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Fenland named as a priority for the arts and culture in the East of England



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Fenland is to be the focus of a new plan to bring more arts and culture to 54 priority communities following an announcement by Arts Council England.

Arts Council England has announced today (Thursday) that Fenland will be a priority place to focus on as part of the publication of its three-year Delivery Plan for 2021 - 2024.

Arts Council England’s three-year Delivery Plan sets out a detailed roadmap to implement the vision of their strategy Let's Create: by 2030 England will be a country in which the creativity of each individual is valued and given the chance to flourish, and where everyone has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences.

The Arts Council will be working to build on work of local libraries and museums like Wisbech and Fenland Museum which regularly holds events.
The Arts Council will be working to build on work of local libraries and museums like Wisbech and Fenland Museum which regularly holds events.

The Delivery Plan highlights where there are opportunities for investment, collaboration, and progress.

The publication of the Delivery Plan follows the Government’s unprecedented £1.96 billion Culture Recovery Fund, administered by the Arts Council and other bodies. Driven by the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, who was replaced in the role yesterday (Wednesday) by Nadine Dorries, with the backing of Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the Culture Recovery Fund is the biggest one-off investment in culture from the Government in history, providing a vital lifeline to save our cultural sector and help organisations prepare for reopening.

The strategy was written just before the pandemic, but the vision still holds true and if anything is even more critical now. Creativity and culture can, and should, play a part in helping level up the country.

The Arts Council will be working to build on work of local libraries and museums with organisations such as March-based 20Twenty Productions headed by Katherine Nightingale.
The Arts Council will be working to build on work of local libraries and museums with organisations such as March-based 20Twenty Productions headed by Katherine Nightingale.

To help make this vision a reality the Delivery Plan names 54 priority places across England. The Arts Council will work closely with these locations to develop new opportunities for investment, both from the Arts Council and other partners.

Across the East of England from Great Yarmouth to Luton, Peterborough to Basildon, and Tendring to Fenland, priority places recognises the need for cultural investment, and it will give more people the opportunity to enjoy excellent cultural experiences in their communities and neighbourhoods.

Fenland’s highly rural nature and low cultural engagement means that there is a significant opportunity for the Arts Council to work with local stakeholders to develop vital cultural opportunities for local communities, particularly among children and young people.

The Arts Council will be working to build on work of local libraries and museums like March Library which recently celebrated its 21st birthday.
The Arts Council will be working to build on work of local libraries and museums like March Library which recently celebrated its 21st birthday.

The Arts Council will work with ambitious local partners, such as the Local Culture Education Partnership, Market Place, 20Twenty Productions and Fenland District Council, to build on the work of local libraries, museums and cultural organisations – helping to create more opportunities for artists and communities alike.

Organisations in Fenland were awarded more than £220,000 through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

These places have been chosen through a set of criteria based on a review of current public investment and opportunities to engage with creative and cultural activity. Each of the priority places are ambitious to drive positive change through culture.

In the last decade, the Arts Council has significantly shifted its investment outside of London. The aim in Let’s Create is to increase focus on specific places underserved in the past.

Priority places are just one of the ways in which the Arts Council are committed to levelling up by strengthening cultural and creativity opportunities in a targeted way.

Investment will increase in a range of other locations through Arts Council’s own programmes such as Creative People and Places (budget for 2021-22 £23 million), the new Place Partnership fund (budget for 2021-22 £7 million), and the Government funding streams that Arts Council support: UK City of Culture (the City of Coventry has received nearly £21 million for 2021), and the Stronger Towns Fund (£1.6 billion fund from 2019 to 2026).

Darren Henley, chief executive, Arts Council England, said: “Artists, arts organisations, museums and libraries have found creative new ways to serve their audiences and communities since the start of the pandemic.

"Our new Delivery Plan shows how we’ll work with them to build on that spirit of imagination and innovation as our society reopens. It’s particularly exciting to be focusing on our 54 priority places over the coming years, as part of the Arts Council’s commitment to play its part in delivering on the government’s programme of levelling up. We’re looking forward to nurturing dynamic new partnerships with local people and organisations in each of these locations.”

Hazel Edwards, south east area director, Arts Council England, said: “Our priority places approach provides a vital recognition that there are places across the country with huge ambition to embrace everything that culture can offer, but need more than just funding to make that happen.

"Through working strategically with local partners, we can bring them together and support them as they develop the local cultural infrastructure, which will in turn create vital opportunities for both artists and local communities.

"This work takes time and by establishing Fenland as a Priority Place, we’re committing our time and expertise to work hand-in-hand with them as they develop their cultural offering and identity.”

Councillor Chris Seaton, Fenland’s portfolio holder for social mobility and heritage said: “Being named as a Priority Place is a fantastic opportunity and an exciting privilege for Fenland, especially as we continue to recover from the pandemic which hit the cultural sector hard. There is a lot of opportunity, diversity, and talent in our district, and this will help to maximise its potential.

"The additional funding and support from Arts Council England will strengthen our arts provision, helping local artists and cultural organisations to reach new audiences and encouraging more people to enjoy the arts and cultural experiences available on their doorstep.”



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