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Cultural leaders gather to shape future of North East arts and heritage

Case for Culture, led by the North East Culture Partnership, brings the cultural sector together for economic growth

Statistics from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport show that the creative and heritage sector were worth some £900m to the North East in 2015. The North East’s rich cultural, arts and heritage offer helps bring almost 4 million visitors to the region equating to some £710m in revenue.

It is these sectors that the North East Culture Partnership (NECP) hopes to help grow with its Case For Culture strategy, discussed at a recent gathering of cultural leaders at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle.

On Wednesday 8th November, some 200 members of the creative sectors in the region met to discuss the ways in which the North East can develop more jobs in the arts, heritage and culture sectors, bring more international investment to the region, make arts and culture available to all children and young people and keep our university graduates in the region by offering them opportunities to develop their talent and skillsets.

Dave Budd, Elected Mayor of Middlesbrough and the Co-Chair of NECP, said:
“The sector across the North East is wholly committed to the Case for Culture and many organisations have made great strides over the past two years, in terms of pushing the plan forward. We’ve seen development of international working, the creation of job opportunities and a pledge to provide arts and culture opportunities for our children and young people. What came out of the forum on earlier this month was a positive ambition to grow the arts and heritage offer across the North East.

To help determine what needs to happen next and where the region’s priorities should lie, the North East Culture Partnership brought together the sector in the first of what is hoped to be an annual event.

Matthew Jarratt, NECP Manager said:
“In order to grow the sector, we have developed five working groups tackling each element of the growth strategy with the idea that professionals from around the region will work collaboratively to develop and implement growth strategies within their own organisations; whether that is encouraging more people to attend cultural events, offering specific pro-grammes for children and young people, finding innovative ways to create job opportunities and attract expertise to the region, developing the investment opportunities for overseas businesses in the North East or exporting North East arts, heritage and culture around the world – these five teams will work together under the guidance of NECP to cement the sig-nificance of these industries to our region and find avenues for growth.”

The Case for Culture team and stakeholders will now channel energies into driving contin-ued support for their collective approach; working with other sectors such as education and health; working closely with the two Local Enterprise Partnerships to advocate the role of culture in the wider development of the region; more promotion and showcasing the re-gion’s successes; working collaboratively to get the best out of regional successes such as the Great Exhibition of the North, the Great Places Schemes, Creative Fuse run by the five Universities; and, here’s hoping, the success of Sunderland in the City of Culture bid.

Ross Millard, Sunderland-born musician and member of The Futureheads and Frankie & the Heartstrings said of the event, “As an artist I thought it was valuable having a seat at the table, so as to contribute an individual perspective and gain some insight into where the collective headspace of some of the bigger NE cultural organisations is currently at. Artists are often the link between organisations and audience/participants/communities, so it’s important that we’re part of the conversation in a way that becomes meaningful.”

Following a hugely successful Lumiere in Durham this month, Matthew Jarratt points to the wide-ranging, eclectic and diverse festival offer in the region spanning the next 12 months;

“From Lumiere to Take Off Festival, Hartlepool Waterfront Festival all the way to the Great Exhibition of the North next year, the North East has an enviable cultural calendar. We want to make more people aware of this, both within the region and beyond, bringing more visitors and more investment will shore up the sector for the future.”

The North East Culture Partnership and the Case for Culture were commended by former Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey MP, as examples of how regions and organisations should be working together. NECP and the Case for Culture remain unique across England and help amplify the voice of the north east’s arts and heritage sector in the region and beyond.

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