Written evidence submitted by Bectu Union

 

Reimagining where we live: cultural placemaking and the levelling up agenda

 

Submission by Bectu to the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

17th February 2022

www.bectu.org.uk

 

Introduction

Bectu is the leading trade union for the creative industries with over 30,000 members. Our members work in non-performance roles in live events, broadcasting, film and cinema, digital media, independent production, leisure, theatre and the arts. Bectu is a sector of Prospect Trade Union.

Bectu members working in the creative industries may be staff, contract or freelance workers – with the latter category growing fast as the workforce in these industries becomes increasingly self-employed. We have long fought for better working conditions in the creative industries and will continue to campaign tirelessly to better the working lives of our members. Our work throughout the pandemic has been more important than ever and we have consistently dedicated ourselves to supporting the creative industries through this turbulent time.

As an experienced campaigning union that represents workers across all sectors of the creative industries, we welcome the Committee’s inquiry and the opportunity to demonstrate what culture can do for the levelling up agenda.

Summary

Culture can play an essential role in levelling up the country: creating places that people love to live in, restoring our high streets and generating highly skilled, good jobs. The creative industries make an invaluable contribution to both the economic and social fabric of the UK, growing at twice the rate of the UK economy as a whole prior to the pandemic[1], and British creative content continues to entertain, inspire and inform millions at home and abroad.

To establish the cultural industries within the levelling up agenda, Government and industry must create the right conditions to improve funding for arts and culture across the country. Alongside fair and equal distribution of arts and entertainment initiatives, the skillset of the UK’s highly acclaimed creative workforce can enable the Government to level up the country.

The pandemic inflicted great suffering on the UK’s cultural sector, hitting it eight times as hard as the economy as a whole and leaving thousands of workers without jobs and income.

Bectu’s ‘One Year On’ campaign surveyed almost 4,000 creative workers and found that 92% of them had seen their income fall since the start of the pandemic, with 48% losing over half of their income. Additionally, the shutdown of the creative industries gave workers the time to assess how working conditions in the industry, including the long hours culture and poor terms and conditions, affect their day-to-day lives.

For culture to make its full contribution to the levelling up agenda, the long-term future of this industry must be safeguarded by improving these working conditions to ensure better recruitment and retention of skilled talent. Government and industry need to invest in skills across the UK’s nations and regions to secure the UK’s place as a leading global hub of creativity.

 

 

How can culture reanimate our public spaces and shopping streets?

Many once proud and bustling city and town centres have struggled to fill the lots on their shopping streets since the 2007 financial crisis. The rise of online shopping has left physical retail businesses facing fierce competitive pressure on price and convenience, and these challenges have only been compounded by the Covid-19 lockdowns that saw non-essential retail closed for several months over the past two years.

Culture has an enormous role to play in reanimating our public spaces and shopping streets, but to play this role fully, it must have a voice in decision-making around local placemaking rather than being an afterthoughtand be supported by long-term investment at a local level.

Since the easing of Covid restrictions last summer, local events such as festivals, concerts and gigs have resumed, paving the path to normality both for the one million people working in the live events industries and people across the country who enjoy them. Events such as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Leeds and Reading festivals, the Euros Semi-Final in Wembley, and Mamma Mia in the West End, brought the country back to life out of lockdown and reanimated public spaces across the UK. Having been kept apart for so long, people loved coming together to celebrate shared cultural moments, showing how culture can be a driver of the UK’s post-pandemic recovery and levelling up the country.

Local culture and economies don’t exist in silos. They are part of a cultural ecosystem that contributes almost £13 million to the UK economy every hour[2] and employs over 2 million people[3] across every nation and region. Theatres and live events venues in towns and cities attract visitors for shows, who make an occasion of the evening and provide business for local restaurants, bars and hotels, pumping money into local economies and supporting local jobs. Local cultural venues act as a hub on the high street, reinvigorating the night life of cities and towns post-Covid.

