‘Arts funding essential to vibrant economy in Northern Powerhouse’

Kim Streets
Kim Streets
0
Have your say

A MUSEUMS chief has called for greater investment in arts and culture in the North to help make the Northern Powerhouse a reality.

Kim Streets, chief executive of Museums Sheffield, said public funding for London’s attractions should not come at the expense of regional cities.

Research by The Yorkshire Post in 2014 revealed that the capital received nearly four times as much Arts Council funding per head as Yorkshire.

Ms Streets said: “There is more to done in how distribution of national arts funding makes its way throughout the country... especially if we are talking about Northern Powerhouse.”

She added that arts and culture are vital to the idea of a successful economic counterweight to the capital.

Ms Streets said: “If we want to be that Northern Powerhouse, then arts and culture has to be central to what makes this a vibrant economy.

“Why would you invest here? Why would you as a student for example come to this city, spend your £50,000 on your education, if there was no nightlife, no cultural life, if it felt scruffy, if it felt down, why would you do that?

“The same is true of businesses which might be moving from the South to the North. Businesses which might be investing here, why would you come to the North if it didn’t feel vibrant?

“What we bring to a city like this in terms of cultural vibrancy, in terms of making it attractive, a great place to move your family to, to study here, to invest here, is central.

“If it was just industry and no great theatre, no great parks and no great culture, you would have some big questions about why you would want to move your population there.”

She made the comments in an interview about the Year of Making Sheffield 2016, a year-long festival to celebrate all forms of making. Themes include art and design, manufacturing and industry, film and literature, heritage and placemaking and music and performance.

The festival will feature an exhibition called Made in Sheffield, described by organisers as “a mini-trade show” with exhibits from more than 100 companies.

Ms Streets said the Year of Making will demonstrate what Sheffield and the wider city region can offer the Northern Powerhouse.

She added: “It is saying we are producing excellence across a whole range of areas in this city, we do have global reach. It is about building that profile, building a really strong identity and building confidence and a compelling narrative for Sheffield that says we have a role to play in that.

“It is part of that conversation about funding that comes from the Treasury to the North... it is about building profile and saying we are open for business, we have got some great opportunities here, this is an outstanding place to live, to work, to invest.”

Ms Streets said civic museums in the North are in “peril”. She added: “There are some big risks there as we see central Governnment funding to local authorities decline. We can see that a lot of local authorities are struggling to meet statutory requirements. We are not a statutory requirement.

“We do need funding to make sure our capital thrives. That cannot be at the expense of our regional cities... We have got potential obviously and we are doing brilliant things but it does require fair investment.”

The Made in Sheffield art exhibition will showcase the city region’s creativity, innovation and manufacturing skills, according to a leading industrialist.

Charles Turner, managing director of blade maker Durham Duplex, said some manufactured goods are so well made they can be seen as art.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “In a machine, you cannot see a pump impeller. When you bring it out, it can be a piece of art, it can be beautiful. These things are pleasing to the eye.”

Mr Turner brushed off suggestions that British manufacturing is struggling. He admitted that there are some external pressures, but pointed to the strong manufacturing sector in and around Sheffield.

“It’s a massive manufacturing place,” he added.

The Made in Sheffield exhibition takes place at the Millennium Gallery from July to January 2017.