A couple of weeks ago on these pages I mentioned a much loved movie – Groundhog Day. Indeed, I recall referring to films fairly frequently in this column and that is because they are one my favourite pastimes. I spend all day reading stuff for my work so to sit back and be entertained when I’m relaxing is a joy.
But not only do our creative industries offer great entertainment and light relief for millions like me, they also make a fantastic contribution to our economy. They provide for over 2 million jobs and contribute an estimated £92 billion to our nation’s coffers.
In addition, they are crucial to Britain’s unique global soft power; influencing and shaping conversations and cultures the world over. They will be a vital component of a post Brexit Global Britain and I am therefore delighted that the Government is foursquare behind our arts sector; providing £850 million in tax relief to help them compete on the global stage.
Furthermore, I am very proud to support our creative industries in Parliament as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Channel 4. In that role I was fortunate enough to attend the recent BAFTAs, where I had the absolute pleasure of meeting the best leading actress winner Olivia Coleman – now of course with and Oscar to her name. She is everything I had hoped she would be; fun, humble, real and, of course, supremely talented - a magnificent female role model and a perfect ambassador for modern Britain.
In my Parliamentary activities, however, I have found there is something of a gender imbalance in the film industry. For example, only 4% of the biggest films of the last decade have had a female director. It is an imbalance we must address and I will be working with the industry to help achieve that goal.