Dame Caroline Dinenage, Member of Parliament for Gosport and former Minister of State for Digital & Culture, has urged the government to support grassroots venues to protect them against the impacts of cost-of-living pressures.
Grassroots music venues are vital to the development of strong creative industries. They give upcoming and aspiring music professionals the opportunity to gain experience of live performances and are a significant component of the night time economy.
Caroline also highlighted the role that a strong cultural sector has in boosting trade and soft power as our global superpower.
Grassroots music venues have faced significant challenges, with the Covid-19 pandemic preventing and limiting operation, and the cost-of-living increases has put pressure on music venues with increased costs and reduced revenue.
Caroline was Minister of State for Digital & Culture from February 2020-September 2021 and was responsible for securing the vital £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund in July 2020. The funding helped support cultural institutions, including grassroots music venues, to stay afloat through the pandemic.
Today, Caroline has called on the government to provide further support to grassroots venues to ease the impact of cost-of-living pressures, and to ensure that venues are able to survive.
In Questions to the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, Caroline said:
“Touring musicians from overseas and our home-grown talent need venues in which to perform. Yet so many of those brilliant grassroots music venues up and down the country are now really struggling.
“It’s so important because these are effectively the R&D department of our music industry, which is our global superpower.
“The Cultural Recovery Fund enabled so many of these venues to survive. How are we going to ensure that they aren’t destroyed by the cost-of-living crisis?”
The responding Minister, Julia Lopez, said:
“My Rt. Hon. Friend has a tremendous passion and expertise in this area. I know that she has recently, like I have, met with the Grassroots Music Venue organisation.
“I discussed with them a range of issues that face the sector including energy costs, including ticketing and various proposals that involve both government but also the private sector, and we’re exploring how we can help those critical grassroots music venues to survive.
“As she rightly recognises, they are absolutely vital to the development of talent in our wider music industry.”
Speaking afterwards, Caroline said:
“I am pleased that the Minister recognises the significant impact that grassroots music venues have as the engine room of our strong cultural sector.
“After all, our creative industries are a vital part of driving economic prosperity locally, nationally and internationally.
“I look forward to following this issue to see the Minister make progress on this.”