Research shows over two thirds believe culture on high streets makes for a better place to live

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Research shows over two thirds believe culture on high streets makes for a better place to live
QUAD. Photo: Graham Lucas Commons.

LONDON.- Research published today by Arts Council England shows that 69% of people think having cultural spaces such as theatres, museums, libraries and music venues on their high street makes their local area a better place to live. When people were asked what they would like to see more of on their high streets, culture was the joint most popular answer, alongside shops and ahead of pubs, bars and restaurants.

The findings show particularly strong support for culture in the North and Midlands, where 68% of people said culture made them feel proud of where they lived, compared to a national average of 60%.

With year-on-year high street footfall declining by 43.4% in 2020, the report also gives several examples of how cultural venues can bring visitors back to village, town and city centres, helping to boost local economies and prevent high street decline.

The research found, for example, that the redevelopment of the Storyhouse theatre, cinema and library in Chester led to a 15% increase in footfall to its city centre location, and that ARC arts centre in Stockton draws 110,000 visitors to its local high street each year. Both organisations received investment from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, which has helped to sustain thousands of cultural organisations throughout lockdown, ensuring they can continue to support their local economies after the pandemic.

However, despite evidence of the positive effect these organisations have on their local economies and strong support from the public, only 29% of people said they expected to see more culture on their high streets in the coming years, suggesting a need for further support to meet public demand and help regenerate local economies in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said: “As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, cultural organisations will be essential in bringing visitors back to high streets, helping to drive economic growth, boost community pride and promote wellbeing in villages, towns and cities across the country. We must do everything we can to ensure that cultural organisations are well equipped to play this vital role in our national recovery.”

Download ‘A High Street Renaissance: How arts and culture bring people and pride back to our high streets’ here.

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