There are existing initiatives that support culture at a local level, such as Tracey Brabin’s West Yorkshire Culture, Arts and Creative Industries Committee. As a former actor, the Mayor of West Yorkshire has championed the creative industries and established the Committee to support cultural activities in West Yorkshire. The Committee will oversee the delivery of a ‘Creative New Deal’ supported by £500,000 of funding for projects such as teaming up with the British Film Institute (BFI) to find a location for a Film Studio of the North[4]. Rolling this kind of committee out across the UK’s metro mayoralties would help to support local cultural activity and keep the creative industries high on the agenda for local political leaders.

Empty lots on high streets could be used – temporarily or permanently – as gallery spaces or for art installations and small cultural or community projects, swapping boarded up shopfronts for colourful creative venues.

For example, a vacant unit in the Merseyway shopping centre in Stockport has been transformed into a social enterprise providing photography workshops for teenagers, investing in the skills of under-represented groups[5]. Since its opening in 2019, the workshop has supported vulnerable people in the community such as those with disabilities or who are socially excluded.

In North Somerset, a former shop has been turned into a vibrant community centre, Weston Artspace, which has brought together local artists and creatives[6]. This is an effective way of supporting local cultural talent and harnessing it to reanimate our public spaces and shopping streets, making town centres “places to be”.

Preventing our existing cultural venues from becoming shuttered up relics of the past is critical to reanimating our town centres. Live music venues have closed in recent years, and the onset of Covid-19 put 50% of music events and 70% of theatres at risk of permanent closure[7]. Supporting these institutions to thrive can help to halt and reverse the decline of our public spaces and shopping streets, making our town centres places that people love to live in and visit.

 

How can creatives contribute to local decision-making and planning of place?

For culture to maximise its impact on local place-making and help level up the country, workers and employers in the creative industries need to be involved in local decision-making. But a seat at the table is not enough – culture can only help to create wonderful places with adequate funding in place.

Budget cuts to local authorities since 2010 have had a serious impact on local cultural projects, with local government leaders cutting back on cultural offerings to maintain statutory services. Across the country, more than £236 million was cut from culture budgets from 2010 to 2016[8].

Peterborough City Council, for example, has cut its budget for arts, museums, libraries and an archaeological site by £1.4m this year[9]. In its 2022/23 Medium Term Financial Plan, the council sets out that it ‘may have to stop providing non-statutory services, because [it] simply cannot afford to do so[10]. The council also proposes to halve the funding it provides to City Culture Peterborough to run cultural attractions including the Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery[11].

Council leader Wayne Fitzgerald puts the challenge facing local authorities across the country simply: “Culture is a big drain on our budget – it is a nice thing to have but it is not statutory [12]. So long as culture is treated by central government as a ‘nice to have’ rather than a valued part of the economy and an essential part of a good life, local culture budgets will continue to bear the brunt of cuts to public spending. 

Similarly, recent months have seen funding cuts to cultural projects that establish artistic infrastructure, such as the BFI Young Audiences Content Fund. The fund gave young people across the UK the opportunity to watch and engage with original UK educational and entertaining programming on free-to-access channels and platforms. It supported the UK’s thriving production community, enabling 144 projects to go into development and gave the green light to 55 brand new programmes, such as Teen First Dates and The World According to Grandpa. It has also supported projects in Scottish Gaelic for BBC Alba and in Welsh. These productions and critically acclaimed projects would have been unlikely to happen without the Fund, which has encouraged creativity within the UK broadcasting industry.

More involvement for creative industries in local decision-making and place-making will be a helpful first step in properly recognising the contribution culture makes to the national and regional economies and how it enriches our lives. This requires decision-making at a local level in the first place, with more decisions made by those with an understanding of the local economy and cultural industries, rather than in London. The devolved nations’ response to the pandemic provides some lessons in making the most of industry expertise. In the early months of the pandemic, Bectu was involved in delivering government funds and grants to creative institutions and freelance workers in Scotland and consulted by the Welsh Government on the design of relevant support schemes.

