Cultural Compact proposed for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Plans to create a strategic partnership and drive forward an ambitious cultural strategy for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole have been approved by BCP Council’s Cabinet.

Responding to the outcomes of the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Cultural Enquiry in 2019, the council will set up a Cultural Compact – a multi-partner approach to develop and lead the cultural offering across the three towns and to attract future investment.

Initially led by BCP Council the Cultural Compact will be made up of partners across business, health, education and charities as well as the cultural sector. The partnership will drive forward plans around creative education, development and investment in arts and culture, and enable more people of all backgrounds to actively participate in culture.

Specifically, the Cultural Compact will provide an opportunity to engage with communities and groups identified in the Cultural Enquiry 2019 as being under-represented in cultural activity.

The council will invest a three-year funding package starting with £150,000 in 2021/22 to set up and lead the Cultural Compact. Once established it is envisaged that the scheme will begin to develop its own sources of revenue and funding.

Councillor Mohan Iyengar, Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Leisure and Culture, BCP Council, said; “We are committed to driving forward an inclusive strategy for cultural expression across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

“Culture is expressed in the way we live and the things we value. It’s central to health and well-being. It finds a different expression across people who vary in age, background, ethnicity, residence and a multitude of other things. It reflects our diversity and it’s why we must ensure the cultural strategy draws together the many different influences.

“Culture spans across many sectors including education, commercial and tourism. It enables learning opportunities for children and young people, and career development for creatives. It supports thriving commercial enterprises and quality infrastructure. Through the proposed Cultural Compact we have an opportunity to maximise co-ordination of the area’s outstanding natural and built heritage assets to deliver a truly world-class cultural offer for residents and visitors alike.

“By making this initial investment now, in the long term it will support and foster future innovation and investment across our city region maximising the role of culture in placemaking.”

Councillor Drew Mellor, Leader of BCP Council, said; “I am delighted that Cabinet has given approval for a new Cultural Compact to be developed. This is an important piece of work that provides us with a huge opportunity to make culture the defining element of our conurbation. We are committed to inclusivity and how to drive it forward with every resident embracing and engaging with the arts and community events that will come out of the Cultural Compact.

“Culture is central to the identity of our three towns and a key element in the wellbeing of our residents, so it’s important that we progress the findings from the Cultural Enquiry and move them forward into positive outlets for change.”

The plans to develop a Cultural Compact and deliver a Cultural Strategy for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are supported by Arts Council England.

Sarah Crown, Director of Literature and the South West, Arts Council England, said:

“We’re very glad to see BCP Council’s development of a strong Cultural Compact - an initiative designed to drive growth and help culture flourish through stronger, strategic place-based approaches to arts and culture. Recent evaluation has revealed the benefits that Cultural Compacts can have on the social and economic recovery of our towns and cities, which is why we’re delighted to commit ongoing Arts Council investment towards the BCP Cultural Compact.”

Elspeth McBain, Chief Executive, Lighthouse Poole, said; “There is a great deal of cultural excellence and innovation within this region and it is hugely important that we take a strategic joined up approach to developing a cohesive and comprehensive cultural structure to advocate for, develop and promote not only the existing offer, but to drive a new cultural ambition for our communities and take culture to the next level.

“An innovative and bold multi-sector compact for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole will provide the foundations for this work to happen and for a new cultural plan to be created that connects our communities and supports recovery from the impacts of 2020.”

The next steps will see the setting up of the Cultural Compact, including the recruitment of a Board and Chair. The Compact will take forward the recommendations of the Cultural Enquiry and implement its cultural strategy and plan, seeking to ensure all residents have the opportunity to participate and benefit from cultural opportunities.

The cabinet decision is subject to the usual five day constitutional call in process.

Posted on Monday 18 January 2021