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UK’s new Culture Secretary urged to prioritise action on rising costs

The UK’s new Culture Secretary, Michelle Donelan, has been urged to take immediate action to support the entertainment and arts sectors in the wake of rising costs.

Donelan, a former WWE marketing executive, replaces Nadine Dorries in the role, which covers entertainment, sport and the arts, after being appointed by new UK Prime Minister Liz Truss.

Donelan, who has been an MP since 2015, previously served as Minister of State for Higher and Further Education and Minister for Universities at the Department for Education.

A graduate in History and Politics from the University of York, Donelan began a media career as marketing assistant on Marie Claire magazine. That was followed by marketing executive roles at the History Channel and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and a spell as a marketing freelancer.

The UK Government will today reveal how it plans to assist businesses and other organisations in the wake of severe increases in energy costs.

Jon Collins, chief executive of the LIVE trade group, said: “We congratulate Michelle Donelan on her new appointment, and look forward to working with the new Government to ensure the UK’s live music industry continues to flourish as one of our greatest cultural and economic assets.

“We believe that there are practical solutions to the issues holding our industry back and look forward to meeting with the new Secretary of State to make progress on these important matters.”

UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin welcomed Donelan to her role and called on her to “support and champion” the music industry.

Njoku-Goodwin said: “Following the Prime Minister’s comments about how we need tax cuts to stimulate the economy, we will continue to press the case for fiscal incentives to increase investment, support for UK exports and a significant cut in VAT to help boost jobs and growth in our sector. We also urgently need action from Government on the energy crisis, which is crippling businesses across our sector.”

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), the UK’s leading non-profit festival trade association, called for support ahead of “a uniquely challenging time for festivals as we look to the 2023 season”.

Meanwhile, the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre urged Donelan to retain the Theatre Tax Relief “so that local theatres can guarantee a pipeline of productions to help drive economic growth”.

“The energy crisis is causing much concern for theatres across the UK,” said SOLT president Eleanor Lloyd and UK Theatre presidents Stephanie Sirr and Jon Gilchrist.

“Theatres are doing everything they can to be as energy efficient as possible but like our colleagues across the cultural, creative and hospitality industries there are undoubtedly tough times ahead.

“Theatres are committed to a plethora of sustainability initiatives including cutting energy consumption but the reality is that for many, they will see their energy bills double and even triple which will have significant operational consequences.”