In Wales, this led to Creative Wales expanding its offer to include new support schemes for independent production companies, as well as games, animation, digital agencies and creative digital businesses.

In Scotland, we worked with the Scottish Government to ensure three separate strands of funding were established: the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund; the Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund; and the Creative Scotland Bridging Bursaries for the non-profit sector.

Routinely involving expert trade unions in decision-making relating to cultural funding at a national, regional and local level would help maximise the impact of cultural spend.

Similar decision-making models should be rolled out in national cultural institutions as well as in national and regional governments. Arts Council England offers one such model, with an Area Director responsible for each region of the UK, and relationship managers across the country assessing funding applications. Final funding decisions are made by Area Councils for applications under £800,000, and the National Council finalises funding applications over £800,000. This process is a good example of local decision-making from experts based outside of London, who may be best placed to direct funding to bolster local culture in their respective nations and regions.

 

How can the Government support places without established artistic infrastructure to take full advantage of the opportunities that the levelling up agenda provides?

Nurturing artistic infrastructure in places where it is not fully established is necessary to level up local economies and cultural scenes. Recent history shows us that one way this can be achieved is through encouraging major national cultural institutions to set up hubs outside of the capital.

Local success stories:

 

 

 

 

Institutions, however, are only as strong as those working for them, and so to establish and maintain artistic infrastructure across the country, we also need to see investment in creative talent. A shortage of skilled workers is impacting the UK’s creative industries, primarily driven by poor working conditions including inadequate pay and long hours.

Bectu’s Fit4Purpose campaign highlights the need for change in the theatre industry, calling upon employers to overhaul agreements in order to safeguard the long-term future of the industry, which has seen staff leave to work in other creative roles during the pandemic’s lockdowns. In October 2021, The National Theatre reported that staffing levels in backstage departments were down by 50% and the Co-Chair of Costume in Theatre, Entertainment and Arts (CiTEA) reported that pay in film and TV can be up to 75% more than in theatre[17]. We are calling for the Government to ensure workers in the creative industries have fair terms and conditions that recognise their skills and commitment to their craft, including consolidated basic wages and a crackdown on excessive hours[18].

The skills shortage across theatre and live events is severe. A survey run by campaign group #WeMakeEvents found that over half of freelance live events professionals have not returned to the industry full time after the pandemic, leading to the cancellation of shows and impacts on associated supply chains[19].

The survey found that 56% of freelancers in this sector reported earnings of less than £10,000 per year and 64% of freelancers found work in other sectors, and 74% of companies lacked confidence in the availability of skilled workers over the coming months[20][21].

There can be no levelling up of culture through the establishment of new artistic infrastructure if there are not skilled people willing to work in the industry across the country. We also need to ensure a continuous pipeline of talent by investing in the skills required by the UK’s rapidly growing film and TV production industries.

As the film and TV industries have historically chosen to rely on a contingent employment model, generally employing freelancers on a production-by-production basis, we are facing a growing skills crisis. The BFI will be reporting on this in detail shortly, but the contingent employment model results in a free-rider problem in which investment in training largely comes through public bodies or apprenticeship levies[22]. It would be much more sustainable if this were done by employers with natural market incentives to do so.

A contingent employment model in which engagers have a very strong bargaining hand over their workers is not one that is designed to attract large or diverse quantities of new talent into an industry quickly. The film and TV industry has a notoriously gruelling long hours working culture. The standard working day in drama generally lasts 12 hours with many departments working even longer. It is a set of norms that were sustainable for people working in short bursts, but not for those who are now finding themselves in demand for most of the year’s 52 weeks.

