Nusrat Ghani, MP for Wealden, has met virtually with representatives of amateur choirs in Wealden to discuss the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on restarting their activities.
Nusrat hosted a virtual meeting of Wealden’s choir leaders to listen to their concerns regarding ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and the inability to restart group singing, despite lockdown measures continuing to ease.
According to current Government guidelines, unlike professional groups, non-professional singers are excluded from the easing of restrictions on the culture sector and cannot meet in groups of more than six indoors. This is posing great difficulties to Wealden choirs, who have invested a great deal into obtaining bigger rehearsal venues where social distancing could be implemented, cleaning equipment and other Covid-safe measures.
Members and Leaders from Ashdown Singers, Hailsham Voices, Fletching Singers, Crowborough Choral Society, Mayfield Festival Choir, Penshurst Choral Society, Heathfield Choral Society and South Downs Singers were present at the meeting, representing the thousands of musicians across Wealden impacted by these restrictions. Nusrat is committed to make sure their concerns are heard and addressed in Parliament.
Nusrat Ghani said: “We are so lucky that we have so many fabulous choral groups in Wealden. They are key to local communities, providing not only a much-needed wellbeing boost to residents who have been self-isolating since last spring, but also raising valuable contributions to our local charities each year though their performances. I trust that they are taking every precaution to conduct their rehearsals in a Covid-safe way and they should be treated the same as professional musical groups and allowed to perform. Wealden choirs work with and employ professionals such as musical directors, accompanists, soloists and orchestras, so the catch-all label 'amateur' fails to understand how these groups function.
"I will be making representations to the Department of Health and the Department of Culture regarding the matter and as Member of the Covid Recovery Group, I will work with my Parliamentary colleagues to urge Ministers to get this matter resolved.”
Please see the letter sent to both Rt Hon Matt Hancock and Rt Hon Oliver Dowden below. The letter was also endorsed by neighbouring MP for Bexhill and Battle, Huw Merriman.
The Ministerial Response is available below, as an attachment.