New report highlights economic benefits of vibrant cultural scene as planning continues for Leeds 2023

Council bosses in Leeds have welcomed a major new report that pinpoints people’s love of the arts as a key driver of future economic growth for the UK’s cities.

Tuesday, 5th February 2019, 5:00 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 4:33 pm
Dazzling activity during last years Light Night event in Leeds, which had Leeds 2023 as its headline partner.

An independent enquiry has been running since March last year to try to identify ways to maintain the vibrant state of the country’s cultural life in the face of reductions in public funding.

And today the Cultural Cities Enquiry board – which includes leading figures from the creative industries as well as the worlds of property, design and higher education – delivered its findings.

Key recommendations in the board’s report include:

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* The creation of Cultural City Compacts, new bodies that would bring together partners from the arts, business, education and local government with a view to making “best use” of a city’s available resources;

* Maximising the potential of what the report calls “cultural property assets” to revive high streets and city centres;

* The launch of “corporate social venture funds” to encourage investment in cultural and creative organisations.

The report’s publication comes amid ongoing preparations for Leeds 2023, a year-long arts festival devised after the Brexit-related scuppering of the city’s European Capital of Culture dream.

Coun Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “In Leeds we are huge advocates for the unique power which culture and the arts have to engage, unite and inspire people from across all our communities.

“The growing passion Leeds has for culture has been there for all to see through our plans to deliver a major culture festival in 2023, which has already served to bring together business and communities alongside the education and culture sectors.

“Quite simply, we believe cities which invest in culture are investing in their own future, providing a catalyst for more jobs, growth and tourism and in turn making their cities more attractive places to live, work and visit.

“We hope this report can now kickstart a national conversation and help cities to work together to ensure our cultural communities flourish and become the cornerstones of our local, regional and national economies.”

The Cultural Cities Enquiry found that public investment in culture fell by 11 per cent between 2012/13 and 2016/17.