Developing UK-commissioned productions outside of the M25 should prove an attractive option for a government committed to levelling up. Much of the lack of diversity in the UK film and TV industries can be attributed to an unofficial entry qualification – a requirement to be able to afford to live in London and have access to a car. Long hours and a contingent employment model that discourages job-sharing drives many talented women out of the industry. People from low-income backgrounds are effectively excluded at entry level. This deprives the UK industry of vital talent from women, low-income social groups and from ethnic minorities.

Strong studios working year-round at a single location, employing people on permanent contracts, facilitating shift-working and job-shares, and with a strong investment in training would meet multiple challenges. The key to this success is a re-thinking of the roles of the BBC and Channel 4 as incubators of UK production talent, commissioned to be produced in the nations and regions by production companies directly employing production crew.

In the past, the BBC and ITV were larger employers. They offered structured career paths and training and developed the kind of skills base that made the UK an increasingly attractive venue for inward investment.

While High End TV (HETV) productions financed by streaming giants increasingly monopolise the growing production base around the M25, pricing UK-commissioned productions out of the marketplace for skills, the Producers              Alliance for              Cinema and Television (Pact’s) annual census figure shows UK-commissioned productions are still filling the capacity in the nations and the regions[23].

This is particularly relevant when thinking about levelling up the economy, as UK-commissioned productions are particularly good for investment that offers a high GVA to the local economy that it lands in. Money spent on a production in a region has a higher positive economic impact than many other forms of investment[24].This solution is key to protecting a valued British asset – our (threatened) capacity to create more, high-quality TV programmes written and produced by UK-based teams, catering to the demands of UK audiences (who are famously the world’s most reluctant audiences when it comes to consuming non-national production output) [25].

Studios are being built across the country[26] and we need to ensure that we have the skilled workers to fill them, as recognised by the BFI who are undertaking a major strategic skills review to develop long term solutions to tackle the UK skills shortage[27]. Support is also needed for freelancers working outside of major cities, with the growth of remote working during the pandemic potentially supporting more creative jobs outside of major urban areas.

When levelling up areas without existing artistic infrastructure, the Government must ensure that local people in all their diversity benefit from new cultural projects. Equality and diversity in the creative industries has historically been lacking and Bectu has long campaigned to improve the industry’s record in this area.

Our Theatre Diversity Action Plan, launched by the Mayor of London, provides theatres with step-by-step guidance to improve diversity, such as carrying out an accurate assessment of their current workforce, improving recruitment processes and setting targets. The action plan has brought together more than 131 theatres and theatrical producers to increase diversity across the theatre workforce, with leading theatres such as the Royal Opera House and the National Theatre signing up[28].

Similarly, Bectu and the Advertising Producers Association (APA) launched the Commercials Production Diversity Action Plan to address the under-representation of ethnic minority workers among crew working behind the camera[29]. Over 100 production companies signed up to the action plan, including McCann World Group, Weiden & Kennedy and crewing agency Sarah Putt Associates. The signatories have committed to adopting the action plan’s step-by-step guide to addressing under-representation, adopting a template code of conduct on all productions and adopting the new Acas-approved discrimination procedure, which was developed by Bectu[30].

 

How might changes to the UK’s broadcasting landscape affect investment in cultural production outside the capital, and what could the consequences be for artists and communities?

As the largest union in the BBC representing production, filming, technical, research and administration roles, as well as representing hundreds of creatives at Channel 4, Bectu has thousands of members delivering the UK’s unrivalled public service broadcasting.

Bectu is concerned that the Government’s proposed changes to the UK’s broadcasting landscape will fundamentally weaken the UK’s public service broadcasting offering, which is the envy of the world. The freezing of the BBC’s licence fee and threatening to later abolish it, combined with proposals to privatise Channel 4, risk choking off an explosion in investment in cultural production outside of the capital.

The BBC has been a bedrock of British culture for 100 years and has demonstrated a firm commitment to being a truly national broadcaster. Its unique funding model gives it the ability to invest in creative talent and public service content across the country, providing an annual gross value add of £4.9 billion to the UK’s economy – all for just 43p a day.

