The Thames Estuary will receive £4.3 million from the government’s Cultural Development Fund to help drive local economic growth through investment in culture, heritage and the creative industries, culture secretary Jeremy Wright has announced.
Led by the University of Kent in partnership with South East Creative Economy Network (SECEN), the funding will be used to kick-start the first phase of their plans to turn the area in North Kent and South Essex into a world-leader for the cultural and creative industries.
The investment will be used to deliver Estuary 2020, an international arts festival reaching audiences locally and across the globe. The programme will also support the creation of approximately 500 creative industry jobs, new workspaces in creative clusters like Margate, Medway and Southend and skills training for more than 200 people. Sixty new apprenticeships will also be opened to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The £20 million Cultural Development Fund has been launched by the Government to use investment in heritage, culture and creativity as a catalyst for regeneration. Towns and cities were invited to bid for funding for local cultural plans tailored to their strengths and needs.
The other winning areas are Grimsby, Plymouth, Wakefield and Worcester.
Culture secretary Jeremy Wright said: “Creativity, arts and heritage make our towns and cities unique and our communities better places to live. The Cultural Development Fund will support tailored local plans that use culture to create jobs, boost tourism and ultimately regenerate communities.
“This funding will directly benefit young people and creative businesses across the Thames Estuary and further the region’s ambitions to be an international centre for culture and the arts.”
Professor Karen Cox, vice chancellor, University of Kent said: “This is fantastic news! The University of Kent welcomes the investment from the Cultural Development Fund as it supports our commitment to collaborating with partners to drive innovation and economic growth in the region and above all to develop this part of the UK as one of the most attractive places to live, work and study.”
The Fund was announced in the Creative Industries Sector Deal last year, and marks a step change in how the government is investing in culture.
It forms part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy which has seen more than £150 million jointly invested by government and industry through the Creative Industries Sector Deal to help cultural and creative businesses across Britain thrive and consolidate the country’s position as a global creative and cultural powerhouse.
The award has been made to the University of Kent, on behalf of the Thames Estuary Production Corridor Partnership, a partnership involving the South East Creative Economy Network (SECEN) and South East Local Enterprise Partnership, Kent and Essex County Councils, 11 local authority areas represented by Thames Gateway Kent Partnership and Opportunity South Essex, the GLA, Royal Docks and seven East London boroughs, University of Kent, University of Essex, and cultural organisations Metal and Whitstable Biennale.
Pictured: Michael Ellis receives tour of Gulbenkian Theatre from Liz Moran, Director of Arts and Culture at the University of Kent