Crawley named as a priority in the South East as Arts Council England announces commitment to 54 priority places

Arts Council England has announced that Crawley will be a priority place to focus on as part of the publication of its three year Delivery Plan for 2021 - 2024.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 12:29 am

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.

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Councillor Chris Mullins, Cabinet member for Wellbeing at Crawley Borough Council, at Pride. Picture by Jon Rigby

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.

The Arts Council will work closely with these locations to develop new opportunities for investment, both from the Arts Council and other partners. Across the South East, from Medway to Slough, and Dover to Crawley, priority places recognises the need for cultural investment, and it will give more people the opportunity to enjoy excellent cultural experiences in their communities and neighbourhoods.

Crawley is an area with significant opportunities for art and creativity to thrive.

The area has a strong cultural history. It is home to a number of cultural organisations and projects that demonstrate the area’s creativity. There is scope and ambition from the local authority for even more of the community to gain from experiencing creativity, as well as developing the area’s offer. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Crawley has received £482,258 investment from the Arts Council through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

On the back of this investment, being a priority place will boost the growth of local opportunities for arts and culture through partnership and collaboration.

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.

Councillor Chris Mullins, Cabinet member for Wellbeing at Crawley Borough Council, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Arts Council England and other key stakeholders in Crawley so that residents and visitors alike can enjoy and participate in arts and culture activity. Crawley is a wonderfully diverse and vibrant town and the impact that arts and culture can have in helping drive social and economic change to the town is immense.”

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 are committed to levelling up by strengthening cultural and creativity opportunities in a targeted way. Investment will increase in a range of other locations through 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 Arts Council support: 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, said: “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.”

Hazel Edwards, South East Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “Our priority places approach provides a vital recognition that there are places across the country with huge ambition to embrace everything that culture can offer, but need more than just funding to make that happen. Through working strategically with local partners, we can bring them together and support them as they develop the local cultural infrastructure, which will in turn create vital opportunities for both artists and local communities.

"This work takes time and by establishing Crawley as a priority place, we’re committing our time and expertise to work hand-in-hand with them as they develop their cultural offering and identity.”