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Portsmouth MP says lobbying for city’s arts and cultural sector ‘is paying off’ but Government must support those excluded

Stephen Morgan MP has today welcomed the latest round of grants to help the city’s arts and cultural sector recover from the pandemic but has called on Ministers to finally end the uncertainty for those in the creative sector who have missed out on financial support

In the Portsmouth South constituency, the Cultural Recovery Fund has today awarded grants totalling £1,066,493 to over six organisations from Concrete Music to The Mary Rose. Moreover, across Portsmouth, a total of £1,143,047 has been awarded to eight organisations.

Arts Council England has awarded over £261 million to more than 2,700 organisations as part of this round of the national programme.

The Portsmouth South MP has been tirelessly lobbying Government to support the city’s arts and cultural organisations and those who work in the sector in what has been an extremely challenging time for the industry.

This has included meeting with local representatives, submitting parliamentary questions, visiting organisations to hear concerns, supporting funding bids and lobbying Ministers directly.

Welcoming today’s latest grants round, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“I have long argued that when our country recovers from this pandemic culture must be front and centre. Yet so many of our city’s fantastic arts and cultural organisations have been under huge strain in the past year, with venues closed and ticket and secondary sales lost.

I am pleased that the lobbying of Government is finally paying off and these grants will go a long well to help many organisations get back on their feet and recover from a difficult year.

It was a pleasure to work alongside so many in the sector to secure much needed funding for Portsmouth, but we have more to do to get Ministers to listen, and ensure the strong foundations we need for the future”.

The Cultural Recovery Fund has been designed to support venues rather than individuals in the creative sector.  On this the city MP added:

“Our city’s recovery will not just be about making sure organisations have the resources they need to thrive, but also support is given to those amazing creatives who work within the sector.

Last month’s Budget made only a small adjustment to the support for the self-employed but there are still millions without support – many of whom work within the creative and events sector here in Portsmouth.

That’s why I will continue to lobby Government to make sure those excluded from financial support are not forgotten. They need certainty too and they need it now”.

Local beneficiaries of the Cultural Recovery Fund also include:

  • The Cathedral Church of St. Thomas of Canterbury in Portsmouth (£121,000 )
  • Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust (£222,300)
  • PRCDTC Portsmouth St Johns Cathedral (£102,200)
  • The Wedgewood Rooms (£73,686)
  • Groundlings Theatre (£32,582)
  • SSD Music limited (£299,002)
  • Portsmouth City Council – Museums (£160,640)
  • The Kings Theatre Trust (£172,931)

 

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‘March Budget fails Portsmouth families and the Excluded’, says city MP

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government’s recently announced budget during a parliamentary debate today for failing to deliver for local families, those in the creative sectors and the Excluded.

During the debate, Mr Morgan argued the budget was a ‘missed opportunity’ to support local businesses, particularly those in the cultural and creative industries, highlighting Victorious festival as just one example for Portsmouth.

It comes as in February it was estimated that over 15,000 people in Portsmouth were still furloughed by their employer in late January.

Meanwhile, the number of local people under 25 needing to claim out-of-work support has more than doubled in the last year, rising by 135%, according to the latest figures.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented:

“Local families and those in the creative sectors have been let down by this government and left forgotten – a running theme of successive Tory governments for our city.

“This budget was a chance to correct the mistakes of past and inequalities that exist in our community that this pandemic has both exposed and sadly made even worse. Instead, we got a budget of more of the same.”

“I will continue to speak up for our city and ensure the local fears of the damages this economic plan will cause are heard up in Westminster.”

Ahead last week’s budget announcement, Mr Morgan backed the Official Opposition’s ‘Jobs Promise’ call for young people in Portsmouth and across the country.

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Portsmouth MP calls for government-backed insurance scheme for festivals

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to introduce an insurance scheme for festivals across the country to ensure they can go ahead this year.

It comes as the Portsmouth MP has written to the Chancellor on behalf of local festival ‘Victorious’, a well-known and popular annual event for the city.

The letter outlines that whilst the festival can in theory go ahead in August according to the recently announced government roadmap, existing providers are unwilling to offer insurance due to current uncertainty, putting the festival at risk.

According to the letter, the music event creates at least 154 full-time equivalent jobs each year and generates more than £12m Gross Value Added to the local economy.

