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A bright cultural future

Schoolchildren are to be better connected with culture, under new plans put forward by Warrington’s Cultural Commission.

The commission, set up earlier this year to help map out Warrington’s cultural future, has drawn up 15 recommendations, aimed at making the borough a place where culture can thrive and prosper.

Among the recommendations is the establishment of a Local Cultural Education Partnership, which will provide a strategic plan for building culture into young people’s lives. This will include the appointment of young people and staff as cultural ambassadors in schools and youth groups; professional development for teachers; and encouraging schools to provide high quality guidance for careers in the arts.

Other key recommendations include:

  •          Establish a culture board and an independent cultural consortium to deliver an ambitious and expanding cultural agenda in Warrington, which reflects the increasing diversity within the borough.
  •          Develop a business case for a community arts venue within the borough.
  •          Cultural commissioners, planners and developers to work closely together to ensure that town centre and other developmental plans incorporate arts, culture and heritage.
  •          Capitalise on Warrington’s economic growth to secure ongoing cultural investment.
  •          Develop an innovative, contemporary arts programme to be run throughout the borough.

Commission Chair, Adrian Friedli, said:  “We have worked hard to harness the energy and cultural appetite that exists in Warrington, and I believe our recommendations reflect this. I’m delighted with the innovative ideas brought forward – informed by what arts and cultural opportunities people want to see. It gives us a fantastic opportunity to place culture at the heart of the rapid growth that is taking place in the borough.”

Warrington Borough Council’s executive board member for culture and partnerships, Cllr Dan Price, added: “These recommendations are deliberately ambitious, because we should not hold back on our aspirations. We recognise the vital part culture plays in modern, dynamic and successful communities, and we want this strong cultural focus to characterise the next period in our development, as a place that is confident, vibrant, creative and people-centred.”

As part of its work, the Commission held a consultation to gather public opinion about the current cultural offer in Warrington and how people would like to see it being developed in the future. Prominent views were that people are unsure what Warrington’s identity is; and that heritage and history are an important part of developing a sense of place and character.

This feedback is reflected in one of the Commission’s recommendations, which is to establish an identity for Warrington, which develops a strong sense of shared vision, with culture at its heart.

Further recommendations from the Commission include forging stronger regional, national and international cultural partnerships; developing existing town centre assets into
attractive, thriving venues with a varied cultural programme; and working collaboratively to ensure that culture and arts help tackle Warrington’s biggest health, wellbeing and social issues.

All documents relating to the commission, its members and activity to date can be by visiting www.warrington.gov.uk and typing ‘Cultural Commission’ into the search box.

About the Cultural Commission

  •          Set up to build on the work already carried out as part of last year’s City of Culture bid and the feedback received, the Commission is made up of leading individuals from arts, culture, business and the third sector.
  •          The work of the Commission included a ‘desk top review’, looking at the cultural assets Warrington currently holds, and future development possibilities. It also explores international, national and local research into the impacts of investment in culture on people’s health, well-being and lifestyles, the economy and on the identity of the place itself.

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