A number of prominent musicians and names within the Manchester music scene have condemned Rishi Sunak’s comments appearing to suggest arts workers should “find other jobs”.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s comments have gone on to cause uproar online.
In a video-recorded and printed interview with ITV Politics this morning, Mr Sunak appeared to issue some vague remarks about what people working in the arts should do as the industry struggles amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He said: “I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job that they were doing at the beginning of this crisis.
“That’s why we’ve put a lot of resource into trying to create new opportunities.”
He then went on to say that government is “trying to do everything we can to protect as many jobs as possible”, but conceded that unemployment is “likely to increase”.
When asked whether he was suggesting some of the UK’s “fabulous musicians and artists and actors” should get another job, Sunak said “as in all walks of life everyone’s having to adapt”. He continued: “Can things happen in exactly the way they did? No. But everyone is having to find ways to adapt and adjust to the new reality”.
The ITV article was later updated to state: “This article has changed to reflect that the Chancellor’s comments were about employment generally and not specifically about the music or arts sector.” however, Sunak’s comments still caused anger from those working in the struggling arts sector.
Now, well-known names on the Manchester music scene have had their say.
Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, The Smith’s guitarist, co-songwriter and solo artist Johnny Marr, Charlatans’ lead singer and solo performer Tim Burgess, and Bolton-born singer/songwriter Badly Drawn Boy have all taken to Twitter this afternoon to address Mr Sunak’s controversial comments on the arts sector.
In his expletive-filled rant, Liam Gallagher asked the government to “show a bit of respect”.
He also went on to state that: “If anyone needs to retrain, it’s [the government]”.
The same sentiment was echoed by Tim Burgess, who also called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to talk with him about the struggles the arts sector is currently facing.
Johnny Marr questioned the Chancellor’s comments with regard to the content produced by the arts sector and consumed by the public during lockdown.
Badly Drawn Boy also chose to use rather hard-hitting in his response to the Chancellor’s comments on Twitter this afternoon as well.
Sacha Lord – Night Time Economy Advisor for Greater Manchester – has also hit back at the Chancellor’s comments today.
Taking to Twitter to respond to Rishi Sunak’s comments this afternoon, Mr Lord indicated that the government is “killing off our scene”.
He also called on live music fans to “remember this when we are through it”.
Earlier in the day, Mr Lord had also taken to Twitter to call on the government to “urgently introduce a sector-specific support package” and stated that the night time economy would not survive without it.
One of the significant points in his call was to “cancel the current 10pm curfew” for public safety.
Rishi Sunak has since responded to the backslash surrounding his comments.
Following the change in headline of the originally-published ITV article to reflect the nature of the comments in the interview, the Chancellor took to Twitter to respond to the widespread criticism he has received throughout the day.
He indicated that the original article headline “falsely suggested” his thoughts on the arts sector.
Mr Sunak also went on to say that he “cares deeply about the arts”.
He then referenced the government’s £1.57 billion culture package – which he called “one of the most generous in the world” – as a reason to back up his supportive stance.
Hello Cosmos wow Stockport on a night where the venue shone just as bright as the music
We had the pleasure of going along to see Hello Cosmos play a special one-off show at none other than St Mary’s Church in Stockport town centre on Friday night, just the gig the building has ever seen and given how incredible an experience it was, we hope there’ll be many more.
Picture the scene: it’s a frosty Foodie Friday night in Stockport with people wearing beer jackets and sharing hot street food to keep warm as the tunes ring around the marketplace; then you spot some light off in the background and notice the windows of the old town centre church glowing.
Not only was that our signal to get a move on, finish our scran and head over to the intimate gig, but it was also a beacon of light for other punters to go and check out as they looked for any excuse to come in from the cold.
And that’s pretty much how it happened. Our three-man party was full of SK natives who wanted to see what it would be like to have a church we grew up with turned into a gig venue, so we were always on board, but plenty of other locals had the pleasure of simply stumbling upon tickets at the door.
We don’t think we’d be putting words in their mouths to say they will have been glad they did, as within a few seconds of walking into the oldest parish church in Stockport, we had never seen the already ornate and historical site look so stunning.
This wasn’t just a case of plonking some speakers and some drums near the altar like some half-arsed church fête, the roof, windows, pillars and various arches were all lit up by various multi-coloured projectors and strobes and it all felt pretty surreal.
If you’ve ever watched any kind of performance at Manchester Cathedral or a similar venue, you’ll know this kind of set-up is nothing new per se, but it did feel like something different for Stockport, especially when one of our party’s last memories was standing at the pulpit to read the Christmas story.
Then the music kicked off and we have to start by saying we were pretty impressed by the two support acts, Fondabath — fellow Stopfordians who were probably just as surprised to be in St Mary’s as we were — and Big Society, also local lads, both of which gave plenty of reason to go away and listen to more.
Then came the main event, Hello Cosmos, spearheaded by frontman and bass player Ben Robinson, who along with his jumpsuited bandmates wasted no time in transporting the crowd to what felt like a little pocket of space in some alternate reality.
Having had a few drinks and being given kaleidoscope glasses on arrival certainly helped, but it really was a truly audio-visual experience, from the various coloured jumpsuits and neon hula-hooping to the truly mesmerising light show that lit up the church throughout the set.
It all felt rather fittingly though when you take into account that Robinson is not just a musician but the founder of both Kendal Calling and bluedot Festival — I mean, even their sophomore album Golden Dirt has a glowing spaceman walking through a sea of sunflowers.
If you’ve never heard them before, think post-punk spoken word and almost Yard Act vibes, only if Christopher Ecclestone was on vocals instead. But their sound is truly sprawling, with ‘Fuse’ from their debut record giving the harder-hitting sounds and ‘Loud is Beautiful’ showing how they best intertwine electronics, keys and those oh-so-good horns from sax player Elara.
Be it jumping up and down in unison as the electric violinist played or Ben dropping to his knees to scream his head off, hopping off stage to walk around the crowd with a megaphone or releasing a sea of balloons from above for the big finish, this ‘Live at St Mary’s’ one-off special had a bit of everything.
It went from a little gig on a random winter evening in Stockport to an unforgettable one that SK-born gig-goers like us never thought we’d see in this particular borough of Greater Manchester whose culture and music scene are clearly thriving.
We really hope this is among the first of many — Hello Cosmos helped make it a success and we can seriously see the Live at St Mary’s series taking off if it continues to get the backing.