Five areas to share £20m cultural regeneration pot

Theatre Royal, Wakefield.

Grimsby, Thames Estuary, Plymouth, Wakefield and Worcester will receive a share of £20m to invest in local culture, heritage and creative industries.

The Cultural Development Fund (CDF) has been launched by the government to become ‘a catalyst for regeneration,’ with each area designing plans to strengthen the local arts sector, increase cultural access and provide greater opportunity for people to forge creative careers.

The government hope the funding will create over 1,300 new jobs, benefit 2,000 people through skills training, and support more than 700 businesses. Through match-funding, an extra £17.5m will be invested across the five locations.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said: ‘Creativity, arts and heritage make our towns and cities unique and our communities better places to live.

‘The Cultural Development Fund will support tailored local plans that use culture to create jobs, boost tourism and ultimately regenerate communities.

‘This is an incredible opportunity that will not only help people build careers in the arts and culture locally but also boost wider investment and diversify the creative economy.’

The Fund was launched off the back of the success of Hull as UK City of Culture 2017, which has led to the creation of 800 new jobs created in the city since it was awarded the title in 2013.

Tim Davie, co-chair of the Creative Industries Council added: ‘I welcome today’s announcement, which marks another important step in the implementation of the Sector Deal agreed between the Creative Industries Council and Government.

‘These awards highlight the extent to which the creative industries are now a key part of local economies all over England and should enable them to grow further.’

Last month a group of Labour MP’s signed an open letter to the culture minister calling for a new UK Town of Culture award to run alongside the UK City of Culture, which they believe will regenerate local areas and high streets, create new jobs and bring communities together.

The open letter said small towns are ‘simply not equipped’ to contend against major cities in a bidding process which they say disqualifies parts of the country that are rich with cultural history and heritage.

Regeneration consultant John P. Houghton criticised the proposals, saying a Town of Culture award encourages the idea that towns are ‘no more than mini-cities.’

‘Towns have identities, economic functions, and dynamics that are distinct and different from cities,’ he said.

‘We need an approach to the enhancement and revitalisation of towns that is more ambitious than “city policy-lite”.’


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