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UK Cities Culture Report 2015

We revealed that local leaders believe devolution of power will help revitalise their cities. Austerity has hit city authorities and their cultural organisations hard, but has also stimulated innovation and entrepreneurism within their cultural sectors.

UK cities

Last week we launched the UK Cities Culture Report. We revealed that local leaders believe devolution of power will help revitalise their cities. 


Austerity has hit city authorities and their cultural organisations hard, but has also stimulated innovation and entrepreneurism within their cultural sectors. These innovations need sustained public support to mature.


There is much to digest within today’s Spending Review. As ever, the devil is in the yet-to-be-announced detail. But the first impression is that cultural funding fares well. DCMS has its modest administrative budget cut by 20%, but Arts Council England escapes any cut. A new tax relief for museums and galleries is under consideration. A medley of individual projects is favoured, including £1m for Hull’s City of Culture and £5m for restoration of the Burrell Collection. £20m goes towards the intriguing-sounding Great Exhibition of the North and other cultural projects in the Northern Powerhouse. Earlier this week it was revealed that The Factory in Manchester will receive £9m revenue funding per year, on top of £78m capital.


The impact on local government support for culture is harder to predict. The Treasury’s funding of local government will be smashed by £6.1bn by 2019-20. This cut might be balanced by new devolved budgets and the local retention of business rates income, across all local authorities. But income from business rates varies hugely between places. Could towns and cities with a poor business base get locked into a spiral of reduced funds and reduced ability to stimulate growth? Will the £400m Northern Powerhouse investment fund proactively target such cold spots? We’re sure our friends at Core Cities UK will provide a comprehensive analysis soon.



BOP believes that city authorities need to assume a new role as “enablers” within a distributed network of cultural organisations. 


City authorities will have a particular role in articulating the collective vision, brokering partnerships, and bringing new money to the table for culture. As Bridget McConnell, Chief Executive of Glasgow Life, said in the UK Cities Culture Report:


The public sector must provide the framework within which a strong, collegiate leadership can build a vision and plan for the next decade around a powerful and coherent vision and re-articulation of a new phase in culture-led regeneration


We hope that once the dust settles on the Spending Review, all our cities will be able to embrace this new role. This is not just a psychological shift: real resources are still needed. As George Osborne said today, culture is “among the best investments we can make”.

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Investing in recovery, planning for transformation

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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

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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’

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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

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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

Alex Homfray

Associate Director

Alex leads on cultural destinations and regeneration for BOP. He has more than fifteen years of experience of working with local authorities, national agencies and cultural organisations.

Alex Homfray - Associate Director | BOP Consulting

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Alex Homfray

Alex Homfray

Associate Director