A Memorandum of Understanding has committed the two parties to investigating the impact of creativity on young people’s wellbeing.

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Arts Council England (ACE) has committed to developing Kent’s cultural sector and supporting new research into the impact of creativity on young people’s wellbeing through a new link with the University of Kent.

A three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – the most recent in a long line of agreements between ACE and third parties – also commits the two signatories to supporting the engagement of young people in culture and exploring the potential for knowledge exchange.

Creative cluster

The agreement has been formalised amid plans to develop Kent’s Medway area as a hub for the creative and cultural industries, a key element of the university’s forthcoming plans.

To this end, both ACE and the university pledge to ensure Kent has the “infrastructure and opportunities necessary to develop talent and creative careers across the county”.

ACE will also support connections between the university and the sector to support an educational offer that reflects the “skills and needs” of current and future cultural and creative industries.

Arts and health

The MOU stresses the importance of the arts as a supplement to medicine and care, and its ability to improve the health of people who experience mental or physical problems.

Kent and ACE will work together to explore shared research interests on the impact of creativity, “in particular on children and young people’s health and wellbeing,” and on the crossover of medical and creative practice and digital innovation.

MOU culture

ACE has a history of using MOUs as a basis for deeper, more sustained work with partners. It signed an agreement with De Montfort University in 2016, focusing on improving the quality and quantity of arts and culture across the county, then selected the university as a partner for work on a plan to develop creative talent in young people.

ACE has also signed MOUs with the University of West England, Queen Mary University of London and the University of Salford and Salford City Council.

However, questions were raised about the strength of the MOUs after Bristol City Council, which renewed an MOU with ACE in 2015 promising to improve the availability of funding for the arts in Bristol, decided to cut arts spending in the city by £380k by 2021/22.