FROM THE CHAMBER: Imagine a world without the arts

By Cllr Sarah Kerr

Creative industries contributed £111 billion to the UK economy in 2018, a 7.4% increase on the previous year. 

This means that at the time, growth in the sector was more than five times larger than growth across the UK economy as a whole. 

Spring forward to now and the pandemic has been cataclysmic for the arts and culture industries and, while there was the £1.57 billion rescue package, the package left an unforgivable gap: individuals. 

The majority of those who work in these industries are self employed or work on short term contracts, and many have found themselves with minimal support. 

The job losses have been huge, with many creatives finding work in other industries in order to survive. 

A large number of them are unlikely to return. 

We now need to look to how we can help these industries recover, and they must recover, not just because of their intrinsic value, but also because they are a strategic resource. 

These industries have a demonstrable impact on education, health and wellbeing, society and our economy, but more importantly, they enrich us and make us human. 

Can you imagine a lockdown without them?  No books, TV, music etc?

Here in Wokingham Borough, there is a lot going on in arts and culture. 

I am proud to be a part of the Wokingham Arts and Culture Alliance where we’re looking more strategically at the sector. 

The Alliance is a partnership of representatives from arts and culture organisations, the borough council  and town and parish councils. 

It is a collaborative process, and we aspire to make Wokingham Borough a cultural destination of the future and further enhance our communities through what is known as place-shaping.   

Place-shaping means using creative powers to influence and promote the general well-being of a community and its citizens. 

It is a way in which local partners can collectively work together to create attractive, safe and prosperous communities, where people want to live and work. 

The new strategy we hope will be approved soon and will be the first strategy of its kind in the borough. 

What will be key though is the actions that come out of it, and I very much look forward
to seeing it come to life. 

 Councillor Sarah Kerr is the Lib Dem lead for Arts and Culture and councillor for the Evendons ward of Wokingham Borough Council


This piece was published in Wokingham.Today

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