Over the last year, I’ve been working with hundreds of people working in Bristol’s fantastic arts and culture, to work out how they can best be supported through this pandemic. I am pleased to hear that the ideas generated in these discussions are being take up by Bristol City Council, to help target grant funding.   

It continues to be such a difficult time for those in the culture and events sector. I’ll keep listening to you and your concerns to try to better resolve the situation.   

In Bristol, there is some positive news. The Council has announced a new round of the Cultural Investment Programme Originators Fund. Bristol-based organisations and individuals delivering creative and cultural activities in the city can apply for between £500-£5,000.  

As a response to the coronavirus pandemic, I collaborated with the Culture and Creative industries and One city Team on a series of roundtable meetings discussing what the arts sector needed to do to recover from the effects of the crisis, and also build back better. We held an event on Bristol’s Culture, with over 250 attendees and a diverse panel of artists, performers, and members of cultural organisations. With the help of Rising Arts Agency and their ‘Whose Future?’ campaign, which was being displayed on billboards around the city, we discussed how culture can be more inclusive in both representation, participation and also in discipline – and how we can move forward in a coordinated way, ensuring everyone has a voice.  

I am very pleased that the ideas from hundreds of artists and others working in the cultural sector are being both listened to and taken forward as the Council supports the sector to recover. Ideas and opinions from these discussions – including how funding for arts and culture might be better targeted – is informing city recovery planning, and the recent review of the council’s Originator funding with a focus group of Bristol creatives, festival organisers, community representatives and citizens.  

The fund is open now, with a new simplified application form and guidance, improved accessibility, new online support and one-to-one assistance for applicants.  

I’m pleased that the Culture and Creative Industries Team have been so receptive to our discussions, and that so many people were able to share their views, ideas and experiences.  

If you are an organisation, group or individual creative in Bristol and you are interested in applying for the Originators Fund, find out more on the Bristol City Council website. They are hosting various information, networking and advice sessions this week – be sure to sign up. 

Another recent discussion I held, on space for culture will hopefully inform changes to planning rules, including on the use of ‘meanwhile’ space and permanent developments. I will continue to share the views of artists and cultural organisations with the Council. 

EU touring rights 

I am very aware of the dire situation facing many in the industry after the government’s decision will make it more difficult for UK artists attempting to tour in the EU I’ve pushed the government on this as well as the DCMS Select Committee, and I’m liaising with representatives of the creative industries including the Musicians Union, UK Music and others to get this dismal situation resolved.  

I won’t give up on this – I know how important international work is to the UK and particularly to Bristol, with so many people working in arts, performances, events and many dependent supply chains 

DCMS Select Committee Inquiries 

I’ve been putting constituents points to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee Chair, and I’m glad they are running an inquiry into the future of UK festivals.  If you are a festival-goer, you can still submit your views here until 22 February. I will keep raising the concerns of those in the event sector supply line who are still excluded from government support. 


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