Arts Council England Announces Commitment to Blackpool as One Of 54 Priority Places Nationally
Written by John Williamson on 17/09/2021
Arts Council England has announced that Blackpool will be one of 15 priority places in the North where they want to develop new opportunities for investment, as part of the publication of its three-year Delivery Plan for 2021 – 2024.
Arts Council England’s three-year Delivery Plan sets out a detailed roadmap to implement the vision of their strategy Let’s Create: 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 Delivery Plan follows the Government’s unprecedented £1.96 billion Culture Recovery Fund, administered by the Arts Council and other bodies. Driven by the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, with the backing of Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the Culture Recovery Fund is the biggest one-off investment in culture from the Government in history, providing a vital lifeline to save our cultural sector and help organisations prepare for reopening.
Let’s Create was written just before the pandemic, but the vision still holds true and if anything is even more critical now. Creativity and culture can, and should, play a part in helping level up the country.
To help make this vision a reality the Delivery Plan names 54 priority places across England. Arts Council will work closely with these locations to develop new opportunities for investment, both from the Arts Council and other partners. Across the North, from Barnsley to Blackpool, South Tyneside to Kirklees, County Durham to Wigan, and Barrow-in-Furness to the Tees Valley, priority places recognises the need for cultural investment, and it will give more people the opportunity to enjoy high-quality cultural experiences in their communities and neighbourhoods.
Blackpool has huge creative and cultural potential and Blackpool Council’s commitment to culture during a challenging time for local authorities has been recognised by the Arts Council. We look forward to working with the Council and other partners to make the most of their successful Town Deal Bid which brings additional resource and timely opportunities, including significant new investment in Blackpool Illuminations. There is real potential to build on the cultural assets of the town which include The Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool Grand Theatre and LeftCoast Creative People and Places project. Since the beginning of the pandemic Blackpool has received £2,399,718 investment from the Arts Council 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. Priority places are just one of the ways in which the Arts Council is committed to levelling up by strengthening cultural and creativity opportunities in a targeted way. Investment will increase in a range of other locations through the 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 the Arts Council supports: 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).
Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, says “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.”
Jennifer Cleary, Director, North, Arts Council England, said: “I am excited today to announce that Blackpool is one of our 15 priority places across the North. The launch of our Delivery Plan, which sets out how we’ll implement our new 10-year strategy Let’s Create, and the announcement of our priority places will see us working closely with partners across Blackpool to ensure that creativity and culture can play a key role in levelling up across the North.
“Public investment in the arts is vital and never more so than as we emerge from the pandemic. It has been fantastic to see the Government’s commitment to art and culture through the Culture Recovery Fund which has provided a lifeline to arts and cultural organisations. The launch of our Delivery Plan and announcement of a set of priority places affirms our commitment to investing in the sector to ensure everyone across the country can access art and culture no matter where they live.
“Blackpool is well-known for its seaside entertainment and in recent years the town’s cultural plans have grown, with for example The Grundy art gallery and the Creative People and Places project LeftCoast. It is fantastic to see a real commitment to culture from Blackpool Council, as well as the appetite that local people, creatives and cultural organisations have towards making Blackpool a North West cultural hub. I look forward to working with everyone across Blackpool to nurture and grow the brilliant cultural offer the town already has.”
Cllr Lynn Williams, Blackpool Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Tourism and Culture, said: “We wholeheartedly welcome the Arts Council’s Let’s Create strategy and the plan to work with Blackpool as one of their priority places.
“We have worked closely with the Arts Council over the past decade on their successful Creative People and Places Programme developing one of their flagship CPPs, LeftCoast.
“We are proud in having two Arts Council National Portfolio Organisations in Blackpool, the Grand Theatre and the Grundy Art Gallery, but know they would benefit from further investment to deliver their ambitions and we have other local cultural organisations keen to develop their work with our communities.
“Covid-19 has hit the cultural sector badly both nationally and in particular places like Blackpool where entertainment and the cultural offer are so fundamental to the town so this new initiative is very timely as we look to our recovery plans.”
Download the list of priority places, including methodology, here (please note that hyperlinks in the plan will be live on the Arts Council website at 10am on Thursday 16 September 2021).
Download the Delivery Plan here (please note that the plan itself and the hyperlinks in the plan will be live on the Arts Council website at 10am on Thursday 16 September 2021).