Culture Minister launches Birmingham Creative City initiative

By on 25/10/2011 in Culture, News

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Culture Minister Ed Vaizey will today urge West Midlands business leaders to invest in creative industries as part of ambitious plans to boost the economy of Greater Birmingham and Solihull.

The Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries will launch 'Creative City' - a groundbreaking Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) project aiming to secure investment for cultural and creative activities.

And, Chair of the LEP, Andy Street, will unveil how the fund could support the creation of a new museum quarter in the city's Eastside and the area's growing creative businesses through improved infrastructure and support.

Bringing together partners from the public and private sector, Creative City is one of the first major initiatives of the LEP which aims to increase the area’s economic output (GVA) by 30% (£8.25 billion) and create 100,000 private sector jobs by 2020.

The Creative City initiative will play a significant role by:

  • Creating a fund to build on existing public sector funding of the arts through loans, grants, match-funding and investments. The allocation of funds will be based on the potential for job creation and economic growth.
  • Outlining the vision for a new 'museum quarter', including a new museum of photography and the development of a new contemporary art gallery.
  • Exploring ways to unlock private sector and philanthropic support for culture, linking cultural development to wider economic growth.

Ed Vaizey said: “I welcome this initiative by Birmingham City Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership, which will bring the support and enthusiasm of the private sector and the cultural public sector into a closer partnership. What is new here is the commitment of the LEP to integrate culture and the creative industries into its economic strategy, in partnership with the City Council and Birmingham's cultural organisations.”

Chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, Andy Street believes the creative and cultural sectors have a major role to play in driving economic growth.

He added: “We want to create an environment which attracts businesses to invest here and existing ones to grow. Having a world-class cultural and creative offer is key to achieving this. Creative City is about building on all the assets that currently exist and multiplying the effect of our investments by working together.”
Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Transport, Environment and Regeneration, Cllr Timothy Huxtable, is seeking to identify £5 million for a fund and believes investment in the creative sector is vital to the city's economic regeneration.

He said: “The art sector alone is worth £270 million and 9,000 jobs to the economy, whilst the creative and cultural industries together are worth a staggering £660m, employing 19,000 people. Now the aim is to co-ordinate public sector and private sector spend to further boost the economy and make our city an increasingly attractive place to live and work.”


Notes to editors

Birmingham's Cultural sector is already well developed. It is the only English City outside the capital to have a truly world class symphony orchestra, ballet company, opera company and producing theatre, and has one of the world's best concert halls and one of the oldest, and the UK's busiest theatre. Its museums host 1m visits each year, placing them in the top 40 in the world (the art gallery houses the largest collection of pre-Raphaelite art in the world, as well as the Anglo Saxon Staffordshire Hoard).

The new Library of Birmingham is due to open in 2013. Many of the smaller arts companies (eg Stan's Cafe, Sonia Sabri Dance, Punch) are also internationally renowned and, together with niche festivals (eg Fierce, Supersonic, Jazz Festival, Flatpack and the biennial International Dance Festival) and creative SMEs (eg digital media, gaming and jewellery), create opportunities to work increasingly across the subsidised and commercial sectors.

In 2008-09 Birmingham arts sector turnover was £78m, £12.5m was spent with local suppliers, 9,000 people were employed (70% of them residents of the city) and the sector contributed £271m to the local economy. 3.3m attend events each year and culture generates 9% of the region's GVA.

Birmingham City Council has consistently invested in the cultural sector.

  • Recognising its importance to developing Birmingham's reputation and making the city attractive to businesses keen to source and retain a skilled workforce.
  • Realising its ability to attract visitors to the city and the consequent contribution to the local economy.
    Valuing its effect on the quality of life for residents of the city and the associated social impacts – quality of life is in the top three factors for business location decisions.
  • Now the aim is to create the concept of Birmingham as a Creative City, which will bring together all of these elements and form a focus for joint working in the future.

The Creative City initiative aims to:

  • Develop a model which brings together key policy ideas - Big Society/Philanthropy, LEPs/sustainable models for culture, Community Budgeting/Localism and can be used elsewhere.
  • Co-ordinate spending on culture in Birmingham across the public sector increasing efficiency and building the capacity of the sector to address local issues.
  • Lever money and influence from other bodies including the LEP and philanthropic giving to support the growth of the cultural sector.
  • Integrate the strategic development of the cultural sector with the emerging economic strategy for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull area, bringing private sector partners to the table.
  • Support the development of Birmingham’s cultural infrastructure, including the Ikon’s vision for a new contemporary art museum.

The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership was set up in October 2010 to help strengthen local economies, encourage economic development and enterprise, and improve skills across the region.

The Partnership was initially formed of Birmingham and Solihull, with East Staffordshire, Lichfield and Tamworth, and was subsequently joined by Bromsgrove, Cannock Chase, and more recently Redditch and Wyre Forest. The Partnership is now one of the largest in the country, encompassing a population of over two million people, and 840,000 jobs.

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £0.85 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

Catalyst Arts is one of the ways in which Arts Council England will use its Lottery income in flexible ways to support its Grant in aid investment. The strategic use of Lottery funds will help the Arts Council realise the goals set out in Achieving great art for everyone – its ten-year strategic framework for the arts.

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported more than 30,000 projects, allocating £4.7bn across the UK. Website:

HLF’s commitment to the Catalyst programme followed a strategic consultation early this year which widely endorsed proposals for giving more support to help organisations build their financial resilience and engage more with private giving. HLF is currently developing the detail of proposals for a new strategy to be launched in April 2012, covering the period from 2013 onwards.

DCMS provides funding for the arts in England, sets arts policy and supports arts based initiatives, often in partnership with other government departments. DCMS funding is distributed through Arts Council England, which make all funding decisions at ‘arm’s length’ from Government. DCMS is also responsible for ensuring that the historic environment of England is properly protected and conserved for the benefit of present and future generations. The department funds English Heritage, the Government’s statutory advisor on the historic environment, and the largest source of non-lottery grant funding for heritage assets.

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