Luton South MP calls for action to protect Luton’s grassroots arts and culture

Rachel Hopkins - the Member of Parliament for Luton South - is holding an adjournment debate on grassroots arts and culture in Luton at the end of today’s parliamentary session.

Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 1:26 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 1:42 pm
Rachel Hopkins MP

Luton’s grassroots organisations, freelance workers and self-employed entrepreneurs in the arts and culture sector have all suffered during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Health restrictions have halted activity in the sector and many workers have not been applicable to receive support from the government. 

Ms Hopkins said: “It’s important that we shine a light on the valuable contribution of grassroots arts and culture to our community. The coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the sector, and immediate action is needed to safeguard the future of thousands of jobs and organisations.

"The government’s response has failed to protect Luton’s creative sector. Many local organisations are not eligible for the COVID-19 arts package, and some freelancers and the self-employed can’t access the job support packages."

Research commissioned by the Creative Industries Federation suggested that the UK creative sector was growing at five times the rate of the wider economy, employing over 2 million people and contributing £111 billion to the economy – more than the automotive, aerospace, life sciences and oil and gas industries combined. 

The same research projects that 122,000 permanent creative workers will be made redundant this year, including 42,000 jobs in the East of England.

It forecasts that that impact will be felt twice as hard by freelancers, as 287,000 roles are expected to be terminated in the UK in 2020. 

Ms Hopkins has described the government’s £1.57 billion COVID-19 arts package as "welcome" but insists it is targeted at buildings and institutions, which means it will fail to reach grassroots organisations, freelancers and self-employed entrepreneurs. 

The Luton South MP is calling for targeted support for Luton’s grassroots creatives and organisations to prevent rising unemployment.  

During the speech, Ms Hopkins plans to celebrate key contributors to Luton’s arts and cultural sector including Wardown Museum’s museum makers, People Power Passion programme, The Culture Trust’s Beacon, UK Centre for Carnival Arts, Tangled Feet, Next Generation Youth Theatre and the University of Bedfordshire.

Ms Hopkins added: "The UK needs to build back better after the pandemic, and grassroots arts and culture is a vehicle to developing community cohesion in diverse communities and tackling inequalities.

"I’m calling on the government to recognise the social value of Luton’s grassroots creative sector by providing urgent targeted support.”