Meanwhile, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has previously reported that more than 90% of its members face costs that could ruin their businesses as a result of cancelled events and almost none were covered by insurance for cancellation related to Covid-19.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“The government has the perfect opportunity to introduce a government-backed insurance scheme for festivals, allowing them to bounce back this summer.

“It would secure jobs, promote local economic growth and provide entertainment after a long and difficult winter.”

James Ralls, Managing Director, Victorious Festivals, also said,

“Insurance is a key part of our preparations for Victorious Festival this year and the last piece in the puzzle to enable an amazing summer of live events to go ahead.

“I urge the government to help enable the UK creative industries to thrive once again by introducing a government backed insurance scheme.”

Mr Morgan has previously called for the government to protect creative workers and the wider related sectors.

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‘Government must deliver on its promise to creative workers’

I know from my postbag that many constituents are concerned by the issue of work permits for creative workers now that the Brexit transition period has ended.

The work musicians, performers, technicians and writers do in bringing creativity to our lives is important in and of itself, but it is also a hugely important part of our city’s economy and has to be part of the recovery plan for Portsmouth as we emerge from the pandemic.

The industry was one of the fastest growing sectors before the pandemic and a real example of Britain shining on the world stage as we are a net exporter of music worldwide.

I believe it is not acceptable that UK-based creative workers miss out. These opportunities are even more essential in the context of how hard-hit creatives have been in the pandemic. Incomes have been lost and so many people have fallen through the gaps in government support.

The current situation will prevent many younger, newer artists from touring and progressing their careers. It will also prevent European acts from touring here – hitting our music venues when they need it most.

Labour wants the Government to deliver on its promise to creative workers that they won’t be subject to unnecessary bureaucracy in the post-Brexit world. UK-based creative workers should not be disadvantaged by the Government’s failures to stand up for their jobs and nor should our venues miss out on EU-based talent.

Ministers need to put this situation right. I will continue to push the Government on this important issue of concern for Portsmouth people.

Stephen Morgan MP

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City MP welcomes new funding for culture in Portsmouth but calls for further action

Welcoming news today that local organisations from the Kings Theatre to Portsmouth Guildhall Trust, Wedgewood Rooms to Mary Rose Museum, will receive culture recovery money, Stephen Morgan MP has said Portsmouth expects the government ‘to go further’.

The Portsmouth South representative said:

“I am delighted that a number of Portsmouth’s arts, music and theatre venues and museums have secured much needed money from the culture recovery fund as announced today, and pleased to have played a part in making this happen.

Arts and culture form part of the soul of our city. Yet coronavirus and the economic crisis risks thousands of redundancies across the country unless the Government introduces sector-specific support.

This sector represents around a fifth of the economy, driving so much growth, yet account for less than one per cent of government spending. It is clear the scale of the challenge is such that help to date just doesn’t go far enough.

I will continue to stand up for culture in our city, lobbying for Portsmouth until Ministers step up and act with tailored support.

Portsmouth expects the Government to go further. If they don’t soon, we risk well-loved assets going under as a result of the coronavirus crisis”.

 

 

 

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City MP calls for urgent government support for EFL clubs in response to Covid-19

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to provide emergency financial support and guidance for EFL clubs, with many struggling to stay afloat financially due to the government ban on fan attendance in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

This comes as EFL clubs, which includes Portsmouth Football Club, lost £50m of gate income in the 2019/20 season by playing matches behind closed doors (Championship) or curtailing the season (Leagues One and Two) and will lose a further £200m if crowds do not return during the 2020/21 campaign.

EFL teams typically have a higher dependency on ticket, confectionary and merchandise sales.

The Premier League is also reportedly set to meet today to discuss a £250m emergency support package for the EFL, but the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South has called for urgent government support and guidance.

Stephen Morgan MP said,

“For EFL clubs like Portsmouth FC, it is becoming an increasingly untenable position to be expected to continue operating without further government support.

“EFL clubs are in a very different position to clubs in the Premier League, as lower league clubs depend much more on revenue streams dependent on fan attendance, which now looks very unlikely to happen for the foreseeable future.”

This comes following comments made by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in June that football should ‘support itself’ through the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Morgan, added,

“As I have said before, our football club’s success is our city’s success. EFL clubs are intrinsically part of the fabric of their communities. Whether that be through the jobs or income the club brings to the local economy, or the fantastic work of the community foundations like Portsmouth’s very own Pompey in the Community (PiTC).

“If the government is serious about ‘levelling up’, it will provide the financial support and clarity EFL clubs like Portsmouth urgently need.”