This investment results in jobs and creative excellence being spread across the UK. Half of the BBC’s directly employed staff are based outside of London, with the national broadcaster providing 10,000 creative jobs outside of the nation’s capital[31]. Similarly, almost half of the BBC’s television production is in the nations and regions, with 47.9% outside of London and 16.4% from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland[32]. The BBC has set a target to spend an extra £700 million outside London by 2027/2028, boosting the level of production outside of London and generating an additional £850 million in the UK economy[33].

This is mirrored by a public service broadcaster focus on producing shows outside of the capital, with the BBC and Channel 4 commissioning many non-London UK productions. Whilst the commercial streaming giants play an important role in the UK’s thriving broadcasting sector, they do not have the same incentive to invest in all corners of the UK. In 2019, Channel 4 contributed £992 million to the UK economy and £274 million to regional economies outside of London[34]. Its establishment of hubs in Leeds and Bristol in 2019 allowed the network to invest in creativity in the surrounding areas, bolstering support for regional productions like Peaky Blinders and The Duke. The move to Leeds was estimated to create an economic impact of £1 billion across the Leeds City Region over the next decade and 2020 saw a record high of 47% of Channel 4’s commissions and productions (by both spend and volume) being outside of London, demonstrating a real commitment to spreading creative investment and opportunity across the UK[35][36]. In 2021, Channel 4 met a target to spend 50% of its commissioning budget outside of London, two years ahead of the original 2023 target[37]. In 2019, Channel 4 invested £97,000 in young Scottish production talent through its Alpha Fund, which supports new and emergent small, independent production companies across the UK – with Scotland being one of the major beneficiaries[38].

The public service broadcaster is also investing in content representing the full diversity of the UK’s population, reserving 50% of its spending for first-run original content based in the nations and regions by 2023.[39] Channel 4 has also worked closely with the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity to improve its racial diversity internally, setting targets of 20% of staff and 20% of top 100 paid staff to be from BAME backgrounds by 2023.[40]

Similarly, the BBC has committed to regional investment through its ‘Across the UK plans, which will see an extra £700 million of spending outside London by 2027/28, in turn generating an additional benefit of over £850 million to the economy[41]. The move to Media City instilled confidence in northern productions and demonstrated that talent is just as rife in the north as in London.[42] The relocation to Media City created 4,600 jobs between 2011 and 2016, equivalent to a 43% increase in creative employment, and sparked filming outside of London of some of the BBC’s biggest shows, such as Peaky Blinders, Poldark, Countryfile and Doctor Who[43].

The BBC is a truly national broadcaster, providing over 40 national and local radio stations across the UK’s nations and regions, and beaming local news into homes across the country from its twelve English regional television centres and its national centres in the devolved nations. The BBC employs 1,306 people in Scotland, with 88% of adults using BBC TV/iPlayer, BBC Radio or BBC online each week[44]. In Northern Ireland, the BBC employs 665 people, and the relocation of BBC Wales’ Broadcasting Centre HQ to Cardiff is expected to add £1.1 billion to the local economy and 1,900 jobs over its first ten years[45].

During the pandemic, hyper-local radio stations were set up such as BBC Burnley and BBC Wolverhampton to keep people informed about the medical emergency and producing extra local content and interactivity with listeners, alleviating some of the loneliness that the lockdowns inflicted. Additionally, the Make a Difference campaign was launched across local radio in March 2020, which linked listeners together who needed help throughout the pandemic, allowing locals to drop food off for clinically vulnerable people. One example included a mechanic ringing BBC Radio Devon when a frontline NHS worker‘s car had broken down and fixing it for her when she was at work[46]. The campaign had the biggest response the BBC had ever received through local radio, keeping people across the country connected[47]. Streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon, and other commercially funded models, would not have had an incentive to deliver such a valuable service in a time of crisis.

