Michael Ellis – 2019 Speech at Walpole British Luxury Summit

Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Ellis, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, on 5 February 2019.

Thank you Michael and Helen for the lovely welcome and for inviting me to speak at your inaugural British Luxury Summit.

It is a great honour to be in such august company, with so many heritage brands, august establishments, emporiums and boutiques which help make the British tourism offer such an impressive one.

It is organisations like yours that attract our highest spending visitors. And higher spending visitors mean – quite simply – more money coming into the UK and its institutions. That spend creates jobs, contributes to UK taxes, and helps to drive further inbound investment.

But it is also a mark of quality for which the UK is recognised around the world. It thus contributes to our soft power and how we are thought of by others.

I want the luxury market to thrive long into the future here in the UK and the report you referred to just now shows that this part of the sector is growing at a tremendous rate.

Today’s summit is all about the future, so with that in mind, I want to talk to you about three key words: confidence, challenge and ambition.

Uncertainty has seemed like the word of the day for some time now, and I recognise that businesses like yours want certainty as a matter of priority.

The biggest uncertainty – of course – has been our forthcoming Exit from the European Union. But I know our officials, across Government, have been working hard to prepare businesses and citizens for the potential impacts our exit could have on the industry.

We have now published a series of technical notices about what no deal would mean for travellers, for passengers and for workers. Just last week the Home Secretary confirmed that arrangements for tourists and business visitors will not look any different.

Although the underlying legal framework will change, EU citizens coming for short visits will be able to enter the UK as they can now, and stay for up to three months on each entry. Until 31 December 2020, EU citizens will be able to enter the UK by showing either a valid national identity card or a passport.

But if anyone here feels uncertain on particular elements, please do contact my team – through my office – and they can provide as much guidance as possible.

Make no mistake, the UK’s Exit from the EU has obvious challenges which require us to be at the very top of our game. I know that our tourism and hospitality sector will be able to demonstrate to visitors that the UK remains an open and welcoming place.

Our relationship with the European Union may be changing, but our fantastic array of tourism products will not.

From the whisky distilleries of Scotland to the Giants Causeway of Ireland, Caldicot Castle in Wales to the London Eye, we have a little bit of something for everyone. We always have and we always will.

With the help of organisations like VisitBritain, a stalwart pillar of certainty for tourism in these uncertain times, I am confident that we can work together to resolve any concerns and grasp any opportunities.

Which brings me to the challenge. Uncertainty brings opportunity, a chance for everyone to step up and take their work to the next level. In the case of tourism, our challenge is to turn our incredible soft power into hard cash for businesses, jobs for citizens and opportunities for inward investment and growth.

So how can we do this? We need to ensure that our ambassadors have an outstanding stay whilst they are here, so that they promote our product to their friends and family – as well as their social media followers of course – and they therefore encourage more people to come and enjoy a holiday here in the UK.

And who are these ambassadors? They are our visitors, your clients. In essence, our lifeblood. Their word of mouth can persuade so many more people that a holiday in the UK is better than anywhere else. And that investment in the UK makes more sense than anywhere else.

In the luxury sector, we can provide them with the ultimate experience to talk about; the very best of customer service, accommodation, shopping and travel.

One of my challenges to you is to keep pushing the boundaries of our luxury offer and keep exploring what we can do to give our customers an even more comfortable and luxurious time in our great nation, with amazing stories to share with their friends and family.

Not only does it increase our draw as a nation, but it improves our prospects of investment, with figures showing that people who had a good time in the UK were 17% more likely to invest in British businesses. I think that is a pretty good statistic, but I would like to make it better.

Currently, just under 1 in 5 people who visit the UK want to invest in us in the future. Well what if we could make that 1 in 4?

Which leads me to my final word: ambition! Achieving the highest possible standards has long been a British ideal. And achieving these standards is increasingly important in an ever more competitive environment.

So many of our global competitors are seeing the growth potential of tourism, and that means more choice for visitors. We need to make sure Great Britain is heard among that noise.

You will have all, I hope, heard about the ideas being worked on for the proposed Tourism Sector Deal.

For those of you that have not, what we would like to see is a deal, between us in Government and you in industry. You have come together and told us what you need from Government to boost your productivity and keep the UK competitive. On business visitors. On local tourism offers. On connectivity.

But we – in turn – want to see equal ambition from the industry. Ambition to invest in training our workforces. As I saw at Gieves and Hawkes with their highly-skilled apprenticeship training. -Ambition to share the data you have, so that we can better target our overseas promotion. Ambition to make the UK the most accessible destination in the World.

This is where I want to see Tourism’s ambition and drive shine through. Where you can all work together and, with Government, create something durable, that makes us more prosperous and a centrepiece in the UK’s economy.

I encourage any of you who have not yet done so, to work with Steve Ridgway of VisitBritain – on this Sector Deal particularly – but also in preparing our sector for the future, expanding our markets and appeal and driving growth across the nation.

I challenge you all to be even more enterprising, committed and pioneering.

