Illuminating the Yorkshire Coast to Inspire Economic Growth
Image: Richard Burdon/discoveryorkshirecoast.com
”IT can be difficult to show the direct economic benefits of investing in cultural assets compared to a large commercial development for example, but the role of culture in regenerating an area undoubtedly can be significant.
Close to home, it has been clear to see during Hull UK City of Culture 2017, with hundreds of thousands of people – both residents and visitors – experiencing new and exciting cultural events throughout the year. We wait with interest to see the effect that this has had on the economy of Hull, but there can be no disputing that the city has regularly hit the headlines for all the right reasons as a result.
Further afield, there are many examples of cultural regeneration which often include the development of creative industries as a means of re-invigorating run down areas giving them new purpose and focus, attracting new business, residents and visitors, all helping to boost the local economy. Sheffield is a good example within the Yorkshire region.
In our Local Enterprise Partnership area, we have also seen the beneficial effects on the local economy of cultural projects. In Bridlington, The Spa entertainment venue saw a major re-development project completed by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council in 2008, and over the last ten years has grown its business against tricky economic conditions. It has moved its operational costs into the black, as well as bringing over £10 million a year into the local economy, generated by the events that take place there, many bringing staying visitors into the town and extending the traditionally short “summer season”.
Also on the Yorkshire Coast, the digital and creative sector has grown significantly around investment in the Woodend Creative Business Centre in Scarborough, which is committed to assisting and supporting the growth of the creative industries and supporting cultural regeneration. But more of that later.
In the autumn this year, The Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund was launched in advance of the 2018 Great Exhibition of the North to be held in 2018, , to showcase the best of northern art, design and innovation. The Government will fund this £5 million immersive free exhibition, which will engage communities and businesses from across the region, and promote the bustling and thriving area to the world.
In addition, the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund will see a further £15 million of Government funds, providing a fantastic chance for towns and cities across the Northern Powerhouse to develop inspirational projects that could have a transformative local effect – particularly in communities that have seen less cultural or creative investment in the past than other locations. All eleven Local Enterprise Partnerships from across the Northern Powerhouse Region have been invited to bid for a share of the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund, and in the York North Yorkshire East Riding area, six projects have been narrowed down to one bid to go forward. Our bid is for “Constellations: Illuminating the Yorkshire Coast”, and it originated from the Scarborough Creative Driver Partnership, which is made up of a number of cultural organisations in the area.
“Constellations” will see landmark light installations in the six towns along the Yorkshire Coast – Whitby, Scarborough, Filey, Bridlington, Hornsea and Withernsea. The project aims to raise aspiration, pride and visibility as well as strengthening communities and providing cultural activity for people in places of least engagement – one of the primary requirements of the competition. If the bid is successful, leading specialists will work with communities to develop concepts and deliver ambitious installations, festivals and temporary light sculptures, which will interact with communities in the local area. The project also includes a business support theme, to strengthen the creative industries sector along the Yorkshire Coast in terms of jobs and enterprise opportunities – all key aims of the Local Enterprise Partnership’s Yorkshire Coast Growth Plan.
The Government’s new Industrial Strategy White Paper acknowledges that strong local economies around the world have key attributes, one of which is an attractive cultural environment. In addition, there is a focus on the potential growth of creative industries, through “Sector Deals” based on the recommendations of Sir Peter Bazalgette’s recent Review of Creative Industries Report. As a major employer and generator of rapid business growth this is welcome news for the creative sector, and for our local economy.
“Constellations” will reposition the Yorkshire Coast and in particular its towns, as attractive places to live and work, capitalising on the recent and future growth potential for incoming industry and business, particularly in the creative and cultural sector. A vibrant and visible cultural offer is critical to making a compelling case for enterprise, inward investment and making great places – which we know the Yorkshire Coast already is – even greater. If “Constellations” captures the imagination of the Government’s decision makers for the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund, it will put the Yorkshire Coast in a whole new light and give a boost to its economic regeneration that the area truly deserves”.
By Richard Shaw, Board Member at the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership and Chair of the constellations bid.