The funding model and remit of the UK’s public service broadcasters allows them to take a risk and commission quintessentially British content, often resulting in big successes domestically and abroad. The BBC is home to TV shows such as Killing Eve, Fleabag, I May Destroy You, Alan Partridge, Peaky Blinders and Line of Duty, all written by some of the country’s finest creative minds. Similarly, Channel 4 has produced TV favourites such as It’s A Sin, Peep Show, Fresh Meat, This is England, The IT Crowd and Grand Designs, all of which capture what it truly means to be British – and some of which might not make it past a pitch to a commercial broadcaster more focused on driving up subscriptions or selling ads.

The Government’s decision to freeze the licence fee for two years will cost the BBC £285 million a year, hitting creative jobs and investment in regional economies across the UK[48]. Removing the licence fee altogether and privatising Channel 4 would endanger the future of content made by and representing communities from every corner of the British Isles. BBC Director General Tim Davie has stated that freezing the licence fee for the next two years will affect [the BBC’s] frontline output and when asked what might be cut, he replied everything [is] on the agenda[49].

Changes to the UK’s broadcasting landscape could also have a knock-on effect on other creative industries due to the symbiotic relationship between different sectors of the UK’s cultural ecosystem, with successful stars and content frequently moving across different media.

For example, British writer and actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge first emerged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, performing Fleabag as a one-woman show. This was then picked up for television by the BBC, becoming a landmark British comedy hit that won awards internationally and led to further critical and commercial success for Waller-Bridge and the BBC with Killing Eve. Changes to the funding models of one sector will have an impact that goes far beyond just that area of the creative industries, and this must be understood by Government when making policy and funding decisions.

 

How should Government build on existing schemes, such as UK City of Culture, to level up funding for arts and culture?

The UK City of Culture scheme provides cities outside of London with the opportunity to regenerate through developing new cultural offerings and showcasing existing creative excellence on the national stage. The scheme has propelled cities to become cultural strongholds that have stood the test of time and had an impact far beyond the 365 days spent in the national spotlight.

Administered by DCMS, the title is awarded to cities every four years through a competition that awards the most successful bidder. It was created to ‘build on the success of Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture 2008, which had significant social and economic benefits for the area’. However, Brexit has meant that the UK is not eligible to host the 2023 European Capital of Culture, as participants must be part of the EU or the EEA. To make up for this loss, the Government could expand on the UK City of Culture, making the occasion more frequent than every four years.

The Government could build upon the success of the City of Culture scheme by introducing a government-funded Town of Culture scheme, giving towns an opportunity to showcase their creativity and build upon culture in the area.

Case study – UK City of Culture 2021-25: Coventry

Coventry is the UK City of Culture 2021-25 and has experienced a major boost in tourism as people travelled to visit the events organised across the city. The city has announced a host of cultural events to take place across Spring 2022, covering all sectors of the arts, including fashion, performance and music, and the city’s first permanent immersive digital art gallery, The Reel Store. The space will be located in the distinctive post-war building that was home to the Coventry Evening Telegraph newspaper. It will feature innovative experiential art commissions, housing a large projection mapping canvas, multiple video projectors and an immersive sound system. The gallery will become a permanent new visitor attraction in Coventry, demonstrating how the UK City of Culture scheme can nurture long-lasting creativity and cultural venues.

Coventry has recently been cited as one of the UK’s top 15 destinations in The Times[50], as well as one of ten cities with the top-rated cultural attractions by Luxury Lifestyle Magazine[51]. Visit England described the city as ‘a symbol of rebirth and heralds 'a packed programme of events including film screenings, workshops, live theatre and even a floating market along the canal‘[52]. A detailed programme to monitor and evaluate the lasting impact of these events and the city’s tenure as UK City of Culture has been established to run until 2023/24 to ensure long lasting change.

