Arts Council England
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Culture on our high streets

we've published two new pieces of research on the value of cultural organisations to our high streets, showing how important these spaces will be in reanimating local economies as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first is a data report analysing experimental high street data by Ordnance Survey (OS) and a survey of our regularly funded organisations, which shows that cultural buildings are located at the heart of high streets: 

  • Culture has a strong presence on high streets – 75% of buildings used by Arts Council funded organisations are either on or within a 5-minute walk of a high street 
  • Culture helps support local economies by creating jobs – over 300 cultural venues and buildings are located in unemployment hotspots. 
  • Cultural venues provide additional amenities for the public – nearly a quarter of cultural organisations have a café, bar or bookshop (or a combination of all three) onsite. 

Dr Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England yesterday said:

“An investment in culture is an investment in our high streets. Theatres, music venues, museums and libraries are the beating hearts of their communities. They’re central to the social fabric and civic pride of towns across England. As well as events and performances for audiences of all ages, they provide a raft of local amenities from bars to bookshops, helping to bring our high streets alive, providing jobs and boosting the economy.” 

A second report points to a growing body of evidence that demonstrates culture’s role in revitalising the high street by promoting social cohesion and supporting local economies in towns, cities and villages up and down the country, the Arts and Place Shaping: Evidence Review indicates that culture: 

  • Supports community cohesion – cultural organisations can help build civic pride and create an increased sense of belonging in communities.  
  • Increases footfall – libraries, theatres or museums can play a key role in hosting events and offering unique experiences that attract visitors to high streets. 
  • Helps repurpose vacant buildings – arts and cultural organisations are helping fill the gap left by retailers as they move away from high streets, repurposing vacant properties left by retailers into cultural spaces. 
  • Creates good jobs – culture-led regeneration and investment can drive local economic growth and help create employment. 

Click here for the full press release


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