New resource to help councils on a tight budget invest in culture

Arts Council England and the LGA have developed their first ever online resource to help councils develop innovative ways to invest in culture, even where financial resources are under pressure.

Sector-led improvement

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Arts Council England and the Local Government Association have developed their first ever online resource to help councils develop innovative ways to invest in culture, even where financial resources are under pressure.

The Culture Hub: good practice in cultural services highlights interesting and innovative case studies from councils across the country who have found creative ways to invest in arts and culture. It’s a great resource for councils which want to use culture to drive tourism and regeneration, or create stronger communities, as they can see how others have addressed similar challenges. Examples include:

The team at Culture Liverpool employed a commercial and marketing team to build connections across the city and generate income and generated over £6 million in cash and in-kind support over four years. They were able to support events like Liverpool International Music Festival and the Mersey River Festival.

In Peterborough, the city’s library service adjusted its model through a pioneering use of technology and increased public access to the service by 50 per cent, while in North Kesteven, the community came together to support the design and refurbishment of two leisure centres that led to a 162% increase in participation.

The Culture Hub will be continually updated, to provide on-going support to those planning cultural services within councils and to build a database of experience and learning that helps improve practice across the board.

Councils are still the biggest funder of arts and culture in England. Over decades they have invested in culture to drive a better quality of life for their residents. But councils across the country are facing difficult decisions - and this is increasing the pressure on vital budgets for arts and culture.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, said: “Where councils choose to continue to invest in arts and culture, they can achieve great things. Many local authorities face tough decisions right now, when public finances are tight. But at the Arts Council, we’re clear in backing the ambition of those councils who invest in culture, or which find innovative new models for developing the future of arts and culture in their villages, towns and cities. The new Culture Hub and our work with the LGA is just one way, as the nation’s cultural development agency, we’re helping England’s artists, arts organisations, museums and libraries to continue to thrive.”

Cllr Ian Stephens, Chair of the LGA Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: “Councils have continued to face budget reductions and this has placed increasing pressures on continuing to deliver effective services, but councils continue to take a lead in developing innovative ways to provide excellent cultural services.

“The case studies show how cultural activity contributes to every single one of councils’ priority corporate objectives, such as improving health and wellbeing and economic regeneration. They demonstrate how hard councils are working with their partners to come up with different ways to deliver their cultural services, whether through direct work, commissioning services or Trust models.

“I congratulate my colleagues on their inspirational work and am eager to see what they have planned next.”

Join the conversation: Use the hashtag #culturematters, and our Twitter cards.

Notes to editors
The Culture Hub is comprised of case studies exploring four main themes: Value of culture, Different delivery models, Achieving efficiencies and Inspiring leadership.

A 2016 report produced by the Arts Council in conjunction with the New Local Government Network found local authority investment in arts/culture had declined by £236 million, 17% since 2010. 

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 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.