SDLP Communities Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has criticised Chancellor Rishi Sunak for ‘damaging and unhelpful’ comments, after he suggested musicians and art sector workers should “find other job”.
Mr Durkan also reiterated his plea to both the Communities and Economy Ministers, for the urgent release of £29 million for the Arts Sector.
The Foyle MLA said: “The Chancellor’s remarks are not only appalling but entirely disrespectful to all artists and performers who have spent years perfecting their craft in one of the most challenging industries.
“Unhelpful commentary such as this only serves to undermine the plight of the Arts Sector.
“Where we would be, particularly during the period of lockdown and increased time at home, without the fruits of the Arts Sector?
“Without the escapism, comfort and welcome distraction of movies, books, box sets and music? All of which have brought some semblance of normality and enjoyment in chaotic times.
“The Arts Sector was among the first industries, to feel the impact of Covid-19 and the last to receive government support.
“Even yet musicians, singers and DJs have fallen through the gaps, left in the lurch by complete lack of support coming from the government.
“Chancellor Rishi Sunak has poured salt in the wounds of a Sector and individuals struggling to stay afloat.”
Mr Durkan continued: “I have written to both Minister Ní Chuilín and Economy Minister Dodds, imploring them to secure support for these creatives and other businesses dependent on the industry, who have had their incomes decimated from the outbreak of this crisis.
“The recently announced £29 million support package for the Arts, in light of continued venue closures and further restrictions, will no doubt be a life-line for many within the Sector.
“Considering recent restrictions now prohibit singers, musicians and DJs from performing in venues where alcohol is consumed, it is vital they are also included in upcoming financial assistance schemes.
“Focus must now be placed on getting this money out in a fair and equitable way. The Arts Sector and its practitioners cannot afford any further delay,” added the Foyle MLA.