WITH its glorious seafront location, Bournemouth is used to welcoming tourists in the summer months.

But as autumn draws in, the excellent arts provision here takes centre stage – a world class orchestra, a celebrated festival of arts and culture, a major hub for dance – and it’s this cultural offer that places it firmly on the map as a cultural destination, whatever the weather.

Recently, we published a report from the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) that demonstrates the positive impact arts and culture has on our economy and the key role it will play for the nation’s future prosperity.

The report shows that in 2018, arts and culture contributed over £13.5billion to the UK economy, employed more people than Sainsbury’s, supported growth of the wider creative industries, and is larger than agricultural, forestry and fishing industries combined.

This latest research also shows that the government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund – the biggest single investment in the arts in the country’s history – will help the sector to bounce back a full year earlier than initially expected, enabling our creative and cultural organisations to play a vital role in our national recovery. 

Despite the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought, cultural organisations are returning with tenacity and imagination to help kickstart the local economy.

For the first time since March, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is back on stage at its home base, Lighthouse Poole, for a powerful autumn season.

The stage has been extended to accommodate the full symphonic orchestra, with musicians maintaining a two-metre distance.

The annual Arts by the Sea festival wrapped up recently, with an impressive line-up of live and digital events. Festival highlights included an amazing light installation by Ithaca in central Bournemouth, and a monumental sea of flags by Luke Jerram over at Sandbanks.

The government’s £1.57bn investment – a portion of which the Arts Council is delivering – is an unequivocal vote of confidence in the value that cultural organisations create.

Creativity and culture bring communities together, create good jobs, increase footfall to high streets and – as we’ve all discovered in lockdown – help to enrich our lives, which is why cultural investment is so important for our national recovery.


Area director, Arts Council England, South West