Ten successful bidders will be part of a £3m programme which aims to develop partnerships between arts, culture and tourism in England.

Southend pier stretching to the main land
Southend-on-Sea is among the ten ‘cultural destinations’ to receive funding.

Spicygreenginger via Creative Commons (cc by-sa 2.0)

Ten arts and cultural organisations will be working with Destination Management Organisations with a view to increasing their reach, engagement and resilience by working with the tourism sector. Grants for the art and tourism partnership projects have been made under the Cultural Destinations programme , a £3m initiative which forms part of a three-year partnership between Arts Council England (ACE) and VisitEngland, the national tourist board. The aim of the partnership is to provide the means for the cultural and tourism sectors to develop their offer and their ambitions in order to make a contribution to economic growth.

Among the winners are The Brewery in Kendal, which aims to use its £324k grant to restore Cumbria’s reputation as the UK’s leading rural cultural tourism destination; and a £292k project led by Firstsite and Focal Point Gallery which will be run in partnership with Visit Essex, Essex County Council, Colchester Borough Council and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, is aiming to build working relationships between the arts and tourism sectors. Square Chapel Arts Centre will use its £292.5k grant to boost tourism in the region, encourage more overnight stays and develop collaborative packages for tourists. Alan Davey, Chief Executive of ACE said: “The Cultural Destinations programme is one of a number of steps which Arts Council England and VisitEngland is taking to stimulate domestic tourism as well as helping draw increased visitors to these shores for the benefit of the sector, local communities and critically, to help grow the economy.” The arts and cultural sector contributes significantly to England’s visitor economy, with at least £856m a year of spending by tourists visiting the UK attributed directly to arts and culture. However, there is thought to be plenty of unexploited potential in the sector to do even more. VisitEngland, Director of Strategy & Development Louise Stewart said: “VisitEngland supports the cultural sector through a variety of campaigns aimed at inspiring visitors to make the most of this country’s fantastic arts and music scene. We believe that closer working between the two sectors at the local level will improve the visitor offer and that this will create economic benefits for local areas as we have seen in the many excellent proposals to the programme from destinations right across England.” The ten successful awards have been made for projects that will run from March 2014 for a maximum of three years, ending no later than March 2017.

Elizabeth Hunt