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Music industry hopes UK government’s levelling-up fund might benefit local music industries

By | Published on Thursday 26 November 2020

UK Music

UK Music has welcomed the so called levelling-up fund that has been announced by the UK government to support local development initiatives around England, with the cross sector music industry trade group hoping that that funding will benefit the creative sector.

The £4 billion levelling-up fund was announced by UK Chancellor Of The Exchequer Rishi Sunak yesterday as part of a speech on spending plans, and it’s basically part of the government’s commitment to support local economies outside London and the south east of England.

Any local area in England will be able to bid for up to £20 million to fund mainly infrastructure projects that improve the everyday lives of the local population. Examples given by Sunak include “a new bypass; upgraded railway stations; more libraries, museums, and galleries; and better high streets and town centres”.

That money could be spent on venues or other culture infrastructure, thus potentially benefiting local music communities. Although, of course, that’s not assured, and the scheme will involve competition between projects at both a local and national level.

Nevertheless, UK Music boss Jamie Njoku-Goodwin hopes the creative sector will benefit. “We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of a £4 billion levelling-up fund which we hope will be a much-needed boost for the creative sector”, he said yesterday. “We look forward to engaging with the government to explore how that fund can be used to ensure the music industry helps drive growth the country needs and that we all want to see”.

“Music and music venues are integral to the local economies of towns and cities everywhere”, he added. “We hope this fund could be used to further support the vital role they already play. With the right support to help the music industry get back on its feet, we are determined be at the forefront of the post-pandemic economic and cultural recovery”.

The CEO of the Incorporated Society Of Musicians, Deborah Annetts, also welcomed the fund and the potential support it may provide for arts and culture around England.

However, she expressed concern that culture infrastructure projects will have to compete with transport infrastructure projects for funding, rather than having specific support to grow local creative economies.

She said: “We are pleased that the levelling-up fund covers local arts and culture, but this social infrastructure is too important to be included in the same funding allocation as transport infrastructure. Without theatres and music venues, visitors are not staying in hotels, visiting bars or restaurants, and they are doing their Christmas shopping online”.

“The government should support the performance ecosystem in order to unlock public spending, create jobs and lift the national mood”, she added. “We need a clear roadmap now for the return of live performance in 2021. This is essential so that the industry has enough time to prepare and implement the necessary measures to resume safely next year”.