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UK music industry to be boosted with jobs, rehearsal rooms

test 2 June 2009

UK: The UK government has announced plans to create more than 5,000 new jobs in the culture, music and creative industries, writes David Davies. A rare bright spot in an overwhelmingly miserable few months for Gordon Brown’s administration, the new initiative forms part of the £1.1bn Future Jobs Fund outlined in the April budget.

Under the terms of the new scheme, local councils, third sector groups, arts organisations and creative industry bodies will be able to bid for government funding for new, innovative jobs.

The announcement follows the recent news that commercial music industry umbrella organisation UK Music has linked with JobCentre Plus to offer 200 jobs to young unemployed people around this summer’s music festivals.

"It’s a fact that the UK punches well above its weight in the cultural and creative industries," commented former culture secretary Andy Burnham at the launch of UK government culture, media and sport programme ‘Lifting People, Lifting Places’. "International recognition and awards for British talent and content show what we’re really good at. But getting in to these sectors can be hard, especially for young people and those coming from disadvantaged groups and deprived communities. The Budget announcement of a £1 billion jobs fund provides a real chance to help put this right."

"We want this fund to create real jobs in interesting and socially worthwhile industries so people can get the skills and qualifications they need for jobs in the future. Jobs for young people in the culture and creative industries will do just that," added former work and pensions secretary James Purnell.

The first half of May also saw the unveiling by Burnham and UK Music CEO Feargal Sharkey (pictured) of a new rehearsal facility in Liverpool. The Knotty Ash Youth and Community Centre now features two music rehearsal rooms where bands can practise. Young people using the centre will also be able to learn new skills, including sound engineering and event promotion.

The Liverpool project is the first of ten similar schemes around the country to be established with a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) grant. New rehearsal spaces are currently in development or under consideration in Bristol, Washington (nr Sunderland), St. Austell (Cornwall), Hastings and Norfolk.

In related developments, UK Music has welcomed recommendations made by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in support of a relaxation of the much-criticised 2003 Licensing Act. Specification recommendations contained in the Committee’s report include the exemption of venues with a capacity of 200 persons or fewer from the need to obtain a licence for the performance of live music, and the reintroduction of the two-in-a-bar exemption, enabling venues of any size to put on a performance of non-amplified music by one or two musicians.

Drawing attention to the "extremely delicate foundations" that underpin the UK music industry, Sharkey commented: "In the midst of recession and with an increased emphasis placed on our creative industries to stimulate the economy, it is paramount that we should be pulling together and creating opportunities. Live music can have a hugely positive economic impact both locally and nationally. I call on government as a matter of some urgency to take heed of the Committee’s views and take quick and assertive action."

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