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Cultural tourism: how Arts Council England helps the North enhance its appeal The pull exerted on both overseas and domestic tourists by arts and culture is strong: at least £856 million of annual spending by visitors to the UK can be directly attributed to their influence. Two of Arts Council England’s strategic goals in particular play an important part in ensuring that the standard of this cultural offer in each area remains high and that everyone has access to it. They are goals one (excellence is thriving and celebrated in the arts, museums and libraries) and two (everyone has the opportunity to experience and be inspired by the arts, museums and libraries). The cultural offer in the North of England has never been stronger. With our major cities presenting large-scale festivals, popular public free events attracting people from all over the world for their first visits to the region, annual festivals in urban and rural areas bringing in thousands of fresh visitors and imaginative use of heritage venues throughout the region, the North is rightly established as a key destination for cultural tourists.


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Cities that deliver

Hull’s bid to secure the title of UK City of Culture 2017 – and its ultimate success in doing so – is a prime example of the transformative power of culture: Hull took the decision to put arts and culture at the heart of its regeneration as it aims to re-establish its reputation as a gateway to the UK. In 2013 the city was awarded a £3 million Arts Council England Creative people and places grant to develop the city’s cultural offer. This brought together a consortium of organisations including Artlink, Hull Truck Theatre, Volcom, Hull City Council and Hull and East Yorkshire Community Foundation and led to the development of the strategy that secured the title for the city. Plans are now in train for a 365 day programme of 1500 events, including 25 festivals in and around the city in 2017. The city predicts it will welcome seven million visitors during its special year. The core programme will be supported by up to £3 million funding from the Arts Council.

Hull city of culture. Credit: Neil Holmes


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Liverpool Sea Odyssey Giant Spectacular. Credit: Ant Clausen

Hull is just at the start of this journey, but several of the North’s great cities – Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Durham – are already well established as important cultural tourist destinations, often enhancing their regular offer of nationally acclaimed art galleries, theatres, museums, heritage sites, concert halls and orchestras with tailor-made festivals. Liverpool builds continually on the legacy of its year as European City of Culture 2008. Between 23 -27 July 2014 the city stages the nation’s flagship cultural event marking 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War. Memories of August 1914 is commissioned jointly by Liverpool City Council and 14-18 NOW, the First World War Centenary Cultural Programme, to which we are contributing £5 million of lottery funding. It will be brought to Liverpool by street theatre tour de force Royal De Luxe, who captivated crowds of 800,000 people in Liverpool in 2012 with the Giant spectacular Sea Odyssey, generating £32 million for the local economy. Every two years the city also hosts the Liverpool Biennial, the largest international contemporary art festival in the UK. The 2014 festival runs from 5 July -26 October. It is entitled A Needle Walks into a Haystack, curated by Mai Abu ElDahab and Anthony Huberman and takes place across the city at venues including the former Trade Union Centre, the Bluecoat, FACT and Tate Liverpool. This year’s artist-in-residence is Nicole Voevodin-Cash.


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Manchester Literature Festival, Sarah Churchwell reading, 2013. Credit: Jon Parker Lee

Since the first Biennial in 1999, over 279 artists from 72 countries have presented artwork in Liverpool. Supported by Arts Council England, Liverpool City Council, the European Regional Development Fund 2007- 2013 and Founding Supporter James Moores, the Liverpool Biennial attracted 692,000 visitors to the city over its 10 week run in 2012. In that year 12 per cent of the Biennial audience came from abroad and 31 per cent visited from outside the North West region, mainly from London and the South East. The Biennial generated £21 million of economic impact in 2012 and since 2004, it has contributed over £98.9 million to Liverpool’s economy. Manchester International Festival, also biennial, prides itself on being the world’s first and only festival of new work. The 18-day festival in 2013 featured over 300 performances of more than 30 new commissions and special events. It included Kenneth Branagh’s acclaimed Macbeth, Maxine Peake’s impassioned recitation of Shelley’s The Masque of Anarchy, thrilling live art from Tino Sehgal, and the iconoclastic film/gig hybrid Massive Attack v Adam Curtis. The xx performed in a secret space under Victoria Station and participatory group show do it 2013 took over Manchester Art Gallery with works by more than 100 artists including Ai Weiwei, Sarah Lucas, Yoko Ono and Richard Wentworth, while the groundbreaking Biospheric Project saw an industrial space in Salford transformed into an experimental space for urban growing and design. Audiences for the 2013 festival are estimated at around


