Arts Council England announces commitment to Barnsley as one of 54 priority places nationally

Today, Arts Council England has announced that Barnsley will be one of 15 priority places in the North where they want to develop new opportunities for investment, 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 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, 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.


Let’s Create 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.


To help make this vision a reality the Delivery Plan names 54 priority places across England. Arts Council will work closely with these locations to develop new opportunities for investment, both from the Arts Council and other partners. Across the North, from Barnsley to Blackpool, South Tyneside to Kirklees, County Durham to Wigan, and Barrow-in-Furness to the Tees Valley, priority places recognises the need for cultural investment, and it will give more people the opportunity to enjoy high-quality cultural experiences in their communities and neighbourhoods.

Culture is at the heart of Barnsley’s regeneration plans and there is huge potential to help realise the borough’s cultural ambitions and build on exciting opportunities provided by cultural organisations such as the Barnsley Civic, the recently developed Library at the Light box and the multi award-winning Barnsley Museums suite of venues which includes Experience Barnsley - which is a finalist for the Art Fund Museum of the Year Prize. There is also further potential to develop creative industries and cultural engagement and participation for communities right across the borough, in places such as Goldthorpe which is in receipt of new Stronger Towns funding, and in historic Elsecar. Since the beginning of the pandemic Barnsley has received £1,992,886 investment from the Arts Council 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 is committed to levelling up by strengthening cultural and creativity opportunities in a targeted way. Investment will increase in a range of other locations through the Arts Council’s own programmes such as Creative People & Places (budget for 2021-22 £23 million), the new Place Partnership fund (budget for 2021-22 £7 million), and the Government funding streams that the Arts Council supports: 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, says “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.”


Pete Massey, Director, North, Arts Council England, commented: “I am pleased to see Barnsley announced today as one of our 15 priority places across the North. The launch of our Delivery Plan, which sets out how we’ll implement our new 10-year strategy Let’s Create, and the announcement of our priority places will see us working closely with partners across Barnsley to ensure that creativity and culture can play a key role in levelling up across the North.


“The Government’s Culture Recovery Fund has provided a lifeline to arts and cultural organisations during the pandemic. It is important that we now continue to invest in the cultural sector to ensure everyone across the country can access art and culture no matter where they live. The launch of our Delivery Plan and announcement of a set of priority places shows our commitment to this.


“There is a clear appetite for arts and culture in Barnsley, demonstrated not only by the cultural organisations and creative practitioners who work across the borough but also by Barnsley Council’s plans to put culture at the centre of its regeneration ambitions. I look forward to working more closely with partners in the sector and in the local authority to make these aims a reality.”


Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council, said: “We're proud of our quality, award-winning cultural offer in Barnsley. It's great news that we'll be working with Arts Council England to develop this further and enable more residents, visitors and communities to participate in a huge variety of cultural experiences.


“Culture, wellbeing and the economy are closely linked. We'll build on our cultural offer coming back strong from the pandemic, to make Barnsley a place of possibilities, where culture is embedded in all our placemaking work.”

Download the list of priority places, including methodology, here https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/your-area/priority-places#section-1


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