Spring is in the air and with it comes a sense of optimism, of new opportunities and fresh starts – what better time to have launched a Cultural Enquiry to explore the part played by arts and culture in the new BCP city region created by the merger of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole councils?

Lighthouse has joined Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; the new BCP council; Bournemouth University and Arts University; the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership and Arts Council England South West to develop a long-term vision to ensure that culture is at the heart of BCP and continues to develop as a major economic and social benefit for the region.

The Cultural Enquiry is looking closely at the strengths of the current offer, at what it does well and, crucially, at what new provision or opportunities should be created so that the cultural offer in BCP reflects the new authority and is in line with that available comparable city regions.

“The enquiry aims to make culture central to a distinctive identity for the BCP area by developing a cultural strategy that makes the arts a major part of the area’s personality – what BCP is best known for,” explains Elspeth McBain, Lighthouse Chief Executive.

“Investment in arts and culture has been shown to generate economic growth, benefit health and well-being, boost educational attainment and develop community cohesion. We can only do that by working collectively so if you take Hull as an example of what can be achieved with its Capital of Culture programme, there is no reason to think that with the right investment that ambition cannot be achieved here.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, adds: “Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole councils have an exceptional track record of investing in art and culture, which can be seen through the superb range of creative work produced in the region. 

“The local government reorganisation presents a unique chance for culture to be put at the heart of this coastal region’s strategy and further develop its sense of place. We’re proud to be supporting this long-term vision for the new unitary authority and we look forward to seeing the recommendations made for the future prosperity of BCP.”

The results of the enquiry will be available later this year.

Published 16 April 2019