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SELEP and Arts Council England to hold Creative High Streets webinar

25 Jan SELEP and Arts Council England to hold Creative High Streets webinar

The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) and Arts Council England have joined forces to provide guidance on the clear, decisive action that can be taken by the cultural and creative sector to breathe new life into our high streets and kickstart a whole new economy for towns.

Ahead of the publication of the report, Creative High Streets, SELEP, Arts Council England and We Made That will be hosting a webinar on Wednesday 2nd February 2022 from 1pm to 2.30pm. This webinar will give insight into how this report provides a clear roadmap and practical guidance for any town in the South East, and speaks to all partners on how they can utilise the creative offering in their area to drive communities back onto the high streets.

Attendees will be able to hear from each of these organisations and how this work plays into their strategic direction for the years ahead. We will also hear from several businesses in the South East who are featured in the report, to find out how this roadmap has already helped their business ventures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic impacted both high streets and the creative sector particularly hard. The ongoing disruption for hospitality and retail also means that our high streets are in danger of becoming obsolete, and this kind of partnership working between organisations and businesses will be crucial to ensuring that our towns and communities flourish and prosper.

In the South East, a fifth of the region’s creative businesses are located within 200m of a high street, and 10% of high street businesses are working within the creative and cultural sector. Despite the turmoil this sector has experienced during the pandemic, 18% of start-ups and new businesses on high streets in the SELEP region were creative in 2020.

Roadmap to help local areas
The report highlights the unparalleled power of partnership working to drive true change and prosperity for local areas, despite the vast size of the South East and the diversity within the region.

The size and variation of the South East means that we are the region to pave the way for the rest of the country, showing how this boost to our creative sector and our high streets can be done with unmitigated success.

Across the region, high streets will have to be reconfigured to respond to a new reality and a different use of space and this will require a step change in the involvement of high streets and creative stakeholders – landowners, businesses, BIDs, public sector, third sector organisations – and communities. It will require all to be the active agents of change, sources of information, and to come together in a way that complements and plugs into the other agencies and agendas in play, including the critical investments of Arts Council England, the historic and emerging agendas of local governments, and the strategies of the creative and cultural sector itself.

The LEP also has a key role to play in the creation of innovative approaches to cultural development in the region, by using its leadership voice, and its investment capabilities, in a way that aligned with its core economic development purpose.

SELEP Deputy Chair Sarah Dance said:

“Enabling and developing strategies for High Street recovery has never been more important. In light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economies of our towns in the South East, the challenges facing our High Streets have accelerated. Yet we have seen new ways of working and innovative ideas led by the creative sector that has begun to change this story.

“This report, jointly funded by SELEP and Arts Council England, presents a detailed evidence base and clear call to action for all stakeholders to take advantage of the growth opportunity for the creative sector in our High Streets. Our ambition is for this report to be a starting point for sustained action, leading to further funding opportunities and projects, and promoting the wider strategic ambitions of SELEP as articulated in the SELEP Economic Recovery and Renewal Strategy.”