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The Beyond the Hype: Re-wiring the Growth Agenda conference in Norwich brought together over one hundred UK cultural leaders, funders and Local Enterprise Partnership representatives. 


Over 24 hours, delegates explored the best new thinking and practice around how culture and the creative industries can play a bigger role in the UK’s economic growth.


BOP presented on two key areas. Senior Consultant Eleanor Jubb, discussed strategies for inclusive growth with Dick Penny from Watershed, Amy Vaughan Director for Touring and East, Arts Council England, and Chris Starkie, CEO of New Anglia LEP. Jonathan Todd, Chief Economist, presented ideas generated from the Cultural Cities Enquiry; you can read more about BOP’s work with this project here.


Takeaways from the conference included:


  • Economic Growth isn’t just about surplus, it is also about wages and who receives them. Cultural organisations often aren’t motivated by making a profit, and even for those that are, profits are often a mechanism to reinvest or to distribute to employees (as the recent announcement of employee ownership at Aardman illustrates). But how wages are shared and who they go to is a key challenge for everyone in the sector. We need to critically review who is benefiting from creative employment and address some difficult issues around diversity and inequality

  • Embrace the gig economy; it is here to stay. For many in the creative sector, this isn’t a new phenomenon. But we do need to think about how to make the gig economy fair and accessible; how do we think creatively about pensions, parental leave and provision for illness when workers move from job to job? How can we develop the pipeline of creative talent when there aren’t training positions for them to develop in? Rose Marley, from SharpFutures in Manchester explained how they are doing just this through matching young people with short term contract opportunities in the film and TV sector

  • Articulate how culture can contribute. We heard from New Anglia LEP about their focus on productivity and inclusive growth, and from Prof Jonothan Neelands on Coventry’s application for Capital of Culture. In both places, the case for culture is linked to wider aims through a clear theory of change. Having this clear local narrative is key to making the case for cultural investment to those outside the sector and the local industrial strategies provide a key opportunity to do this.


The language of growth can be off putting to the cultural sector. But it is essential we encourage dialogue that explores the real value of culture for industrial strategy and economic development. Not because that is all culture can give us, but because through this we can put culture at the centre of inclusive, sustainable development.


Thank you to our hosts, the New Anglia LEP and the National Centre for Writing in Norwich.

Placing culture at the centre of growth

Headlines from the Beyond the Hype conference

Nov 15, 2018

Green Cities helping climate change through culture and sustainability

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How are major cities around the world responding to climate change through cultural policies and programmes?

The Green World Cities of Tomorrow: Culture and Sustainability

Paul Owens

Culture and the Climate Emergency

Apr 22, 2021

5 Priorities for World Cities in the post-covid recovery period

Culture and the Climate Emergency

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Culture and the Recovery: Levelling Up Culture?

Dec 4, 2020

Culture can play an important role in recovery and renewal across the UK, if the right local decision-making is put in place

Culture and the Recovery: Levelling Up Culture?

Callum Lee

Central London’s celebrated

Sep 23, 2020

This focused, coordinated set of measures can not only rescue the sector, but position it to lead the recovery

Central London’s celebrated cultural offer is in peril

Jonathan Todd

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #3

Aug 21, 2020

Three big questions as applications close for Arts Council England’s Cultural Recovery Fund

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #3

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COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #2

Jul 30, 2020

The UK’s £1.57 billion recovery package: priorities for a New Deal

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #2

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COVID-19: Cities, Culture and the 3 ‘P’s: powers, partnerships, place

Jul 20, 2020

Cities are using their unique capabilities to lead recovery and renewal

COVID-19: Cities, Culture and the 3 ‘P’s: powers, partnerships, place

Paul Owens

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #1

Jul 7, 2020

Investing in recovery, planning for transformation

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #1

Paul Owens

COVID-19 is a triple blow to culture and the creative industries

Jun 30, 2020

Recovery and renewal will depend on how we address the three dimensions of the crisis

COVID-19 is a triple blow to culture and the creative industries

Paul Owens

Take planning and collaboration to whole a new level.

Jun 3, 2020

In the face of radical uncertainty leaders and policy-makers will have to take planning and collaboration to whole a new level

‘Plans are useless, planning is essential’

Paul Owens

Relief, Recovery and Renewal

May 13, 2020

Nobody knows what will happen next, but we have a good idea of the three necessary steps out of the crisis

Relief, Recovery and Renewal: navigating our way to a new kind of future

Paul Owens

The Golden Thread in the 2020s

Dec 20, 2019

A cause for optimism

Weaving the Golden Thread into the 2020s

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By BOP Consulting

Jonathan Todd

Chief Economist

Jonathan is an economist with over a decade’s experience in impact assessment and evaluation, and high-level policy experience, particularly within the cultural and creative sectors.

Jonathan Todd - Chief Economist | BOP Consulting

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Jonathan Todd

Jonathan Todd

Chief Economist