Economy and Society: Contribution of Music

Alex Sobel Excerpts
Tuesday 21st January 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Westminster Hall

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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Conor McGinn Portrait Conor McGinn
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21 Jan 2020, 2:39 p.m.

I agree entirely. It is that diversity and depth that gives UK music its strength.

It is clear that music in the UK punches well above its weight economically, but that is only part of the picture. Music’s value is not purely financial; its social value must not be ignored. Music can have a profound effect on health and wellbeing. Charities such as Nordoff Robbins do fantastic work in bringing high quality music therapy to as many people as possible.

Alex Sobel Portrait Alex Sobel (Leeds North West) (Lab/Co-op)
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21 Jan 2020, 2:39 p.m.

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Conor McGinn Portrait Conor McGinn
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21 Jan 2020, 2:39 p.m.

I will, and I will then make some progress, because many people want to speak and I want to give them that opportunity.

Alex Sobel Portrait Alex Sobel
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21 Jan 2020, 2:40 p.m.

I thank my hon. Friend for securing this debate and making an excellent speech. On mental health, does he not agree that small venues, such as Brudenell Social Club in my constituency, are a great outlet for people’s mental health, as well as being community resources right across the piece for acting and a whole range of arts? It is not just about music; small venues provide a gamut of benefits to society.

Conor McGinn Portrait Conor McGinn
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21 Jan 2020, 2:49 p.m.

Absolutely, they are the very definition of holistic therapy. Nordoff Robbins has worked with over 10,000 vulnerable people, holding 37,000 music therapy sessions in 15 different places across the country, and 90% of those who had music therapy last year were clear that it improved their quality of life.

According to a report by the all-party parliamentary group on arts, health and wellbeing, music therapy reduced agitation and the need for medication for 67% of people with dementia. We can all think of many fantastic examples in our constituencies of groups who use music in working with people with dementia.

In Labour’s recent charter for the arts, my party noted the important role of the arts in mental health and wellbeing. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) will speak more about that from the Front Bench. All the evidence suggests that children who are engaged in education through music, or similarly through other subjects such as drama and sport, do better at core subjects such as maths and English. Music can help give young people confidence and creative release. It teaches teamwork and problem-solving skills, and it is often the reason why a child wants to go to school in the first place.

The contribution of the music industry is not just a fantastic national story. The data in UK Music’s report show the tremendous contribution it makes in every town and city across the UK. Merseyside is, of course, synonymous with world-leading British music, and I do not just mean Liverpool. In St Helens, we have a number of excellent local studios that encourage young musicians to nurture and develop their creative talents, such as Jamm, Elusive and Catalyst. Sadly, the Citadel, one of the first music halls in the country, recently closed its doors, but remarkably it has already reinvented itself as an excellent arts provider, using its strong brand to maintain contact and access for people who want to get involved in music and the arts. The Theatre Royal, as I mentioned, as well as other venues, host live music weekly.

St Helens is also the birthplace of: Sir Thomas Beecham, one of the country’s greatest conductors, known for his association with the London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic orchestras; the Beautiful South’s vocalist Jacqui Abbott; and Budgie, the drummer with Siouxsie and the Banshees. It is also importantly home to the Lancashire Hotpots. Of course, Rick Astley is from Newton-le-Willows, where I live. I commend him on playing a fantastic gig in his home town last year at Haydock Park racecourse and I commend the Jockey Club on its fantastic initiative, using its venues to promote music alongside horse-racing.