Plea for Frome’s Cheese & Grain, self-employed musicians and other creative industries to be offered increased Covid crisis aid
Speaking in two separate House of Commons debates this week, David Warburton MP for Somerton and Frome called for the government to increase measures to support musicians and the creative industry during the Covid pandemic which has had a devastating effect on these sectors.
Citing music events such as Somerset’s Glastonbury Festival and the Cheese and Grain in Frome as huge contributors to the cultural, social and economic life of the region, David emphasized the urgent need for government to support these creative industries, many of which have suffered unprecedented financial hardship due to the Covid crisis. He proposed a Tourism and Social Resilience Fund to support to help those venues unable to access Income Support Scheme funding, and called for the urgent implementation of an empty-seat subsidy to help venues remain economically viable until audience number restrictions can be lifted.
David highlighted that Frome’s Cheese and Grain, a Social Enterprise, member-run, registered charity is now forced to consider making redundant of 40 out of the venue’s 53 staff due to the economic impact of the pandemic. David explained having been closed for eight months, independent venues such as The Cheese and Grain are now at high risk of being pushed into insolvency.
David urged the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) to work with the Treasury in providing schemes such as a Tourism and Social Resilience Fund, an empty-seat subsidy to allow venues to remain economically viable during the crisis, and called for an indicative date from the government as to when full re-opening would be permitted.
In addition, David highlighted the plight of self-employed musicians, one third of which are currently unable to access the Income Support Scheme due the unique way their industry is structured.
Calling on the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP to consider these measures, David explained, “If we don’t help these businesses, they really will go under, they will be devastated. I wrote to the Minister and suggested we have a Tourism and Social Resilience Fund with targeted support and grants to carry these businesses through the winter. I also proposed the Furlough Scheme should be extended for businesses unable to open.
“We must keep changing lives and supporting those whose business it is to change lives.”