Julian Knight's Westminster Diary, 21/03/19

Solihull Mail.

Live music plays a hugely important role in both our national life, and for a great many of us our individual lives too.

I’m sure that many of you, like me, still cherish the memories of at least a few truly outstanding gigs!

Meanwhile the United Kingdom is a pop powerhouse. British bands and artists have a global reputation, expanding our international reach and generating huge returns for our economy.

But none of this would be possible without a strong live music culture here at home. We need to maintain a diverse system of clubs and concert venues in order for new and up-and-coming artists to have a chance to make a name for themselves and earn a living – and for us to see them too.

That’s why Parliament’s own Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (‘DCMS’) Committee, on which I sit, has today published a new, in-depth report into some of the challenges facing this crucial sector and what the Government can do to help.

For example, we have urged ministers to extend business rates relief to live music venues, many of which have been adversely affected by recent re-evaluations.

We have also called on Arts Council England (ACE) to remedy the fact that, at present, it spends just 0.06 per cent of its budget supporting popular music.

It isn’t right that a few prestige arts should enjoy such a hugely disproportionate share of public support – which comes from ordinary taxpayers – whilst hundreds of thousands of music fans face the loss of cherished local venues which make music accessible in their communities.

More public support will also help to bring the UK into line with European countries, many of which offer substantial assistance to venues. We must ensure that Britain remains a world-class place to perform if we want to attract, let alone produce, world-class acts.

Finally, we have taken the unprecedented step of urging buyers to avoid the ticket resale site ‘Viagogo’. It has already been served a court order and faces further action from the Competition and Markets Authority, and in the meantime consumers should take care to protect themselves.

Originally published in the Solihull Mail, 21/03/19.