Working together, I believe we have an offer here in the UK that can continue to go from strength to strength. Continue to create those jobs. Continue to attract that tax growth. Continue to encourage investment.

I thank you all for your attention and I look forward to working with you in the future.

Michael Ellis – 2019 Speech at Theatres Trust

Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Ellis, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, at the Theatres Trust on 22 January 2019.

I am delighted to be here with you all today.

Thank you for inviting me to speak at this important launch. Let me first take the opportunity to thank the Theatres Trust for your contribution to arts and culture. You have continuously campaigned to ensure that theatre buildings, many of them with historical and cultural significance, are protected for generations to come.

It is vital that we continue to invest in arts and culture. This investment can help develop lifelong passions and create new opportunities for work.

Creativity, arts and heritage make our communities better places to live and theatres are an incredibly important part of that.

We know that British theatre is respected for its high-quality output and the skilled professionals, both on and off the stage, who keep the industry running. Theatre in England is vibrant and thriving, with a diverse range of artists and companies producing exciting and varied work.

A theatre can be a challenging but exciting place to work and I believe there are some great opportunities in the industry.

Not just for the highly-skilled and the longstanding practitioners of their craft, but for young people just starting out who can bring a fresh perspectives and hone their expertise.

Like you, this Government and I, are fully committed to ensuring that arts and culture are accessible to everyone.

To that end, theatres as physical buildings and the institutions that support them, take a central role when it comes to accessibility.

I am sure everyone here today is in agreement that anyone should be able to experience the magic of theatre. That audience members feel part of the work.

This is why the work of the Theatres Trust and their annual Theatres at Risk register plays such a significant role in ensuring we are all aware of some of these important cultural institutions which are at threat.

It is of great credit to the hard work of the Trust and the sector that two theatres that were on last years’ list have returned to live performance use – including the one where we are today – and two others are no longer at risk.

This is great news, thank you for work and your commitment to the industry.

It is also very pleasing to see that a number of other theatres, such as the Burnley Empire and the Bradford Odeon, amongst others have been making progress in securing their futures. I very much hope that this progress continues.

We know many of the Theatres on the list are experiencing financial problems.

We also know that the cultural and creative industries make a vast contribution to our economy, accounting for over 5% of UK GVA, and the Government is committed to supporting their growth.

Culture also has a significant role to play in place-shaping, as it has important social benefits in terms of health, education, community cohesion and wellbeing. Opportunities to engage in culture – be it arts, heritage, museums or film – can have a significant impact on our lives and create places where people want to live, work and do business.

This is where the theatre, as a physical building, can play a central role in making places better areas to live, and instill a sense of community. And it may be that placemaking that can help to protect some of these cultural assets.

Evidence from the UK and other countries shows a link between cultural investment in towns and cities and economic growth. Culture, sport and heritage assets create thriving, interesting areas where people want to live, work and set-up businesses.

Creative businesses particularly benefit from clustering around cultural assets.

The impact of place-based investment in arts and culture on the attractiveness of a city or town as a place to live in and invest can also be seen in the transformative effect of Hull’s highly successful year as UK City of Culture 2017.

Since 2013, investment in Hull has amounted to £3.3 billion and the city’s employment rate and number of businesses are at the highest ever recorded rate, including over 550 new cultural jobs.

This is why it is so encouraging to see more and more theatres working outside their own walls and using their programmes to engage the communities that surround them.

It is my hope that by continuing with such innovative, entertaining and relevant programming, public interest in our theatres can only increase.

As announced by the Chancellor in the 2018 Budget Statement, DCMS will be providing £55 million as part of the Future High Streets fund, dedicated to supporting the regeneration of high street heritage assets. Those much loved historic buildings that provide a sense of place, community identity and connectedness.

£40 million of this fund will be delivered through my Department’s Arms Length Body and statutory advisor Historic England to support a high street focused version of their successful Heritage Action Zones scheme, and £15 million will be delivered through the Architectural Heritage Fund to support community groups to take ownership of heritage assets.

This programme will aim to support the economic growth and regeneration of towns and high streets across England by improving their physical and economic condition as well as increasing community and investor confidence, social cohesion and pride in our places.

The programme will help to bring about the regeneration of high streets and town centres by identifying, targeting and de-risking heritage assets as well as diversifying and optimising their uses to meet a range of community needs.

As I have set out, Government believes that place-based cultural investments should be a key part of the local growth strategy for all towns and cities in England.

This is why we have recently introduced the Cultural Development Fund, a fund for towns and cities that want to transform their urban areas through culture-led strategies. We received many strong bids from towns across England, and as some of you will know, the Secretary of State announced the winning bids on Friday last week.

Going forward, there are great opportunities for theatres to play a central role in our vision, and I am sure that with the support of Government, organisations like the Theatres Trust and Local Authorities, we can all work together to ensure that our much loved theatres can continue to thrive across the country.

I would like to thank Theatres Trust again for inviting me along today to speak to you all, and thank you all for the outstanding contributions you continue to make to our nation’s theatre.