Culture secretary John Whittingdale said last night that a UK exit from the European Union would not adversely affect the success of British artists around the world.
Speaking at a UK Music reception at the House Of Commons to launch the trade body’s Wish You Were Here music tourism study, Whittingdale – who is campaigning for a Leave vote – hailed “another great year for British music”.
“Once again, British music is conquering the world,” he said. “Once again, we had a British artist at the top of album sales [charts] across the globe, and it’s British artists who are conquering countries across the world. It’s because we are the most extraordinarily creative nation on the planet – and that has nothing to do with whether or not we are in the European Union.
“This is probably the last event taking place in the House Of Commons before what happens in a week’s time and the world may or may not be different,” he added. “But the one thing which I’m absolutely certain about is that British music will go on continuing to thrive.”
UK Music CEO Jo Dipple avoided the subject of Brexit during her speech, but appealed to the politicians present to back policies to help the music industry.
“National and local Government must give us licensing and planning law that supports live music in small and large venues,” she said. “Give us access to finance – business rates that don’t cripple grassroots music venues. Ensure that Rob and Lisa, tattooed owners of the alternative Sanctuary Rock Bar in Burnley, get the same treatment as any other funding application to the Arts Council.”
Dipple also called for the Licensing Act to be reformed, for copyright law to be “strong and enforceable”, for the school curriculum to include creative subjects and for “a rock-solid BBC”.
“When you get the policy right and we give you our music,” she added, “This country, your constituents, music lovers, even George Osborne, we all benefit.”
Artists attending the event included Pink Floyd's Nick Mason, Bugzy Malone, Sandie Shaw and Kaiser Chiefs' Simon Rix.