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250,000, an increase of 10 per cent on the 2011 event. Around 75 per cent of audiences came from Greater Manchester, with the rest from other parts of the UK and beyond, including visitors from more than 45 countries. Acclaim for the festival has been international, with the New Yorker describing it in July 2013 as ‘probably the most radical and important arts festival today’. The next festival runs from 2-19 July 2015. Another major festival hosted by Manchester and supported by the Arts Council is Manchester Literature Festival, bringing high quality live literature to the city and showcasing the very best in contemporary writing. Contributors to the 2013 festival included Jo Nesbo, Ali Smith, Jackie Kay, Carlos Acosta, Lionel Shriver and cult author Neil Gaiman. 9,682 people attended in 2013, a 20 per cent increase on the previous year, with 29 per cent of them travelling from outside Greater Manchester. The 2014 festival runs from 6-19 October. Durham, too, has a book festival, which reached over 8,000 people in 2013. But the city is known for Lumiere , the light festival which on three occasions has delighted audiences with a spectacular raft of installations and projections illuminating Durham’s buildings, streets and public spaces. Managed by Artichoke and supported by Durham County Council, Arts Council England and Lottery funds, Lumiere 2013 entertained 175,000 people. The 27 installations included the world’s biggest helium balloon, a phone box filled with real fish, a Christmas Tree made out of 3,000 plastic bags donated by the public and a giant 3D projection of an elephant stomping down Durham’s famous Elvet Bridge. In September 2014 The Great North Run will be the first event of its kind in the world to have its one millionth finisher cross the line. This landmark moment will be celebrated by an ambitious programme of events and exhibitions exploring and celebrating the North East’s sporting and industrial heritage with an opening ceremony on Thursday 4 September. In 2013, 544,000 visitors attended the festival which included 21 events over 70 days; 20 per cent of visitors were from elsewhere in the UK and 11 per cent were international visitors. The Arts Council has supported the programme with an Exceptional award of £400,000.


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Festival of Thrift. Credit: Sasa Savic

A flourish of festivals

In fact the North has a real strength in festivals – not only in the big cities – that are supported by the Arts Council, and which draw visitors in to the area. On the literary front the wellestablished Ilkley Literature festival is renowned for its substantial outreach and learning programme; for its support of poets in residence; and not least for its collaboration in 2012 with Simon Armitage on the Stanza Stones project. The 2013 festival attracted 26,515 people – the festival’s largest ever audience – to 248 events over 17 days across 20 venues. This was a 1.5 per cent increase on the numbers attending in 2012 and audiences have in fact risen exponentially year on year for 11 years: from 3,000 in 2003 to 26,515 in 2013, an overall increase of 1275 per cent. The 2014 festival runs from 3-19 October. Another new festival mounted in 2013 for the first time was out on its own in terms of content: the Festival of Thrift, which describes itself as ‘the first national festival that celebrated the fun that can be had ‘on the cheap ‘. It was held at Lingfield Point in Darlington


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in the enormous Paton & Baldwins knitting yarn factory, which has been lovingly ‘upcycled’ by the Marchday company for use by small businesses. The festival attracted an estimated 27,000 people to its weekend of workshops, talks, entertainment, food and thrifty shopping. Partners supporting the festival alongside the Arts Council included Darlington Borough Council, Creative Darlington and Teesside University. The 2014 Festival will be over the weekend of 27-28 September and has also been funded by our Grants for the arts programme with £80,000. Hull’s Freedom Festival is a mix of music, dance, theatre, poetry, visual arts and comedy, taking place over the whole of the city. It grew out of commemorations in Hull in 2007 of the 200th anniversary of William Wilberforce’s Act of Parliament abolishing the slave trade in the British Empire and has become an annual highlight of the city’s artistic and cultural programme. More than 80,000 people filled the streets of Hull for the 2013 festival, a significant increase on the previous year’s attendance and an indication of how the festival is growing year on year. The festival generated more than £2 million expenditure in Hull and 92 per cent of businesses surveyed agreed that the festival boosts the city’s image and impacts positively on the city’s cultural scene. The 2014 festival runs from 5 -7 September. The Freedom Festival is one of Arts Council England’s National portfolio organisations and also received £240,000 through our Catalyst funding programme A festival with a different focus, the AV Festival of contemporary art, film and music, takes place every two years across the North East in around 30 venues and public sites, primarily in Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and Middlesbrough. Each festival is thematically curated – the 2014 theme was Extraction: it explored the raw materials that create our experience of the world and featured 11 exhibitions, 36 film screenings, 10 concerts and 11 new commissions. The AV Festival is built on collaboration. Partners include major regional visitor attractions and venues, artist-led spaces, universities, and heritage sites, including: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, The Sage Gateshead, mima, Tyneside Cinema, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art. Support comes not only from the Arts Council but also from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, BFI Film Forever National Lottery funding and The Henry Moore Foundation. The AV Festival has seen festival-on-festival growth in visitor figures from 6,395 in 2003 to 94,096 in 2012, 2014 figures are still awaited. 24 per cent of its visitors in 2012 came from


