Arts Council names Peterborough as one of its top priorities for cultural development

Peterborough has been named as one of the areas that will be made a priority in Arts Council England’s new cultural strategy announced today (September 16).

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 5:57 am
The Arts Council has pledged to make Peterborough a priority area for culture with more support for events.

Arts Council England’s three-year delivery plan sets out a detailed roadmap to implement the vision of their strategy Let’s Create which states ‘by 2030 England will be a country in which the creativity of each individual is valued and given the chance to flourish, and where everyone has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences’.

The delivery plan highlights where there are opportunities for investment, collaboration, and progress.

The publication of the plan follows the Government’s unprecedented £1.96 billion Culture Recovery Fund, administered by the Arts Council and other bodies.

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The Arts Council has pledged to make Peterborough a priority area for culture with more support for events.

The Culture Recovery Fund is the biggest one-off investment in culture from the Government in history, providing a vital lifeline to save the cultural sector and help organisations prepare for reopening.

Let’s Create was written just before the pandemic, but Arts Council says the vision still holds true and if anything is even more critical now.

To help make this vision a reality the delivery plan names 54 priority places across England.

The Arts Council says it will work closely with these locations to develop new opportunities for investment, both from the Arts Council and other partners.

The Arts Council said that ‘across the East of England from Great Yarmouth to Luton, Peterborough to Basildon, and Tendring to Fenland, priority places recognises the need for cultural investment, and it will give more people the opportunity to enjoy excellent cultural experiences in their communities and neighbourhoods’.

The Arts Council said that whilst ‘cultural engagement in Peterborough is relatively low, there is powerful ambition and momentum among local stakeholders to transform the cultural offer in the city – including the forthcoming launch of a new cultural strategy’.

It added: “There is an exciting range of cultural partners in the city and some very committed stakeholders such as Anglia Ruskin University and the City Council – and we will work to harness that energy and build fruitful partnerships, helping them to establish a strong cultural offer that gives everyone the opportunity to experience and participate in culture.

“Organisations in Peterborough were awarded more than £3.4million through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

“These places have been chosen through a set of criteria based on a review of current public investment and opportunities to engage with creative and cultural activity. Each of the priority places are ambitious to drive positive change through culture.”

In the last decade, the Arts Council has significantly shifted its investment outside of London.

The aim in Let’s Create is to increase focus on specific places underserved in the past.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said: “Artists, arts organisations, museums and libraries have found creative new ways to serve their audiences and communities since the start of the pandemic. Our new Delivery Plan shows how we’ll work with them to build on that spirit of imagination and innovation as our society reopens.

“It’s particularly exciting to be focusing on our 54 priority places over the coming years, as part of the Arts Council’s commitment to play its part in delivering on the government’s programme of levelling up. We’re looking forward to nurturing dynamic new partnerships with local people and organisations in each of these locations.”

Hazel Edwards, South East Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “Our priority places approach provides a vital recognition that there are places across the country with huge ambition to embrace everything that culture can offer, but need more than just funding to make that happen.

“Through working strategically with local partners, we can bring them together and support them as they develop the local cultural infrastructure, which will in turn create vital opportunities for both artists and local communities. This work takes time and by establishing Peterborough as a Priority Place, we’re committing our time and expertise to work hand-in-hand with them as they develop their cultural offering and identity.”

Councillor Steve Allen, Peterborough City Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing, Culture and Communities, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Peterborough has been selected as one of the Arts Council’s Priority Places.

“I’m looking forward to working with the Arts Council to develop our current arts, leisure and heritage services and generate some exciting new opportunities.

“As a council, we are fully committed to delivering first class arts, leisure and heritage services and firmly believe these services are key to the city’s long-term future and helping Peterborough recover following Covid-19.”

The Arts Council said Priority places is just one of the ways in which it aims to support levelling up by strengthening cultural and creativity opportunities in a targeted way.

Investment will increase in a range of other locations through Arts Council’s own programmes such as Creative People & Places (budget for 2021-22 £23 million), the new Place Partnership fund (budget for 2021-22 £7 million), and the Government funding streams that Arts Council support: UK City of Culture (the City of Coventry has received nearly £21 million for 2021), and the Stronger Towns Fund (£1.6 billion fund from 2019 to 2026).