Culture adds value to places. The central argument around place made by the recently published Cultural Cities Enquiry (CCE) is summed up by Alison Nimmo of the Crown Estate: “Cultural and creative uses generate property value in cities but there is greater potential to do more to capture the benefits for the sector and communities.”
Cultural activity (i.e. arts and heritage) in an area spurs the local growth of creative and digital industries. With this powerful capacity to catalyse economic development, publicly-owned cultural properties can be strategic assets for cities in driving regeneration. But regeneration can also lead to displacement of culture workers and cultural assets.
The Cultural Cities Enquiry makes a series of recommendations intended to help ensure that cities unlock the place-based benefits of culture, while avoiding culture becoming a displaced victim of the successes that it brings:
- City Compacts should support the establishment of portfolio approaches to cultural property assets, where local conditions present a sound business case for doing so. These asset portfolios should maintain civic, community or cultural sector ownership of property to enable returns to be recycled
- Governments should support the more widespread establishment of portfolio approaches by providing a toolkit to support Compacts in assessing viability of options, bringing together public bodies and other agencies with an active interest in this field, including Historic England, National Lottery Heritage Fund, National Trust, Arts Councils, Local Government Association, as well as Architectural Heritage Foundation
- Governments should also support cities by funding viability studies to establish more entrepreneurial approaches to the management of property assets for cultural purposes
- Compacts should also ensure that cultural activity is prioritised within city spatial plans, and that planning policy, licensing and business rates are in alignment to help enhance the cultural estate.
BOP was a member of the CCE’s working group, as well as acting as key research partner.
Full report here.
- Jonathan Todd, Chief Economist