Councils across the country are backing the creative industries to help drive economic recovery in local areas, despite significant funding pressures.
Creativity is what binds communities together.
Cultural and creative activities have kept people occupied and connected during lockdown – from e-books, digital exhibitions and streamed theatre shows to crafts activities and community singing, the crisis has demonstrated how important culture can be in supporting mental wellbeing.
Creativity also has a vital role in affecting how a place defines itself and is seen by outsiders. People like living in places with a thriving creative and cultural life.
So, it’s not surprising that councils of all shapes and sizes have been considering how they can support the local creative economy for the benefit of their communities.
Some are developing wide-ranging strategies, while others are making smaller, more targeted interventions.
“People like living in places with a thriving creative and cultural life”
The LGA has called on the Government to support this work by ensuring councils retain the planning powers they need to curate their communities and grow their local economies.
They have also published a guide to help councils learn from best practice when looking to implement new creative economic strategies that will lead to positive results.
Illustrated by examples and case studies, and with tips from councils across England and the sector, we believe the measures outlined in this guide are vital to supporting what is an incredibly important asset to our local economies and communities.
Creativity and culture have a huge role to play in social innovation, helping councils – and other parts of the community, voluntary, third and public sectors – co-create with communities a vision for the future of their local area and everyone’s role in its ‘new normal’.
Examples of councils taking supportive action for the creative industries include communities in Greater Manchester that have come together to support their creative economy, coordinated by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).
Launched at the beginning of April 2020, the United We Stream project raised £260,000 in 30 days, with all proceeds going to the city region’s night-time economy, cultural organisations and charities.
The wider economy needs to innovate fast, and commercial innovation requires creativity in inventing new products and services, and new ways to promote, deliver and monetise them. It also benefits from unique ideas, knowledge and creative assets, in which the cultural sector is very rich.
Before the pandemic, the creative industries were one of the fastest-growing sectors, contributing £111 billion to the UK economy in 2018. More than two million people work in the UK’s creative industries and, before the COVID-19 crisis, the sector was projected to create another million jobs by 2030.
As we move into the recovery phase, we must harness the creativity and innovation inherent in the sector to take on the challenges of a post-COVID world, generating jobs and investment in local economies.
If we value the sector, we must all work together to secure its future.