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MPs unite to rebuild Northern Culture post-Covid

26th May 2021

A cross-party group of Northern MPs are uniting to champion culture in the North and drive the recovery and rebuilding of North’s arts and culture offering in the wake of the pandemic.

MPs from the Northern Culture All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) are conducting an Inquiry into ‘What Northern Culture needs to rebuild, rebalance and recover’. The group held its first evidence session on Access to Culture today with industry experts including Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director of Nations at the BBC; Syima Aslam, CEO at Bradford Literature Festival; Nick Grimshaw, Head of Partnerships at the Creative Industries Federation, and Kelly Allen, Executive Director for Social Justice, Curious Minds.

The evidence gathered from cultural organisations across the North will be used for a ‘State of the North’ report which will make recommendations to Government on what needs to be done to help Northern Culture rebalance and recover from the impact of the pandemic, including a ‘Post-Covid Action Plan’ to rebuild Northern Culture.

Julie Elliott MP, Co-Chair of the APPG, said: “The North is home to some of the UK’s most-loved cultural venues, and the creative industries in the North have been responsible for many of our most famous musicians, artists and actors. We have talent, diversity, innovation, creativity and enterprise in culture, but it is an industry that has undoubtedly been hit hard by the pandemic.

“We need investment in skills and opportunities to empower the next generation of creatives, and by working together with those at the heart of our cultural scene, we will ensure Northern voices are heard loud and clear in Westminster.”

James Daly MP, Co-Chair, said: “The North is a diverse region where culture is crucial to bringing together communities, whether that be in our large cities or small towns. We have a longstanding reputation for creativity and must not let the economic impact of the pandemic hinder future generations.

“Northern Culture needs a voice in parliament and the APPG is here to represent every single Northern theatre, museum, gallery, music or event space and ensure they have what they need to prosper in the wake of the pandemic.”

Speaking at the session Rhodri Talfan Davies reinforced the need to better reflect, represent, and serve all parts of the country, he said: “By 2027/28 the BBC plans to be spending an extra £700m cumulatively across the UK - generating an additional economic benefit of over £850 million. This will not only dramatically increase opportunities for jobs and training for younger people in the north, enabling them to pursue opportunities in culture close to home, but improve representation on and off screen.”

 Nick Grimshaw, Head of Partnerships at the Creative Industries Federation, said: “As it stands young people do not have the same opportunities in the North as their counterparts in London and the South East, with those inequalities being further widened by the pandemic, which has hit arts and culture hard.

“We must make sure that young people across the North can access the arts from a young age through experiences, teaching, careers advice and critically through paid opportunities into the sector. There is huge creative potential in the North and if we do not nurture our young people we will lose the next generation of diverse, innovative creative talent.

The Northern Culture (APPG) brings together MPs from across the region with a shared goal to level up spending, infrastructure and opportunities for culture in the North. It is working in partnership with Northumbria University to highlight the need to level-up investment to support cultural growth in Northern towns and cities.

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