City of Culture bid for Peterborough in council’s new strategy
Peterborough City’s Council’s Cabinet has approved a new ‘cultural strategy’ that aims to culminate in becoming the UK’s City of Culture.
Speaking at their meeting (29 November), Chair, Cllr Steve Allen, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Housing, Culture and Communities, said: “This new Peterborough Cultural Strategy would run from 2021-2030 and be developed with partners to assist in the growth, investment and the promotion of community and economic development throughout the city.
“In late 2019, the council and its partners began to develop and renew the then existing Cultural Strategy which was due to expire in 2020.
“Obviously, the pandemic has had an effect on our plans, as it has with so many aspects of our lives; but we feel that now is the right time to begin to re-celebrate the cultural wealth of the city and people of Peterborough with a new Cultural Strategy that will take us through to the next decade of this century.”
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Adrian Chapman, Service Director, Communities and Partnerships, added: “The Cultural Strategy Group (CSG) have assessed the impact of lockdown on people, loss of economic challenges to cultural lifestyle throughout the city, and come to the conclusion that now is the right time to renew and redevelop our plans.
“Research has shown from each of the last Cities of Culture that for every £1 spent in developing the cultural strategy in their city, somewhere in the region of £2.30 was returned in actual economic value.
“The vision for Peterborough in 2030, is that we shall not only have renewed our commitment to cultural values across our diverse city, but that we shall celebrate the last year of this new Peterborough Cultural Strategy as City of Culture for 2029-2030.
“We want to transform our cultural scenery making this city a better place for everybody who visits it and lives here.
“Gone will be those silly, ridiculous surveys that we have to suffer seemingly every year concocted by people who I doubt have ever actually set foot in Peterborough, but whose comments designate us as a ‘cultural vacuum’.
“There is boundless creative cultural breadth and diversity throughout Peterborough and with us all working together, driven by the inspiration of our young and communities, we can engage the population in a celebration of this city that they will hopefully be proud of and remember for decades to come.”
Cllr Marco Cereste said: “I once read that we have 114 different languages spoken in Peterborough – which must mean that we have at least 114 different cultures in our communities who would want to spotlight themselves and take part in a strategy such as this.
“I think it is an absolutely brilliant idea and I fully support it.”
Cllr Irene Walsh added: “I think a good cultural strategy for Peterborough would be a great thing for the city, helping the cohesion and diversity of our people, what is important to them and what they want to see and learn about others with whom they share the community.
“But we mustn’t forget that this is not only about the city and city-living. We have a vast rural landscape which contains many agricultural cultures from the indigenous peoples who work the land, and I would hope that this Peterborough Cultural Strategy would embrace the lifestyle and the culture of the work that they do as well.”
Mr Chapman replied: “I agree totally with you councillor – any celebration of the life of the people of Peterborough and the culture they have developed should be celebrated as part of this programme.”
However, while broadly in support of the scheme, Cllr Andy Coles had concerns, saying: “If I put my finance hat on for a moment, I should urge caution with a strategy such as this and at this time.
“I see from the report that it will cost somewhere in the region of £175k per annum and, while I agree in principle with the aims of the project, I would ask if now is really the right time to be doing this when we are making such sweeping cuts to our budget and trying to save as much money through services and partnership contracts as we can?”
Mr Chapman reiterated: “I can only agree with your caution councillor Coles, but draw your attention to the significant economic wealth that such a strategy has brough to the last few cities who have endeavoured to campaign for City of Culture.
“I firmly believe that Peterborough would benefit culturally and economically from taking this new proposal through to its conclusion in 2030.
“We are a young, vibrant, fast-growing community with diverse areas that would benefit enormously from celebrating everything that they have and from those in the community around them, and I hope you will support the proposal.”
Members of Peterborough City Council Cabinet agreed unanimously to approve the recommendation for a new ten-year Cultural Strategy, and the matter will not go before the next Full Council on Wednesday, 8 December 2021 for final approval.