The King’s Speech 2023

On Tuesday, King Charles III delivered his first King’s Speech (and the first in 72 years) at the State Opening of Parliament, setting out the government’s legislative plans for the year ahead. Whilst the speech lacked any specific mentions for our industry, the UK Government’s broad support for the Creative Industries did feature.

The King’s Speech referenced the fact that the Government will be working to make the UK economy more competitive by introducing a bill to promote trade and investment with economies in the fastest growing region in the world – cementing the UK’s membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The Bill on this will enable the UK to negotiate trade agreements with these dynamic economies – delivering jobs and growth in the UK.

SOLT & UK Theatre have been working with the Theatres Trust and Arts Council England to develop the Greening Theatres Capital Investment Fund Proposal, which we are pleased to note will be referenced in the brochure for delegates attending the forthcoming Global Investment Summit, which the King referred to in his speech. Our proposal calls for capital investment to help theatres become more energy efficient.

The King also highlighted a duty which the government plans to introduce to protect public premises from terrorism. This proposed legislation, also known as Martyn’s Law, was developed in light of the Manchester Arena attack in 2017. SOLT & UK Theatre hosted a webinar on this forthcoming legislation earlier this year and we will share further details on this in the new year.

The long-awaited Media Bill was announced in the speech, much to the relief of colleagues across the Creative Industries. Aspects of the draft Bill have the potential to alter Public Service Broadcasters’ (PSBs) obligations to provide diverse, creative content across specific genres – including arts programming. Similarly, in an increasingly busy media landscape, the Bill aims to give PSBs ‘prominence’ on devices and platforms, over and above commercial competitors. Definitely one to watch!

Technical qualifications such as apprenticeships offer an important work-based route into the industry for young people, as well as older workers looking to reskill. We therefore welcome the King’s reference to the need for high quality apprenticeships, particularly considering the theatre industry’s pressing skills shortages in highly skilled technical, craft, operational and production areas, such as lighting, sound, rigging, automation, costume and wigs, hair and make-up and front-of-house. One of the aims of our Theatre for Every Child Campaign is to improve children and young people’s awareness of work-based routes into the industry, which will be featured at the fast approaching TheatreCraft23, taking place on Monday 20th November at the Royal Opera House and across the West End. TheatreCraft is the UK’s largest free careers event for anyone aged 16-30 seeking offstage roles in theatre.

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