Plans to boost culture to be considered by BCP Council’s Cabinet

Ambitions to grow our three towns as a regional powerhouse for the arts, will be considered at the next meeting of BCP Council’s Cabinet (8 March 2023).

The proposed Cultural Strategy outlines long-term aspirations to explore the potential for a landmark new cultural venue and a new international-scale cultural festival, to build on its current vibrant festival credentials.

If approved by Cabinet, the plans aim to ensure Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are recognised alongside core cultural UK cities as a world class arts and cultural destination.

The strategy represents the first whole place Cultural Strategy for the region and aims to attract the cultural investment the sector needs to flourish and grow.

It sets out ambitions to boost culture over the next 10 years, working across sectors including tourism, education, health, business and placemaking, which is the planning, design and management of public spaces.

Cultural groups, practitioners, artists and performers across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole were involved in developing the proposed strategy, which focuses on three themes of talent, infrastructure and place. 

Councillor Beverley Dunlop, Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Culture and Vibrant Places, said: “Culture brings communities together, initiates pride in a place and nurtures respect and understanding. It reaches across the divide, breaks down barriers and can be life changing. It is festivals, food, heritage and tradition as much as it is arts and performance.

“Connecting people through culture should be our greatest aspiration. Whoever you are, resident, visitor, cultural provider, performer or artist, this is for you.

“I am proud to have been part of this strategy. With it we will be well placed to establish ourselves as a regional cultural powerhouse.”

The Cultural Strategy is owned and led by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Cultural Compact, which was set up in 2019 together with Arts Council England to empower the destination to develop new approaches to boost culture.  The strategy is supported and enabled by the Council.

The proposed strategy includes a long-term ambition to retain more graduates in skilled local employment by developing ways to make the destination an obvious place for building a creative career or developing creative skills at any life-stage.

It includes the aspiration for the creation of a Cultural Consortium by 2025, with the aim of ‘amplifying the voice of the cultural and creative sector’ so that it would play a ‘central role in the forward planning and regeneration of our towns’.

Morag Wood, Chair of BCP’s Cultural Compact, said: “Building a more resilient, inclusive and diverse future for culture has never been of greater importance. Despite the significant challenges we face today, culture cannot be just a ‘nice to have’.

“Culture not only supports our wellbeing, it drives growth, creates jobs and develops skills and creativity – where culture thrives, whole places are enriched.

“As Arts Council England sets out in its own ten-year strategy, Let’s Create, we want every resident and visitor to benefit from the opportunities and positives that culture can bring. Our aim with the strategy is to create a unifying focus for culture, supported by a broad strategic framework that can change as needs evolve and new opportunities arise.

“Ultimately, this will place Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole in a strong position to attract the cultural investment the sector needs to flourish and grow and provide a real opportunity for us to take our place as one of the leading cultural city-regions in the UK.”

Photo – Arts by the Sea Festival: James Bridle.