William Eichler 17 August 2017

Online hub created for councils to share innovative ways to invest in culture

Financially-squeezed councils can now access a specialised online hub designed to help them share innovative ways to invest in culture.

Arts Council England and the Local Government Association (LGA) have teamed up to create Culture Hub: good practice in cultural services, which highlights innovative case studies from councils across the country who have found creative ways to invest in arts and culture.

The hub explores four main themes: value of culture, different delivery models, achieving efficiencies and inspiring leadership.

‘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,’ said Cllr Ian Stephens, chair of the LGA culture, tourism and sport board.

A report published by the Arts Council last year - entitled Funding Arts and Culture in an Age of Austerity - found investment in arts and culture by local authorities had fallen by £236m since 2010.

One of the case studies highlighted on the hub comes from Liverpool. Culture Liverpool employed a commercial and marketing team to build connections across the city. They generated over £6m in cash and in-kind support over four years, which allowed them to support events such as the Liverpool International Music Festival.

Peterborough’s library service is also offered as a good example. The city adjusted it’s library service model through a pioneering use of technology and increased public access to the service by 50%.

‘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,’ said Cllr Stephens.

‘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.’

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.’ 

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