APPG publishes recommendations to help the North flourish socially and economically through culture 8 Feb 2022

The Northern Culture All-Party Parliamentary Group has published a new report ‘The Case for Culture’ which offers a roadmap towards economic flourishing through better supporting the North’s nascent cultural assets. The report reflects cross party views – with the APPG led by Conservative MP James Daly and Labour MP Julie Elliott – and input from northern stakeholders from cultural leaders to councillors. One respondent told the enquiry: "we need to address cultural value as a whole, broaden the understanding of what type of jobs are available in the North and end the idea that ‘I must move south to be a creative’ and combat the idea that cultural production is ‘not a proper job’”.  Measures proposed in the ten point plan include:

  • Investing in next generation creatives, initially through a creative curriculum from primary school to HE, and reversing cuts to HE creative courses. There would also be measures to stem the ‘brain drain’ of creatives from North to South – ranging from apprenticeships, local skills development and retraining opportunities, and a ‘Great North Skills Survey’ to identify gaps.
  • Recognising that social and physical mobility go hand in hand, and that good transport links allow regions to develop and respond to opportunities.
  • Greater use of strategic partnerships, and cross-sector collaborative R&D so industry, academics and creatives can work side by side.
  • A focus on the link between wellbeing and culture. The report calls for ‘capturing impacts on economic performance, social cohesion and mental health so we can deliver public health targets’.
  • More local leadership, rather than cultural funding and structures coming from Westminster. Many respondents opposed the model of competitive bidding for funds including West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin who calls the process: “a beauty contest where we’re all pitching against each other. The money and time spent in these bids is unfortunately so draining and then when you don’t win there’s nothing.”

Committing to taking forward the report proposals, the writers conclude “this is the ideal time for a new place-based recovery strategy that mobilises culture, co-creation and collaboration to reframe the North as a site of creative production locally, nationally and globally in the 21st century”. Museums Journal, Northern Culture (full report), Taitmail