Northumberland’s bid to be world leader for culture

Daffodils blooming at Warkworth Castle.
Daffodils blooming at Warkworth Castle.

Northumberland will be recognised as a cultural leader with a world-class offer by 2030 – that’s the vision being set out by the county council.

The authority’s new cultural strategy, for the period from 2018 to 2030, has been discussed by councillors on the communities and place committee and was approved by cabinet on Tuesday.

The vision of the strategy is: ‘We want Northumberland to be internationally recognised for our exceptional arts and heritage and for local people to benefit fully from a range of cultural experiences that enhance quality of life, health and well-being, making Northumberland an outstanding and special place to live, work and visit.’

This is underpinned by five goals – place-making and identity (celebrating the landscape and built heritage), education and learning, health and well-being, economy and growth, and partnership and collaboration.

Janice Rose, the council’s economic and inclusion policy manager, explained that it would involve a bottom-up approach in communities but also influences from outside, such as the opportunities presented by the North of Tyne devolution deal and the Borderlands growth deal.

She added that there are great things going on in the county, but it tends to be on a project basis when it needs to be brought together and dealt with on a strategic basis.

The committee chairman, Coun Jeff Reid, said: “Fair enough, it’s a document written to inspire confidence and inspire people to think about our cultural heritage and, fair enough, it’s a strategic document, but it’s the mechanism that’s put in place to deliver it that will be interesting. Otherwise these words are just words.”

The foreword to the draft strategy, by Coun Cath Homer, the cabinet member for culture, arts, leisure and tourism, was described by Coun Reid as ‘one of the most over-written things I have ever read’.

It includes: ‘Through our arts, heritage and culture, we showcase a county that has a strong strength of identity, a Northumberland cultural rhythm that is echoed across our stunning landscapes and awesome coastline. We believe this unique cultural rhythm should be amplified, shared and celebrated nationally and internationally.

‘By 2030, Northumberland will be recognised as a cultural leader, the rural destination in England and a place acknowledged for its creativity and world-class cultural offer.’

By Ben O’Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service