AT THIS time of year, we would normally have numerous opportunities to enjoy arts and music festivals and events, including several here in East Lothian. Unfortunately, the impact of the pandemic has meant that these events have either been cancelled entirely or switched online.

Locally, Fringe by the Sea, North Berwick International Highland Games and Haddstock were cancelled, albeit Haddstock went online, while the Lammermuir Festival has also moved online.

These events are not only important culturally but also economically. Across East Lothian, the arts and entertainment sector supports about 2,250 jobs, while musical and other cultural events also help bring thousands of visitors to the county each year.

I raised the plight of local music events in Parliament with the Economy and Culture Secretary in June and urged her to provide more assistance to them. To their credit, both the UK and Scottish Governments have announced a significant package of support for the arts, including specific funds for grassroots music venues, museums and galleries, theatres, and live events.

However, with many staff in the industry on furlough, it will need more support to prevent job losses when the scheme ends in October.

Last month, my colleague Claire Baker, shadow culture and tourism secretary, held an online roundtable meeting with key stakeholders in the creative industries to discuss how best to use additional funding to help the sector recover.

The conclusion was that we must make sure workers are properly supported throughout the sector’s recovery. Crucially, this must include tangible plans for a jobs guarantee scheme to support and create arts and entertainment jobs, now and in the future.