The North can’t have a successful economy without a thriving cultural sector. It’s as simple as that.
The economic value and contribution of the North’s cultural sector is huge, with a report commissioned in 2019 by the Arts Council England finding that the sector generated a whopping turnover of £2.7bn for the North’s economy.
When we think about the North, we think of our cultural symbols, products and assets.
From the cobbles of Coronation Street to the Angel of the North, the timeless words of Beatrix Potter to the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Moors, Manchester’s eclectic music scene to the iconic waterfront in Liverpool, the North has an incredible cultural heritage that has produced some of the finest artists, singers, actors and writers the UK has ever seen.
Yet in comparison to the South, Northern Culture is consistently underfunded, undervalued and underestimated.
A 2020 Fabian Report revealed that the Arts Council National Lottery funding contributed £50.40 per person to organisations based in London, compared with an average of £30 per person across the North, with some pockets of the North like South Yorkshire receiving significantly less than that at £18 per person. With the huge growth potential the North’s cultural sector has, surely it’s time to level-up funding?
Last year in the wake of Covid-19, DevoConnect helped set up the Northern Culture APPG. This brings together the North’s cultural stakeholders, experts and residents with leading Parliamentarians to think about how we can work together to create better access to culture – including skillsets and jobs – level up cultural infrastructure and show the pure talent and opportunities that lie within the region.
The APPG has launched an inquiry to look into what Northern Culture needs to rebuild, rebalance and recover. It will produce a bespoke ‘State of the North’ report on Northern Culture, providing a united voice on pan-Northern cultural asks and priorities in order to shape and influence future government decision-making and policy.
In a recent Pod’s Own Country Podcast, Professor Katy Shaw from Northumbria University, the Academic Partner of the Northern Culture APPG, highlighted that the inquiry was not just looking “to rebuild culture to where it was” but to “rebuild it for the future in a way that is sustainable and resilient” that could be “flexible around future challenges”.
We have seen Northern Culture work so hard throughout the pandemic to keep providing us all with our much-needed cultural fix. Culture went digital in lockdown, with theatres, festivals, musicians and more being accessed through our TVs and computer screens – with great initiatives like United We Stream launched to entertain all of us at home. However, throughout this Inquiry, what has been made abundantly clear is that regardless of whether you are a trade body, cultural institution, festival organiser, writer, artist, musician or even an audience member, we all now desperately crave that face-to-face interaction and experience that Northern Culture has to offer.
In order satisfy that craving, we need Northern Culture to thrive, not just survive. The way to make that happen? Level-up funding!
Olivia Tyrrell, Campaigns Manager, DevoConnect
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED IN THE NORTHERN CULTURE INQUIRY
When we launch the findings of this pan-northern Inquiry, it will truly demonstrate the consensus amongst us all that Northern Culture is the key to rebuilding, rebalancing and the recovery. And with any hope, the launch will be an opportunity to be together in one of our great Northern cultural institutions, celebrating and showcasing just how much talent the North has to offer.
In the meantime, don’t miss your chance to get involved in the APPG’s Inquiry by submitting evidence, dialing-in to our next session on Friday 9th July or by sharing your thoughts with us on social media.
The Northern Culture APPG is kindly supported by our Academic Partner Northumbria University, Founding Partner The Old Courts and Northern Culture Club members Counterculture and CT Consults.
Becoming a partner of the Northern Culture Club provides your organisation with the opportunity to support and inform the work of the Group. For further details or if you have a question about the Northern Culture APPG, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Olivia via email – firstname.lastname@example.org