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Civic leadership, partnerships and initiatives that make a difference

  • Date: 19 May 2014
  • Artform: All
  • Area: North
In Harmony In Harmony, Mark McNulty

Successful partnerships with local authorities and other organisations in cities like Liverpool and Durham are vital in delivering the Arts Council's mission of Great art and culture for everyone.   

Civic leaders in places like Liverpool and Durham understand that the arts are key to a community's well-being and prosperity. As well as lending support to the five goals through which the Arts Council strives to achieve its mission, such enlightened leadership has relevance to one particular goal: through Goal 4 we seek to ensure that the leadership and workforce in the arts, museums and libraries are diverse and appropriately skilled.

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Liverpool: culture as rocket fuel

We have worked with Liverpool City Council to jointly invest more than £14 million a year in Liverpool's arts sector. At a difficult time for the city we have helped them to maintain their investment, and to lever the investment to develop a significant cultural and arts scene. The Capital of Culture in 2008 was a catalyst for the city and enabled it to make the most of its cultural richness.

Culture remains very much at the heart of the city's policies today. In his introduction to Liverpool City Council' s Culture Action Plan 2014/18, the city's first elected Mayor Joe Anderson speaks of having  'great ambition for this city, and culture to me is the rocket fuel for its continuing regeneration.'

Current examples of the difference the co-operation between Liverpool City Council and the Arts Council makes within the city include:

  • The imminent refurbishment of the Grade II*- listed Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Through our Capital investment programme Arts Council England has awarded £7.5 million towards the £12 million refurbishment, and Liverpool City Council has also approved a £2 million capital contribution
  • The impact which In Harmony Liverpool - part of the national music and education programme - is having on children's musical achievement, wellbeing, personal, social and emotional development, family relationships, school culture and the community of West Everton where it is based. In Harmony Liverpool is supported by Arts Council England and run by Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (RLPO) and local partners

It is not surprising that RLPO is at the centre of key developments within the city. Michael Eakin, the Chief Executive of the Liverpool Philharmonic, is an important player not only in his own organisation but also within the city. The Liverpool Post Leaders Awards recognised this in 2013 when he was awarded not only the title of Cultural Leader of the Year, but was also named Liverpool City Region Leader of the Year.

Cultural networks LARC and COoL help Merseyside's regeneration

The partnership between the Arts Council and Liverpool City Council has supported and encouraged the growth of culture sector led networks and leadership in the city such as LARC (Liverpool Arts Regeneration Consortium) and COol (Creative Organisations of Liverpool) - a similar consortium for small/medium-scale arts organisations in Liverpool.

LARC is an alliance of seven of the city's major cultural organisations:  FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Tate Liverpool, the Bluecoat and Unity Theatre.

The consortium's current impact is demonstrated by an impressive array of statistics for 2011/12:

  • The seven LARC organisations together attracted £32 million of new money into Liverpool city region. They had a total turnover of £26.2 million and increased every £1 of public investment by 112 per cent with income from other sources. For every £1 of Liverpool City Council investment they attracted £7.65 of income from other sources
  • Across the seven organisations there were 1,278 performances, exhibitions and events. Some 449,000 tickets were sold, helping to bring in £7.3 million in cash and 4.3 million visitors
  • LARC represents 530 permanent staff, supports 1,052 full time jobs in the Liverpool city region and offers opportunities for 881volunteers
  • Between them the seven organisations delivered 6,068 workshops and educational sessions with nearly 120,000 participants
  • Investment in the various LARC organisations also establishes important international connections not only for Liverpool but for the UK as a whole. Recent LARC international connections include the Everyman Playhouse exporting major productions to Russia, Ireland, Australia and the USA

The Arts Council is currently supporting several LARC projects:

  • We have awarded over £90,000 to Flux Liverpool - a pioneering arts festival engineered by young people aged 14-25, which runs from 17 July-2 August 2014
  • We awarded £316,500 from our Cultural Destinations programme to enable LARC to work with Liverpool City Council,Liverpool City Region LEP and other visitor economy organisations in the City to identify new ways of using the existing arts and culture offer to support the business tourism agenda
  • Since the Liverpool Creative Apprenticeship Scheme began in 2007, 24 separate organisations covering the public, private and voluntary sectors have recruited a total of 34 apprentices. Now LARC has attracted £78,500 in funding from our Creative Employment Programme against a commitment to deliver, working in partnershipwith Liverpool City Council, Arts Council England and Creative and Cultural Skills,18 apprenticeships and 17 internships over the next two years

Durham County Council leads the way with a cultural agenda

Durham County Council is another local authority which sees the importance of investing in culture in a tough economic climate. Led by Councillor Simon Henig, who is also Labour's lead councillor for Culture, Tourism and Sport for the Local Government Association, it supports a wide programme of cultural events and festivals to stimulate the county's economy. Their Year of Culture 2013 brought in excess of £30 million into the region.

Highlights included:

  • Lindisfarne Gospels Durham: a sell-out exhibition staged on Durham's World Heritage Site in Durham University's Palace Green Library. A unique partnership with the British Library saw the Lindisfarne Gospels return to the North East and displayed in context with a number of other gospels for the first time
  • The Arts Council-supported Brass:Durham International Festival in 2013 involved 300 acclaimed artists performing at 69 events in 26 venues. It was worth £1 million to the local economy. The 2014 festival runs from 11-14 July
  • In 2013 the light festival Lumiere entertained 175,000 people over four evenings and attracted £4.3 million into County Durham's economy