An ambitious vision to put culture at the heart of Plymouth’s development has been revealed, supporting and creating hundreds of jobs and businesses while building a world class cultural offer that attracts visitors and connects communities.
Plymouth Culture – the organisation that supports the city’s cultural sector – has united businesses, stakeholders and city leaders as well as artists, creatives and performers to develop the plan, which sets out how culture can give Plymouth the economic and creative support it needs to truly prosper.
The Culture Plan urges Plymouth to be a leader for culture, highlighting the achievements of other cities brave enough to tread a similar path. Liverpool, for example, has doubled the size of its visitor economy thanks to cultural activity, where it is estimated for every £1 invested, £10 is brought back into the city.
Culture is vital to Plymouth’s future in a world after the Covid-19 pandemic - the sector currently employs more than 1,500 people, with an estimated 600 indirect jobs supported by it. The sector accounts for nearly £70 million of economic output per year and 365 businesses in Plymouth are classed as “arts, entertainment, recreation and other services”.
Despite the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Plymouth has continued to innovate culturally through the crisis with major developments such as The Box opening and projects such as the Speedwell ‘No New Worlds’ installation attracting global attention.
This is as well as eye-catching community projects such as impromptu giant puppet parades, guerrilla knitting and a human seagull wandering the city centre – all part of Plymouth’s relentless creative spirit.
The Culture Plan builds on this spirit, aspiring to channel it into making Plymouth an international beacon for culture. It includes:
An annual world class programme of city-wide public events – music, theatre, art, dance and much more - that connect communities.
Immediate investment in the city centre - a High Street Heritage Action Zone – to strengthen how we experience culture in the city centre.
Increasing the number of outdoor and indoor spaces used to host cultural initiatives, using Plymouth’s natural and built environment - such as its world-class waterfront and transforming city centre but also community spaces across the city.
Helping develop new music venues and support current venues, as well as creating music-led events in innovative new spaces.
A new digital platform under the banner of Culture is Alive that celebrates culture, provides a comprehensive cultural guide, puts the spotlight on the city’s many creatives and helps attract and retain cultural talent.
Making sure Plymouth’s cultural offer reaches every community, neighbourhood and person – bringing culture to your doorstep. Our communities are more than just audiences or consumers – they can be active participants in making and shaping culture in Plymouth.
Using digital technology to make Plymouth the number one city in the UK for immersive experiences.
Making sure equality and diversity of voice is embedded at every level of Plymouth’s cultural development.
A cultural forum that involves communities in decisions about our cultural programme, including public art and the city’s events programme.
Continuing to attract millions in vital funding to the city, building on a trend of investment from important bodies such as Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund, who have been vital in funding transformative projects such as The Box.
The plan is being presented to Plymouth City Council next week when councillors will discuss the plan’s key points.
The Culture Plan stresses the importance of building on a sector that already attracts millions in investment in the city, strengthening our economy every year:
More than £50 million has been invested in Plymouth by outside funders in the past five years.
£6 million of recovery funding has been secured to retain jobs in arts and culture, continuing to support communities and their recovery from the pandemic.
Grass roots music venues alone contribute nearly £7 million to Plymouth’s night-time economy with almost 3,000 live music events each year, attracting nearly 300,000 people and supporting more than 30,000 musicians.
These figures do not include the £15 million of commercial income generated by non-profit cultural organisations in Plymouth every year who host 1,200 performances, workshops and events annually and create an average of 95 opportunities each week for young people.
These non-profit initiatives include creative highlights such as the Barbican Theatre’s giant puppet parade in St Jude’s, the community painting of the hoardings at the Civic Centre, the stunning Speedwell installation of the words No New Worlds in Mount Batten and the upcoming giant dragon that will take flight over Plymouth called The Hatchling later in 2021.
The Culture Plan comes after a year of battling the unprecedented effects of the Covid-19 pandemic but gives an optimistic vision for the city’s future.
Hannah Harris, CEO of Plymouth Culture, said:
“This is not simply a strategy for how Plymouth bounces back from the Covid-19 pandemic, albeit it comes at a time when we can consider how we want Plymouth to be in the future, and how we embed culture in it.
“With the opening of significant developments such as The Box, Devonport Market Hall, the reimagining of the Millennium building by Nudge Community Builders, the arrival of the British Art Show next year – as well as Mayflower 400 putting us in the international spotlight – it is important we put culture at the heart of the city’s future.”
Plymouth Culture has worked with dozens of cultural and creative organisations over the past 12 months to develop the plan – but also businesses and entrepreneurs.
Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said:
“Quite simply, this strategy is about making great stuff happen. It’s all the things we are really missing right now! Going to gigs, enjoying a night out and being part of something. Our priorities are our communities, our planet and our creative sector and how we can work together so that everyone in Plymouth benefits.
“I want our cultural offer to define us as a playful, welcoming city; a brave city that doesn’t shy away from the global challenges we face and instead continues to take risks, stand up and stand out.
“Culture must play a leading role in the future of the city – it brings people joy, it makes life better - but as this strategy shows - it also helps us economically.
“I want our cultural identity to be shaped by our communities and to do that our cultural offer needs to be an entitlement, not a privilege.”