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Vision for culture to support vibrant ‘world-class’ Plymouth for the benefit of all

The Hatchling

An ambitious vision to put culture at the heart of Plymouth’s development has been revealed, supporting and creating hundreds of jobs and businesses while building a world-class cultural offer that attracts visitors and connects communities.

Plymouth Culture – the organisation that supports the city’s cultural sector – has united businesses, stakeholders and city leaders as well as artists, creatives and performers to develop the Culture Plan, which sets out how culture can give Plymouth the economic and creative support it needs to truly prosper.

Culture is vital to Plymouth’s future in a world after the Covid-19 pandemic – the sector currently employs more than 1,500 people, with an estimated 600 indirect jobs supported by it. It accounts for nearly £70 million of economic output per year, and 365 businesses in Plymouth are classed as “arts, entertainment, recreation and other services”.

Despite the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Plymouth has continued to innovate culturally through the crisis with major developments such as The Box opening and projects like the Speedwell ‘No New Worlds’ installation attracting global attention.

This is as well as eye-catching community projects such as impromptu giant puppet parades, guerrilla knitting and a human seagull wandering the city centre – all part of Plymouth’s relentless creative spirit.

The Culture Plan builds on this spirit, aspiring to channel it into making the city an international beacon for culture. It includes:

  • An annual world-class programme of city-wide public events that connect communities.
  • Immediate investment in the city centre.
  • Increasing the number of outdoor and indoor spaces used to host cultural initiatives.
  • Helping develop new music venues and support current venues, as well as creating music-led events in innovative new spaces.
  • A new digital platform under the banner of Culture is Alive that celebrates culture, provides a comprehensive cultural guide, puts the spotlight on the city’s many creatives and helps attract and retain cultural talent.
  • Making sure Plymouth’s cultural offer reaches every community, neighbourhood and person.
  • Using digital technology to make Plymouth the number one city in the UK for immersive experiences.
  • Making sure equality and diversity of voice is embedded at every level of Plymouth’s cultural development.
  • A cultural forum that involves communities in decisions about our cultural programme, including public art and the city’s events programme.
  • Continuing to attract millions in vital funding to the city, building on a trend of investment from important bodies such as Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Culture Plan comes after a year of battling the unprecedented effects of the Covid-19 pandemic but gives an optimistic vision for the city’s future.

Hannah Harris, CEO of Plymouth Culture, said: “This is not simply a strategy for how Plymouth bounces back from the Covid-19 pandemic, albeit it comes at a time when we can consider how we want Plymouth to be in the future, and how we embed culture in it.

“With the opening of significant developments such as The Box, and the arrival of the British Art Show next year – as well as Mayflower 400 putting us in the international spotlight – it is important we put culture at the heart of the city’s future.”

Plymouth Culture has worked with dozens of cultural and creative organisations over the past 12 months to develop the plan – but also businesses and entrepreneurs.

Cllr Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “Quite simply, this strategy is about making great stuff happen. It’s all the things we are really missing right now.

“I want our cultural offer to define us as a playful, welcoming city; a brave city that doesn’t shy away from the global challenges we face and instead continues to take risks, stand up and stand out.”