May 28, 2024 3 min read

Culture select committee urges the next Parliament to continue its work on streaming and grassroots venues

With a UK General Election now set for July, Parliament will be officially dissolved on Thursday. Ahead of that, the culture select committee Chair has written an open letter calling on future MPs and the next government to build on its recent work around music streaming and grassroots touring

Culture select committee urges the next Parliament to continue its work on streaming and grassroots venues

Following last week’s surprise calling of a General Election in the UK, the Chair of Parliament’s Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee has issued an open letter calling on future MPs and the next government to utilise the blueprints they have developed for building a fairer and prosperous creative sector. 

Campaigners in the music community who have worked closely with the CMS Committee on things like streaming and grassroots touring will be hoping that the new intake of MPs following the General Election - and the next iteration of the select committee - do just that. Particularly as some MPs who have championed their causes in the past are stepping down, in particular Labour MP and former CMS Committee member Kevin Brennan

In her letter, CMS Committee Chair Caroline Dinenage MP says that, since the last UK election in 2019, “our committee has been at the forefront of standing up for our world class creative industries, supporting strong, independent media and working to ensure that our sporting heritage is protected for generations to come”.

“If the UK is to continue to lead the way in the world of art, music and drama”, she adds, “we must not take the success of our many talented artists, performers and producers for granted. The committee’s efforts pushing for agreements on fairer pay and conditions, and ensuring the opportunities and challenges posed by the rise of AI are met head on, have been a constant thread throughout our work”. 

In music, stand-out inquiries undertaken by the CMS Select Committee include the one on the economics of music streaming in 2021 and, much more recently, one focused on the challenges facing grassroots music venues. 

The streaming inquiry resulted in various government-led projects to address issues in the digital music market, all of which are ongoing. The grassroots venues report, meanwhile, called on the live music sector to urgently introduce a levy on large-scale shows to provide funding for venues, promoters and artists operating at the grassroots. 

The role of a select committee is to scrutinise and make recommendations. To what extent that brings about change depends on how the government and any scrutinised industries respond. However, when the committee continues to take an active interest in a topic, momentum is maintained and tangible change is much more likely. 

After the General Election, there will be a lot of new MPs in Parliament as well as a new government. Campaigners in the music community will be hoping that the next iteration of the CMS Committee will, as Dinenage proposes, build on the work of recent years, and that the new government will factor the committee's recommendations into its policies around music. 

One champion of the music community who won’t be in Westminster after the General Election is Kevin Brennan, who was particularly proactive during the committee’s streaming inquiry. 

In a statement yesterday, Brennan said that he had originally intended to stand again in this year’s General Election but, after speaking to his family, he has “concluded that this is the right election for me to stand down”. 

In 2022, Brennan revealed he had undergone surgery to treat prostate cancer, which he referenced in his statement. “The job of a member of Parliament is immensely rewarding but hugely demanding for the individual and their loved ones”, he wrote. “I have always enjoyed its intensity and challenge, but after surgery for prostate cancer a small seed of doubt was sown as to whether I should continue in such a full-on role”. 

Brennan was also one quarter of MP4, a cross-party band made up of MPs who were also musicians. The other members were Pete Wishart, Ian Cawsey and Greg Knight.

There could be a number of new musician MPs following the General Election, to form a new band and - more importantly - to seek a place on the next CMS Committee and continue the recent campaigns on behalf of music-makers. Ivors Academy Chair and Gomez founding member Tom Gray is standing for Labour in Brighton, while Blur drummer and FAC board member Dave Rowntree is the Labour candidate in Mid-Sussex.

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