The Role of Arts and Heritage in Social and Economic Regeneration

A seminar organised by the Institute for Local Governance which took place at the Dolphin Centre, Darlington, 19th January 2018 from 9.30 – 1.00.

Arts and heritage initiatives, it is often claimed, can make a substantive contribution to social and economic regeneration in addition to their cultural contribution. In bald economic terms, assessing the value of such interventions is not so hard to do. The economic value of the direct local spend on services or employees can be measured, together with estimates of multiplier effects on other activities. But social impact is harder to examine. There are ‘tool kits’ available to assess social impact in a more or less standardised way. But the likelihood is that the contribution has many dimensions and complex and controversial judgements on what constitutes impact.

The aim of this seminar was to get beneath the surface of these issues by exploring interactions between local political and strategic investment in the arts and heritage and the development of tangible, sustainable and well used projects and programmes which can contribute to social, cultural, environmental and economic wellbeing.The purpose of the seminar was therefore not merely to showcase good work, but to explore the challenges which have been overcome in garnering economic and political support for such interventions. It also explored the complexities surrounding funding and delivery of new and innovative projects and energising communities to use them.

The seminar was the first of two seminars on this topic. The second seminar was held in Newcastle on 27th April, entitled “The Power of Arts and Heritage to attract Regional Investment”. This follow-up seminar took forward the issues by bringing together speakers from policy and practice perspectives in the north of the region to debate the principle that ‘nothing stands still’ and that the impetus for political, financial and community investment must be continually nurtured. This is easily said, but how can this happen with so many ‘competing’ demands?

Speakers at the Darlington event on the 19 January 2018 included:

  • Sharon Paterson, Associate Director, Mima (Culture and Engagement), Teesside University: will chair and provide a contextual introduction to the seminar.
  • Linda Tuttiett, Head of Culture and Tourism, Tees Valley Combined Authority: on the accumulated impact of arts and culture on the future social and economic wellbeing of Tees Valley.
  • James Beighton, Director, Tees Valley Arts: on the role of the arts in the diverse communities of Tees Valley.
  • Liz Fisher, Director of Engagement, Auckland Castle Trust: on the social objectives of a major arts and heritage investment in Wear Valley.
  • Lynda Winstanley, Director, Hippodrome Theatre, Darlington: on the contribution of theatre to the economic, social and cultural fabric of the region.

The presentations from the seminar can be downloaded here:

Liz fisher Auckland Castle Trust

Sharon Paterson Contextual-introduction

Lynda Winstanley  Darlington Hippodrome

James Beighton Tees Valley Arts.pptx

Linda Tuttiett Tees Valley Combined Authority