Mr Morgan has also written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Oliver Dowden MP, raising this issue, following an online event with Portsmouth fans and the opposition’s DCMS team last month.

The MP has vowed to continue to take action to help the club and fellow fans.

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City MP calls for Portsmouth FC fans to share their views on the future of football

Stephen Morgan MP has called for Portsmouth FC fans to take part in an online discussion to share their views on what improvements need to be made for the future of the wider national game. The online hour-long discussion will take place on Thursday 10 September at 6:15pm. You can register for the call here.

The event has been organised and will be attended by Shadow Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Jo Stevens MP, Shadow Sports Minister, Alison McGovern MP and Stephen Morgan MP. The key focuses of the discussion will be:

• Supporter representation within clubs and the wider game

• How their club is dealing with the ongoing Covid-19 situation

• Previous experiences and fan priorities for the future of the game

This comes as Covid-19 continues to put huge financial pressure on Football League clubs. The new football season approaches with increasingly more clubs struggling financially.

Across the country fans have felt their voices are not being heard or their views not listened to.

Mr Morgan commented:

“For many areas across the country, local football clubs are the beating heart of their communities. Whether that be through local support initiatives for vulnerable people, the economic benefits in terms of income and jobs or just simply providing a chance to escape for ninety minutes.

“However, in recent years, we’ve seen increasing concerns from football fans across England that their views are not being heard and a fading connection between them and their clubs.”

There have also been growing concerns around the management of club owners and prominent cases of clubs entering administration, most notably Wigan AFC and Bury FC.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“There have been serious causes for concern of late of how clubs like Wigan can enter administration, despite their stature in both the community and football league.

“It is vital for football fans to have their say on this issue and I encourage as many Portsmouth fans who can to take part in this important discussion.”

Mr Morgan recently visited the CEO of Portsmouth FC, Mark Catlin, and Director of Projects for Pompey in the Community, Clare Martin, to get an update on their recent work and future plans.

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Portsmouth MP backs Southsea Dinosaur community project

This summer Aspex in Gunwharf Quays is celebrating ten years since Luna Park towered over Southsea Common.

As a response to the national lockdown caused by Covid-19, and to mark the tenth anniversary since the Ultrasaurus sculpture astounded thousands of visitors to Portsmouth, the art gallery has commissioned Heather and Ivan Morison to rebuild their 2010 artwork in Virtual Reality.

Aspex is also launching a crowdfunding campaign to ‘Bring Back The Southsea Dinosaur’, raising public support for a permanent tribute to Luna Park to be installed next year.

If successful the campaign will fund a permanent piece of public art which combines a bronze sculpture and integrated augmented reality archive.

Backing the community project, city MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Known affectionately by fellow Portsmouth residents as ‘The Southsea Dinosaur’ the sculpture was visited, photographed, climbed on and enjoyed by thousands of people until it unexpectedly burnt down in October 2010.

 I welcome Aspex’s latest venture with our city’s communities ten years on, from cake competitions, to the trail, to commissioning new work, this is a great way to connect Portsmouth residents with art during this challenging time for our communities”.

To find out more about fundraising for the permanent tribute to Luna Park to be installed on Southsea Common next year visit the Bring Back The Southsea Dinosaur page here.

As well as the crowdfunding initiative, Aspex have organised for fifty Ultrasaurus dinosaurs on posters and in windows of local businesses and organisations across the city, which can be spotted throughout August and shared on social media at #SouthseaDinosaur.

 

 

 

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Portsmouth’s own “Crown Jewels” must be supported by Government says city MP after call with local theatres and music venues

Breaking headlines have revealed struggling theatres across the nation are being forced to axe thousands of jobs due to a lack of government support. As part of a string of actions to help the sector here in Portsmouth, Stephen Morgan MP has hosted a roundtable to hear concerns directly.

Bringing together representatives from the theatre, live music and venue hire sector, the Portsmouth South MP outlined the interventions he has been taking amid the pandemic before hearing concerns and agreeing a set of future actions. The roundtable follows direct lobbying by Mr Morgan to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport urging assistance for local theatres. The response received has been labelled as ‘bland’ and ‘lacking in any tangible detail’ by Mr Morgan as it generic format does nothing to address the specific local concerns outlined in the correspondence.