As of June 2021, the Coventry City of Culture Trust had worked with 339 artists and 256 freelancers on City of Culture programmes and calculated 349,000 points of online engagement by members of the public[53]. A broadcast partnership between the Trust and the BBC was established, resulting in episodes of Antiques Roadshow and a documentary about the construction of Coventry cathedral being produced in the city and broadcast to the nation. The City of Culture’s signature event ‘Coventry Moves’ provided opportunities for community performers and participants to take part alongside professionals in a major live event celebrating the city’s identity and future. The UK City of Culture and the funding it provides has undoubtedly levelled up arts and culture within Coventry, demonstrating how schemes such as this can bolster culture at a local level in the UK.

Similarly, the European Capital of Culture scheme has fostered creativity in a host of cities across the UK, most notably Liverpool in 2008, which delivered the most successful Capital of Culture year to date, hosting an additional 9.7 million visitors and generating an economic impact of £753.8 million[54].

Again, the positive impact of being named the Capital of Culture has been felt long beyond 2008. Since 2008, extensive regeneration across Liverpool has led to new developments including the Liverpool One shopping centre, as well as world famous exhibitions and events such as the Liverpool Giants and an independent food and drink scene that led to the creation of Independent Liverpool, a popular guide to independent culture in the city.

Starting as an Instagram account, Independent Liverpool posted bars, restaurants and coffee shops across the city, covering over 100 local businesses. Over the last few years, it has grown into a successful business, opening the Baltic Market, which hosts food and drink stalls from local independents, putting on events with small businesses across the city such as the Independent Food and Drink Festival, and creating a card that gives customers discounts at independent cultural venues. Extending this idea to other towns and cities across the UK could help to promote culture and local independent businesses.

Culture Liverpool was established to capitalise on the success of 2008 and works to promote the city’s thriving culture scene. As Liverpool City Council’s cultural service, Culture Liverpool promotes arts and events as the driving force of regeneration within the city, such as re-locating the Open Eye Gallery to a newly developed area on the dock front and working on the redevelopment and refurbishment of the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall[55]. With the city benefiting from annual economic growth of around £1.6 billion [56], it is evident that being chosen as the European City of Culture had a long-lasting positive impact on Liverpool, catapulting its cultural scene to centre stage and providing long-lasting new cultural opportunities for the region.

Schemes that celebrate the culture of individual towns and cities shine a spotlight on creativity and engender a nationwide celebration of local history. Providing funding for schemes at a local level with a strong focus on a place is the best way to ensure that arts and culture are levelled up.

Devolving more arts and culture funding to a more local level will give more power and opportunity to people with direct experience of and personal investment in a locality to direct funding to the best possible projects. Devolution would ensure long-term investment for local economies, which in turn would contribute to the wider UK economy and creative industries. Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin has proposed a mentoring scheme for newcomers to the creative industries, which would be a good initiative to improve diversity and kickstart culture in underfunded areas.

Schemes have a role to play, but ultimately for culture to play its full role in levelling up the country, cities outside of London need to see increased investment and resources.


[1] Creative industries’ record contribution to UK economy - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

[2] UK’s Creative Industries contributes almost £13 million to the UK economy every hour - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

[3] DCMS Sectors Economic Estimates 2018: Employment (publishing.service.gov.uk) p. 6

[4] Creative Industries - Tracy Brabin for West Yorkshire Mayor (laboursites.org)Plans for 'Film Studio of the North' in West Yorkshire | Bradford Telegraph and Argus (thetelegraphandargus.co.uk)

[5] ‘Meanwhile spaces’: the empty shops becoming a creative force across the country | Life and style | The Guardian

[6] ‘Meanwhile spaces’: the empty shops becoming a creative force across the country | Life and style | The Guardian

[7]Majority of UK theatres and music venues 'face permanent shutdown' | Arts funding | The Guardian

UK live music venues we've lost over the years - Radio X

[8] Arts Council England Reports £230m Decline In Arts Funding Since 2010 – Artlyst

