• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email

Two Local Enterprise Partnerships have announced plans to work with Arts Council England to make the most of their regions’ creative assets, boost jobs and drive growth.

Photo of Town Crier

'Town Crier' by Gerry Balding (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Culture-boosting initiatives have been launched by two Local Enterprise Partnerships in the East of England.

A new cultural strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk aims to maximise cultural opportunities by stimulating culturally driven growth in the region.

The ‘Culture Drives Growth’ strategy has been drawn up by the New Anglia Cultural Board, which acts as an advisory body on culture to the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (NALEP). It responds to the NALEP’s Strategic Economic Plan, which identifies culture as one of ten priority sectors that are vital to achieving “ambitious” economic growth targets in the counties.

Plans for transformation

The strategy lists six priority objectives for culture, together with action plans for achieving them:

  • Accelerating creative job growth;
  • Scaling cultural and creative investment;
  • Backing creative talent;
  • Increasing cultural and creative diversity;
  • Building an inspiring place to live, work, visit and invest; and
  • Broadening international engagement.

The strategy will be used as both “a transformative plan for a step change in culturally led growth, and a prospectus for shared investment and partnership”. It is described as an “enabling document” that will be used to engage with local, national and international partners in the creative, business, tourism, education and public sectors, and establish “delivery coalitions” to address the priorities.

Introducing the strategy, Mark Pendlington, Chair of NALEP, and Helen Wilson, Chair of the Cultural Board, said: “The strategy is already a story of successful creative collaboration with New Anglia LEP and its cultural partners, forging a strong sense of common purpose.

“Our comprehensive set of priority objectives place culture at the centre of New Anglia LEP’s growth agenda. Our emphasis is on investment; business support; education; talent development; creative diversity; and international impact and profile; all joined together by our leading edge approach to integrating culture, place and economic growth.”

Arts and technology in Cambridge and Peterborough

The publication of the new strategy coincides with an announcement that the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (GCGP LEP) is giving a grant to a “radical” new arts and technology programme called ’in collusion’, which aims to boost the cultural scene and creative work opportunities in the area over the next two and a half years.

The move has been prompted by evidence that, despite the creative industries being the fastest growing economic sector in the UK, parts of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough area have some of the lowest engagement in the arts, with Peterborough and Wisbech in the bottom 20% of the national average and Kings Lynn in the bottom third.

The project marks the first time the GCGP LEP has supported an arts programme, and its grant of £325k matches pound for pound an ‘Ambition for Excellence’ grant from Arts Council England.

‘In collusion’ is being run by Collusion, an experimental, not-for-profit agency based in Cambridge, which works with artists, technologists and academics to “create ambitious, disruptive, immersive works that engage the public”.

With a focus on technology, it will bring together people from different backgrounds to form creative clusters in Cambridge, Huntingdon, Peterborough, King’s Lynn, Bury St Edmunds and Wisbech. These clusters aim to “inspire creative people to gain entry-level and advanced skills in both art and technology,” and develop creative ideas into products and services.

At the launch of the Peterborough cluster, artist Lee Mason said: “Creative businesses in Peterborough aren’t used to having opportunities presented to us, so Collusion’s offer of help and guidance is invaluable. Their very open, inclusive and unpredictable approach is very exciting. This programme could be the building blocks for an infrastructure that doesn’t yet exist.”

Liz Hill