In Parliament recently, I spoke about the need to protect live music venues. Growing up in Sheffield in the 90s and 00s, I took having access to live music venues for granted and we had access to not just some of the best venues in the country but some of the best music as well.
These venues are the incubator of local talent but, in Sheffield and across the country, they are closing down. At the same time, arts and culture funding too often gravitates towards prestige and towards the capital, rather than flowing towards talent.
UK Music and other bodies like the Musicians Union have done really important work fighting to save threatened venues because they recognise this is the heart of a revival that must come.
I am really proud to sit on Sheffield City Region’s Music Board, set up by UK Music and our regional mayor, Dan Jarvis. It promotes work like that of Higher Rhythm, which delivers the ‘Breakthrough’ Artist Development Programme to intensively support six Yorkshire artists annually with a package of opportunities to help them, tangibly, progress their careers.
But we need to do more. We need to promote music in education across the city and the Combined Authority should look at the proposal to create 6 music education hubs across the region.
And no government can claim to be serious about Global Britain while cutting musicians, our greatest cultural export, off at the knee in the Brexit negotiations. A musicians’ passport would recognise the status of our musicians and the contribution they make to the UK.
These issues are not nice-to-haves. They are fundamental to our economy, our culture and tell the world everything about what it is to be British.