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outside the region. The 2012 festival contributed £516,000 added value to the local economy, and achieved a return on investment of £2.88 for every £1 of public funding received. On a bigger scale, 2014 sees an unprecedented festival across the whole of Yorkshire: The Yorkshire Festival 2014 is a 100-day arts and cultural festival which runs from 27 March to the start of the Tour de France in Leeds on 5 July. Creating excitement and anticipation in advance of this first visit to the North of England by Le tour, the Festival has commissioned 47 projects that are officially part of the festival. There are hundreds of fringe events, too. The Arts Council has funded the festival with a grant of nearly £1 million alongside other supporters Yorkshire Water and Yorkshire local authorities. The festival, which seeks to position Yorkshire as the cultural heartland of the UK, is run by Welcome to Yorkshire. Among the highlights are a Ghost Peloton led by Phoenix Dance Theatre and Scottish public arts charity NVA, which incorporates a riding team of 50 road racers, stunt cyclists and large-scale projection of dancers all utilising unique remote controlled light suits to produce a stunning live choreography. Other key contributions include Maxine Peake’s play Beryl at the Yorkshire Playhouse about Morley cyclist Beryl Burton; and eight stunning major land art pieces created across the South Pennines by young farmers and artists, co-ordinated by Pennine Prospects.

Jonathan Borofsky, Molecule Man. Credit: Jonty Wilde


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In another grand gesture, Los Angeles-based sculptor Thomas Houseago, has been lured back to his home county of Yorkshire, to create two giant sculptures for Leeds city centre and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park .This is the first time a new work by Houseago has been exhibited in Yorkshire and is the first ever commission to be made by the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle.

Ursula von Rydingsvard, Bronze Bowl with Lace, 2014, bronze. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Lelong and YSP. Credit: Jonty Wilde


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Partnerships pay off

The Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle comprises four major venues with outstanding sculpture collections – Yorkshire Sculpture Park , Hepworth Wakefield, the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Art Gallery. As their collaborative website puts it: four leading venues, 200 artists, 20 miles apart. The four work together to create a unique offering for visitors. They share social media as well as the website, which puts together everything a visitor needs to organise an afternoon, day or weekend visiting one or more of these unique venues. The Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle was created in 2013 to build on the region’s unique sculpture heritage as the birthplace of two of the most important 20th century sculptors, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. It establishes Yorkshire as a new world centre for sculpture and the best place in Europe to see contemporary and modern sculpture for free. The four

The Clockwork Forest by Greyworld on the Ridding Wood Trail in Grizedale Forest. Credit: Steven Barber


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galleries between them brought one million visitors to Yorkshire in 2013. In 2014 the partnership will help to boost the region’s tourism economy by signposting visitors to the impressive hotels and restaurants within easy reach of the attractions: it is estimated that approximately £21 million will be brought into the region over the next 12 months through the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle (based on an average spend per visitor of £21). Successful partnerships are also at the heart of the consortia in the North who secured four of the 10 awards made recently via the Arts Council’s Cultural destinations programme. Part of a partnership between the Arts Council and the national tourist board VisitEngland, the programme enables arts and cultural organisations, working with Destination Management Organisations, to increase their reach, engagement and resilience through working with the tourism sector. The awards run from March 2014 for a maximum of three years. The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal and its partners have been awarded £324,000 for a project whose aim is to maintain Cumbria’s reputation as one of the UK’s leading rural cultural tourism destination. It will do this by representing and celebrating a long-established model to create innovative and often revolutionary art in small and intimate places, which are rooted in the Lake District landscape, to a new contemporary audience. Alongside the Brewery the consortium includes Cumbria Tourism, Lakeland Arts Trust, Wordsworth Trust, Grizedale Sculpture, Kendal Arts International, Theatre by the Lake, Lake District National Park Authority, National Trust and South Lakeland District Council. Cumbria currently attracts 14.8 million tourists who between them spend £994 million a year (2012 figures). In Liverpool the £316,500 awarded from the Cultural destinations programme is enabling the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and other members of Liverpool Arts and Regeneration Consortium (LARC) to work with cultural organisations, Liverpool City Council, Liverpool City Region LEP and other visitor economy organisations in the city to identify new ways of using the existing arts and culture offer to support the business tourism agenda. Across the Pennines the Sheffield Cultural Partnership has been awarded £271,390 from our Cultural Destinations programme to extend its existing creative signposting and support the city’s festivals. The consortium includes Sheffield Theatres, Museums Sheffield, Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust, Site Gallery, Yorkshire Artspace, Sheffield International Venues, University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, Workstation/Showroom, Marketing Sheffield, Doc/Fest, Tramlines, Off The Shelf, Art Sheffield and Festival of the Mind. Among the projects that will benefit from the funding is the popular and imaginative website Our


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Favourite Places – ‘The Sheffield city guide with the creative heart’ – which has already received Grants for the arts funding. Square Chapel Trust and partners, who received £292,500 from the Cultural Destinations programme, will use arts and culture to boost tourism in the region, encourage more overnight stays and develop collaborative packages for tourists. It will be run jointly by Calderdale Council, Halifax Minster, Halifax Festival, Eureka! The National Children’s Museum and the Piece Hall as well as council-run venues such as the Victoria Theatre, Bankfield Museum and the new Central Library and Archive.

Cultural tourism  

The pull exerted on both overseas and domestic tourists by arts and culture is strong: at least £856 million of annual spending by visitors...

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