New approach for cultural investment proposed
Wakefield Council is seeking approval from senior councillors to change the way its cultural funding is distributed to ensure it has a wider impact across the district, to positively benefit more residents and communities.
This will be accompanied by a new £1.5m Growth Investment Fund, which the Council is setting up to help attract major investment in the district and support longer term sustainability of the cultural activity.
Councillors are being recommended to adopt a new funding agreement with The Hepworth Wakefield, when the current agreement ends in March 2019. They are being asked to agree a reduction in the concession fee from the Council by £115k in the 2019/20 financial year and by £125k in 2020/21 to 2022/23, until funding has reached £750k by 2022/23.
The funding saved from this agreement will be reinvested back to a district wide approach, seeking to extend engagement and benefit to those who currently do not take part in cultural activity.
Cabinet members will also be asked to approve an allocation of £500k capital funding from the new Growth Fund to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to improve and extend car parking facilities to help attract more visitors and support its longer term viability.
A report to councillors says the Council has to manage a significant reduction in central government funding, but remains committed to delivering a vibrant cultural offer across the district to drive regeneration, skills and learning and improve the health and wellbeing of all our residents.
Cllr Jacquie Speight, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport at Wakefield Council, said: "We are considering taking a new approach to the way that we support the arts and culture in the district.
"We are very fortunate in our district that we have a rich and diverse offering with world class attractions including the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Hepworth Wakefield, together with the Theatre Royal, National Coalmining Museum for England, the Art House and National Trust Nostell, which together attract well over a million visits each year, but there are still gaps in engagement and participation, which we are seeking to address through different approaches."
The new funding structure aims to establish a clearer focus of the funding invested, grow the creative sector and above all identify new products and approaches to engage more people in cultural activity and creative opportunities. The approach will also work hard at ensuring there is greater collaboration between organisations, with a strong customer focus and encourage wider and more diverse investment into the district.