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Milton Keynes’ 2012 Summer of Culture brings arts, culture and £6.4m to the city

  • Date: 12 February 2013
  • Artform: All, Combined arts, Dance, Literature, Museums, Music, Theatre, Visual arts
  • Area: South East
IF: Milton Keynes International Festival 2012 IF: Milton Keynes International Festival 2012, Shaun Armstrong:

An economic impact study of a cultural programme launched in Milton Keynes in 2012 shows how arts, heritage, sports and cultural collaboration can reap economic and social benefits.

Summer of Culture was a new approach to promoting the city as a world class destination, attracting new audiences and offering the city a coherent offer. It saw the city's leading organisations and Milton Keynes Council come together for the first time, using London 2012 and the Cultural Olympiad as a focus for the hundreds of events that took place across the city's public spaces..

The innovative programme was underpinned with a £96,587 Arts Council England National Lottery funded Grants for the arts award, an open application scheme that supports activities to engage people in the arts and helps artists and arts organisations with their work.

A survey into the Summer of Culture's first year shows that the approach succeeded in changing perceptions of the city as a place for arts and culture and demonstrated the intrinsic social and economic impacts of its cultural offer: it generated jobs, developed local people's skills, created new opportunities and brought spend into the city. 

Statistics and figures

Milton Keynes £1.2 million Summer of Culture programme attracted over 231,000 people - 52% of audiences interviewed said they made their first visit to a cultural event this year during the Summer of Culture.

The programme brought an estimated gross income of £6.4million to the city (£4.9m after allowing for additionality), safeguarded 58 jobs in the arts and culture sector and created 675 new posts and creative opportunities. Over the summer, audiences spent a total £4.7 million in the city and participating event organisers spent £1.6million on goods and services.

The Summer of Culture aimed to see Milton Keynes 'flourish with artistic energy', which the programme accomplished, with 32 premieres and commissions that brought international and culturally diverse artists to Milton Keynes, boosting creativity and innovation.

The study found that 68% of those who attended events now have a more positive view of culture in Milton Keynes. 82% agreed that 'Milton Keynes is a good place for events and festivals', while 81% agreed' that 'this event has made me more likely to attend similar events in Milton Keynes in the future'.

2012 Programme

Just a few of the events that took place in 2012 include:

Partners included Milton Keynes Council, Festive Road, The Stables, MK Gallery, MK Parks Trust, Destination MK, Independent Cinema MK, Arts & Heritage Alliance, and Heritage Consortium.

Successful initiative

A key to the success of Summer of Culture was local authority support, leadership and initial investment which levered in additional funds and the Arts Council's support for the unified approach towards arts and cultural regeneration.

Sally Abbott, Regional Director, Arts Council England says: 'The successes of Milton Keynes' Summer of Culture shows once again how arts and culture can really lead the way in making our UK towns and cities more exciting.

'We are delighted to see our National Lottery funded Grants for the arts scheme reaching so many people and engaging them in the best that the arts have to offer. We hope more cities try to work in this way, which can make a huge impact on people's enjoyment of arts, culture and create pride in the places they live.'

Councillor David Hopkins, Milton Keynes Council Cabinet member responsible for the local economy in Milton Keynes, said: 'It’s a simple equation – if you make a place more lively, interesting, colourful and fun to be then you will doubtless attract more people to visit - who perhaps end up living there - with the ongoing positive knock-on effect for the local economy.

'We now know from the Summer of Culture Impact study that our inspiring, original and diverse events in 2012 increased inward investment, community engagement and raised the profile of Milton Keynes.  This important evidence will help build the case for cultural activity into the future.'

Plans are currently underway to produce the 2013 Summer of Culture from late June to mid-September under the banner of 'Made in MK'. Organisers are planning to make the celebration a yearly feature.

For more information about 2013 Milton Keynes Summer of Culture, see the evaluation report: For more information about our Grants for the arts scheme, see