The Liberal Democrat Council Group in Hull have today launched a campaign with the aim to get the Government to act and save Hull's culture sector in light of the devastating news around the closure of Hull Box Office, The Welly Club and Polar Bear late last week.
The Lib Dems Shadow Shadow Cabinet Member for Culture & Leisure Cllr Rob Pritchard wrote to the Government in a plea to intervene and save the sector which had been heavily impacted bu the Covid-19 pandemic.
In his letter, Cllr Pritchard said that the city is "at risk of losing all of the progress it has made as the UK’s City of Culture" if the Government, Council and other stakeholders don't step in to act immediately to save Hull's treasured arts, culture and heritage sector.
Commenting Cllr Rob Pritchard said:
"Last week saw Welly, Polar Bear and Hull Box Office all saying their doors are closed for good which was an absolute culture shock for all of us, but we can't just stand by and let this happen.
"I've written to the Government to ask for any emergency support they can give in these extraordinary times and we'll be working with the Council and other stakeholders to try and get together to save Hull's arts and culture as well as our nighttime economy. We need to do this before the impact of Coronavirus bears too much of a burden."
Dear Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden MP,
I write to you today regarding the announcement of the government’s announcement to put forward £1.57 billion investment to protect Britain’s world-class cultural, arts and heritage institutions which I wholeheartedly welcome.
Hull is the UK’s City of Culture and its world-class cultural, arts and heritage institutions have been severely harmed financially by the Covid-19 outbreak and a number of local music, art and culture venues have begun to declare bankruptcy in Hull – the funding could all be too little and too late if we don’t get access to it in Hull right away, as the number of local bankruptcies are growing.
The people of Hull are rightly proud of their heritage and history and its music, arts and culture venues are a core part of the city’s offer that brings in visitors. Attracting these visitors into the city are an integral part of the city’s capability to recover from the financial implications of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Hull really is at risk of losing all of the progress it has made as the UK’s City of Culture and for it to count for nothing, if financial intervention and action is not taken now to stabilise this sector locally.
I request that you please make an immediate emergency funding initial tranche available to Hull City Council, so that it can utilise it to stabilise the local economy in terms of its cultural, arts and music venue offer to the country and wider world.
With this emergency money it will buy enough time for these cultural, arts and music venues to have their finances reset, so they can continue both now and long into the future – it would be such a catastrophe if the UK’s City of Culture were to have a long list of bankruptcies just weeks before the money came forward and for this to become a national press story.
I understand that in normal circumstances there is a bidding process, as Councils around the country make their case to receive the funding and put it to the government for consideration. However, we need a tranche of money as soon as possible to alleviate the immediate situation facing the city whilst Hull City Council is putting together a more comprehensive bid.
I appreciate the government’s announcement today will see more cultural, arts and music venues able to soon open, but in Hull there may not be any left when the time comes for them to re-open. Please take this necessary action now.
I have copied in Hull City Council’s CEO Matt Jukes to this letter as time is of the essence and he is aware fully of what we are calling for the city. I urge him to call together the key stakeholders in the city to hold an emergency meeting to form a strategy of how to save the cultural, arts and music sector in Hull so that if and when the funding arrives that it can be put to immediate positive effect.
Cllr Rob Pritchard
Hull City Council
Lib Dem Shadow Cabinet Member for Culture & Leisure
Link to the campaign on the Lib Dems website: https://www.libdemsinhull.org.uk/save_hull_city_of_culture