The Government has also been criticised by many for being focused on trying to protect theatres in the West End of London labelled the “Crown Jewels” and not doing enough to support struggling regional theatres and music venues.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of 5,000 jobs losses across UK theatres, 2,000 of which occurred after government announced its arts recovery package. With the arts and culture sector employing around 160,000 across the South East, this is of grave concern to Portsmouth’s jobs and economy.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I have heard again that despite details of the arts recovery package being announced, we are still nowhere closer to the money being distributed. This is just not good enough.

Every day that passes without the funding being released, and a lack of certainty about when theatres will be able to re-open, is a day that risks further job losses from the sector.

Since the onset of this pandemic, I have been calling on government to support our city’s arts. It is essential they immediately release the money set aside as part of the recovery package and explore alternative support such as exemption from furlough contribution and additional measures for freelancers.”

At the roundtable, a set of further actions were agreed by the city MP. Based on the concerns raised by culture sector representatives, Stephen Morgan will be urging the Culture Secretary to visit Portsmouth for a tour of the city’s venues and theatres to hear first hand about the challenges they have been facing.

Mr Morgan added:

“Following the bland response from government to my letter that lacked any tangible detail about the local concerns raised, I will be urging the Culture Secretary to visit Portsmouth’s theatres and venues to see exactly the problems arising from the one-size-fits all approach that is being adopted.

It is obvious from discussions with sector representatives today that each organisation faces a unique set of challenges. I will continue to push Ministers to acknowledge this and offer more comprehensive support to our city’s theatres and music venues – our own Crown Jewels”.

Stephen Morgan has been acting on behalf of the culture sector throughout the pandemic. Writing to the Culture Secretary to urge a recovery package, submitting written questions about cash flow to venues, and throwing his weight behind Portsmouth Creates open consultation are just some of ways he has offered support.

 

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“Working together is crucial to overcoming inequality in our communities” says Stephen Morgan MP

In a week where Portsmouth’s Labour Group put forward both a motion and an amendment at the city council’s meeting aimed at combating structural racism, Stephen Morgan MP talks about why differences need to be set aside to overcome inequality.

The harrowing footage of the murder of George Floyd has quite rightly shaken the world. While the Black Lives Matter movement is on the frontier of the battle for civil rights, and their peaceful resilience is an inspiration, there are things that we can do here in Portsmouth to stamp out all forms of racism and injustice. To do that, we need to make sure that we are all working together, looking inwards at how we can improve, and making tangible change in our communities at a local level.

Tragically George Floyd’s death was not a one-off event. It is endemic of a deep-set racism in our society. A racism that does not respect borders, has the ability to cross oceans and is just as dangerous across the Atlantic as it is here within our own city. And it is therefore clear that we have a responsibility to drum out this rot where we find it in our own community.

Nationally, there is a lot more that government must do. With the Race Disparity Audit, Lammy Review and the McGregor-Smith Review we have seen inquiry after inquiry telling us the same thing – that racism has infiltrated every echelon of our society. We have seen enough words, what we now need to see is action to tackle the inequalities in employment, health and education laid bare by the pandemic. That is why I am proud Portsmouth as a city, once again, proved that it is willing to tackle the tough challenges head on this week.

At full council I am proud that the Labour Group played a part in making positive changes in our community. Consulting with grassroots minority groups about the disproportionate effect of coronavirus, commitment to developing an anti-racism strategy, strengthening engagement with local BAME groups and reviewing councillor training on equality responsibilities are now all tangible local changes resulting from the Labour Group’s intervention.

When we know that racism and discrimination suffered by Britain’s black, Asian and minority ethnic people has contributed to the high death rates from Covid-19 in those communities, this couldn’t be more needed.

When facing division and hatred, a united front is always the most effective tool.  That is why at full council Labour worked proactively with the administration and other parties to make sure Portsmouth’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement was as strong as it could be. This meant supporting the efforts of other parties, but constructively offering improvements where they were needed.  It is important that representatives from all parties stand united and work together to combat injustice and hatred.

So, the passing of the motion strengthened by Labour’s amendments at full council proves that our city can pull together and be at the forefront of proliferating progress. But this is only a first step. There is a great deal more to do.

Past behaviour of local representatives, local hate crime data and the everyday racism we all see proves that.  We need to be constantly reassessing our response to racism, listening to our communities and translating this into real, visible change.

While in the first council meeting since the tragic death of George Floyd, the Labour Group has proven its unwavering commitment to creating a more equal society, there is no room for complacency. The party locally will continue to work with others to push for a fairer, unprejudiced and more just society.

Stephen Morgan MP