Being designated a “City of Culture” has direct benefits writes Cllr Shaz Nawaz, leader of the Labour group on Peterborough City Council.
Hull won this accolade in 2017: as a result, it attracted a total audience of 5.3 million attending over 2,800 events, cultural activities, installations and exhibitions.
Over half of the audiences were from Hull with nearly all residents (over 95%) attending at least one cultural activity. An evaluation showed a new confidence in local people, with significant increases (+9%) in residents’ willingness to take part in a range of cultural and non-cultural activities, including volunteering and sport. The projected economic value of tourism was in excess of £300m.
Furthermore, over half of city centre businesses reported a positive impact during the “Made in Hull” event. This was linked to increased footfall, sales, diversification of customers and a positive atmosphere in the city. A total of 37 percent of those businesses reported an increase in turnover and 27 per cent saw an increase in profit on the previous year. Forty percent of those firms were able to offer their staff additional working hours.
So, how do we achieve the same in Peterborough? How do we become a “City of Culture”? First, we need to think much bigger: it’s very easy for a tired administration to get bogged down in the detail of budgets and to come up with short term tactics and patches to deal with its shortages; a council leadership that has lost all vigour will say that this is the best that can be done.
It may, from time to time, engage in costly vanity projects, but nothing that achieves a sea change in how our city is perceived, nor raises the upper limit to which it can grow.
The Labour Group believes we can do better. Our plan has four major points:
1. We will formulate a clear strategy for arts and culture based on our vision to become a ‘Premier League’ city
2. We will ensure that the infrastructure and street scene get major investment and overhaul
3. We will involve key stakeholders and the people of Peterborough as a whole – we can only do this if we all work together
4. We will build on our identity and showcase it – we are a key city and our arts and culture should reflect that.
Our ultimate goal is to make it so that Peterborough receives the designation of a “City of Culture” and accrues the same benefits that Hull managed to achieve.
However, there is more to it than increased tourism and economic growth. We want nothing less than for Peterborough to be seen as a great place to live; it already is, but we want it to be known as such.
Provided Labour’s plans are implemented to the full, we will attract talent to the city to complement and support our excellent base; a virtuous cycle could potentially take root, whereby the city’s reputation continues to be enhanced over time. When Labour takes control of the council, we will make it happen.