recovery from the pandemic, it seems clear that the Tories are continuing to treat our world-renowned creative sector as an afterthought. We have known from the start that the performing arts sector would be one of the last to fully reopen. Social distancing requirements will continue to pose significant financial implications for businesses and people working within the creative industries. Unfortunately, there is a real fear that many skilled professionals may leave the creative industries if they cannot get back to work.
While I welcomed the Government’s much-touted £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund, it was too little too late for some venues, and many creative workers – particularly freelancers – will not benefit from it. Although the Budget made a small adjustment to support for the self-employed, there are still millions who have been unable to access financial help throughout the pandemic.
We of course discussed these difficulties (and more) during our meeting, but I felt that there was a lot of hope and enthusiasm for the future. As we start to emerge from the latest lockdown, I truly believe that the creative industries will prove vital to our long-term recovery from COVID-19.
As we rebuild our lives – not to mention the economy – we will need to prioritise wellbeing and I’m sure, like me, many of you will be keen to get back to enjoying live music, theatre, comedy, dance…you name it!
Our creative communities can play a huge part in this recovery and I have no doubt that the people who attended my meeting will be among them. I am hoping to hold another meeting in the future and will advertise it on my website (www.vickyfoxcroft.org.uk), but please also feel free to get in touch if you would be interested in attending.