In the summer, Bristol usually buzzes with live music, full bars, vibrant festivals and creative events. This aspect of the city’s life has been completely shut down during the lockdown, transforming the city.
Together with Kerry McCarthy, Member of Parliament for Bristol East, I recently held an online public meeting with many of Bristol’s arts venues, concert spaces, festival organisers and artists, discussing how these people and organisations can be supported so Bristol’s cultural life can return once the lockdown ends.
Many people working in the arts, hospitality and events are facing extreme financial difficulties as the lockdown and social distancing measures look set to continue for some time. The meeting is an opportunity to discuss Bristol-wide solutions and put forward ideas to government.
When the lockdown ends, I want Bristol to return to its energetic and creative former self. But the venues and organisations need support. These companies and organisations have been built up over decades. They enrich us in so many ways. If they are lost, our city will lose a big part of its personality.
Live music puts more than a billion pounds into the UK economy every year, but the venues and organisations that make up this industry are facing an uncertain future. The furlough scheme and other support mechanisms are helping some, but there are many other people falling through the cracks.
The online event follows another roundtable hosted by Kerry and myself, exploring the concerns of Bristol’s biggest tourist attractions and arts organisations, to coincide with English Tourism Week. This event brought together Bristol’s museums, attractions, concert halls and sports venues with Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary, Jo Stevens.