Friday, May 26, 2023

Labour back musicians

Labour made a pledge to slash the costs of overseas touring for musicians last week at the launch of a new network for creatives in the North.

All of Tameside’s three Labour MPs were on hand to push the importance of music, film, television and the arts and make them important economic policy priorities for a future Labour government.

Ashton MP and Deputy Leader Angela Rayner spoke at the event at ITV Studios in Trafford Park and insisted the group wouldn’t just be a talking shop but a genuine forum for ideas to boost one of the major planks of the UK economy: “A network that won’t just back our creative industries, but boost them,” she said.

Among the 100 plus attendees were: producer Nicola Shindler from ITV Productions, and the founder of multi-award winning Red Productions; Warehouse Project owner Sasha Lord; Danny Brocklehurst writer of Brassic; Co-operative UK chief executive Rose Marley, creator of the Beyond the Music festival this year; Glossop-based entrepreneur Thom Hetherington; and Tom Gray, founding member of the Mercury prize-winning band Gomez.

I enjoyed meeting Gray, who has been a vocal and vociferous music industry campaigner.

As well as success as a musician and songwriter with Gomez, whose first two albums – Bring It On (1998) and Liquid Skin (1999) – both went Platinum in the UK, Gray is a composer for movies, advertisements and TV shows, including British comedy In My Skin.

His core argument is that Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming services have stitched up a system to distribute the money they make with the major record labels, leaving crumbs for the majority of artists.

“I love streaming, I just hate the remuneration system sitting inside it. It’s a gorgeous house with lovely furniture, but with dangerously bad wiring and the estate agent seems to have set the price a bit low in search of a quick sale,” he said.

He has the ear of music fan Jonathan Reynolds MP, the Shadow Business Secretary and member for Stalybridge & Hyde, who as well admitting to me that Bring It On is one of his favourite albums.

“Tom is thinking seriously about what the structure of the music industry, and new developments like AI, means for artists and how we can ensure we keep the UK as a world class hub of creative talent,” he said.

The Labour Creatives Network has been designed to bring together artists who share Labour values, aiming to create a community that will help the party develop its policies and manifesto. 

In a message to the arts world, Labour shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell MP said: "A Labour government is coming and we will back Britain’s creative industries to the hilt."

“The creative industries are worth £178 billion worth of growth every year, £50 billion worth of exports, two million jobs, 750,000 businesses."

Powell also promised to tackle the effects of Brexit on artistic touring by negotiating an EU-wide cultural touring agreement as well as a visa waiver for touring artists including allowances for cabotage, carnets and custom rules.

She also touched on the great job Liverpool did hosting Eurovision and promised to examine why cities are often pitted against each other in expensive competitions to host events.

“We want to encourage more collaboration and end the competitive processes which pits places against each other. We’ll work with Metro Mayors and others to break down barriers to growth everywhere with proposals for creative clusters, supporting plans for a cultural corridor across the North,” she said.

Andrew Gwynne MP (Denton and Reddish) was also there mixing with the actors, musicians and leaders in attendance, and pictured pulling pints in the Rovers Return. 

Reynolds said: "It was particularly nice to see my constituents Dave Moutrey from HOME and Liz O’Neill from Z Arts there. We should absolutely relish and cherish the incredible creative talent in the North West.”

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