[9] Budget Consultation Document 2223 Phase Two (peterborough.gov.uk) p. 11

[10] Budget Consultation Document 2223 Phase Two (peterborough.gov.uk) p.2

[11] Budget Consultation Document 2223 Phase Two (peterborough.gov.uk) p.12

[12] Plug to be pulled on Peterborough’s Christmas lights switch-on as part of £12.6 million budget cuts | Peterborough Telegraph (peterboroughtoday.co.uk)

[13] Tate St Ives - - BAM Case Study

[14] What has the Tate ever done for St Ives? - Cornwall Live

[15] Game of Thrones is 'game changer' for NI tourism - BBC News

[16] Major TV and film productions in Northern Ireland | nibusinessinfo.co.uk

[17] Talent-drain crisis as skilled theatre workers move to film and TV (thestage.co.uk)

[18] Bectu launches Fit4Purpose campaign | Bectu

[19]PLASA and #WeMakeEvents industry recovery survey p. 6

[20] PLASA and #WeMakeEvents industry recovery survey p. 7

[21]PLASA and #WeMakeEvents industry recovery survey p. 7

[22] BFI launches review to boost skills across the UK | BFI

[23] Revenues fall as pandemic hits TV production sector | PACT

[24] 1 (channel4.com) p. 1

[25] Survey: What Consumers Overseas Want From Streaming Services - Variety

[26] New Film and TV studios under construction in the UK - The Studio Map

Crew shortage reaching crisis point | News | Broadcast (broadcastnow.co.uk)

[27] BFI launches review to boost skills across the UK | BFI

BFI to lead skills review for UK government | News | Broadcast (broadcastnow.co.uk)

[28] Massive theatre industry support for Bectu Diversity Action Plan | Bectu

[29] Over 100 production companies sign landmark diversity plan from the union and the commercials employers | Bectu

[30] commercials-diversity-action-plan-2021-final (2).pdf p. 16

[31] 2020-21.pdf (bbc.co.uk) p. 30

[32] 2020-21.pdf (bbc.co.uk) p. 126

[33] 2020-21.pdf (bbc.co.uk) p. 15

[34] 1 (channel4.com) p. 1

[35] Channel 4 sparks new era of success for Leeds City Region - LEP | Business support and finance (the-lep.com)

[36] 1 (channel4.com) p. 10

[37] 1 (channel4.com) p. 10

[38] C4's Alpha Fund Increases Investment In Scottish Creative Talent | Channel 4

[39] 1 (channel4.com) p. 10

[40] 1 (channel4.com) p. 5

[41] 2020-21.pdf (bbc.co.uk) p. 15

[42] Manchester focus: What impact are MediaCity and the BBC having on creative industries in Manchester? | The Drum

[43] Get out of town – The UK Film and TV Industry outside London | News | Mad Dog 2020 (maddog2020casting.com)

Made outside London programme titles register 2020 (ofcom.org.uk)

[44] 2020-21.pdf (bbc.co.uk) p. 119

[45] 2020-21.pdf (bbc.co.uk) p. 119

[46] ‘Local radio is there for you’ says BBC Director-General - Media Centre

[47] ‘Local radio is there for you’ says BBC Director-General - Media Centre

[48] Licence fee freeze will cost BBC £285m and hit programmes, says director general - BBC News

[49] Licence fee freeze will hit programmes, BBC director general says - BBC News

[50] 15 brilliant city breaks in the UK for 2022 - Times Travel (thetimes.co.uk)

[51] The 10 British cities with the top-rated cultural attractions for 2022 | Luxury Lifestyle Magazine

[52] Best things to do in Coventry | VisitEngland

[53] What is UK City of Culture? - Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 (coventry2021.co.uk)

[54] Liverpool Capital of Culture: A Decade Of Growth - RWinvest (rw-invest.com)

[55] Liverpool Cultural Action Plan by Culture Liverpool – Issuu

[56] Liverpool Capital of Culture: A Decade Of Growth - RWinvest (rw-invest.com)