Some of the country’s leading arts figures were in Plymouth this week to see the amazing work going on in the city to make culture happen.
The entire governing body of the Arts Council of England – including Michael Eakin of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director of Royal Shakespeare Company and Tessa Ross, CEO of House Productions, ex-Channel Four – were in the city to see the incredible projects that are making Plymouth a cultural hot-spot.
The group was led by Chair of ACE Sir Nicholas Serota who applauded the work being done. He said: “The role of art and culture is at the heart of Plymouth’s redevelopment – from RIO’s regeneration of historic buildings in Devonport to the entrepreneurial zeal of those animating Millbay, from KARST to Street Factory.
“We applaud you, Plymouth and the generational change that we’re seeing across the city, spearheaded by the cross party support; we look forward to your future ambitions in the lead up to Mayflower 400 and the opening of The Box in 2020 and working alongside you in that vision.”
The Arts Council hosted its quarterly meeting here and toured some of the projects it has helped fund, including The Box, Plymouth’s new cultural and art attraction, which received £4.175 million from the arts organisation and the Market Hall in Devonport, destined to become a digital centre for arts, community activity, enterprise and visitors.
Britain’s Ocean City is receiving a further £4.1 million through ACE’s ‘National Portfolio Organisation’ investment – with 10 thriving arts organisations to receive regular funding from this year until 2022.
Leader of the Council Tudor Evans OBE and Shadow leader Ian Bowyer later attended a dinner with ACE members. Councillor Evans said: “We were chuffed to bits that the ACE chose Plymouth to host this meeting and to see all the inspiring work that’s actually happening – not just a plan – but actually happening right here in Plymouth.
“Culture is about more than buildings and regeneration; it is about people, about making a city such as Plymouth a fantastic place to live.
“It’s about unlocking talent in our communities and providing role models for our children. It is about making culture something for everyone. Plymouth is the place that gave us the Royal Academy through Joshua Reynolds – We just bringing culture home.”
He also paid tribute to the support the Arts Council of England has given Plymouth. He said: “As a local authority we couldn’t have walked this path alone and would not have been able to invest without the support of the Arts Council and we would not have been as brave without its encouragement or trust.”
Shadow Leader of the Council Ian Bowyer added: ‘Arts for Arts sake’ is no longer enough to justify investment from local government – especially when set against other priorities.
“Here in Plymouth our cross-party approach is a shared belief that investing in arts and culture helps address issues that affect the city – the need for economic growth, raising aspirations and improving community cohesion.
“For our investment we get the priceless returns of jobs, tourism, inward investment, recruitment, civic pride, marketing and financial leverage.”