Posted on:
12th April, 2019

New guidance for LEPs to embed arts and culture in Local Industrial Strategies

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has issued a 'cultural checklist' for LEPs on how to include all DCMS sectors in their Local Industrial Strategies.

All Local Enterprise Partnerships have been asked by the Government to draft a Local Industrial Strategy. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published a Manual for Connected Growth to provide guidance on how to include all DCMS sectors in a Local Industrial Strategy. 

DCMS and Arts Council England are working to support LEPs to embed the place-shaping power of arts and culture in Local Industrial Strategies. The checklist below sets out how LEPs should approach this:

  • Do you understand the impact of arts and culture on growth?

There is a direct relationship between cultural assets and economic impacts. The cultural sectors are worth over £29 billion annually to the UK economy, accounting for over 600,000 jobs. The sector is growing fast, and has increased in value by 38.5% since 2010. As the jobs most resistant to automation, the cultural and creative industries are part of our future, and creativity will be an increasingly valued skill. 

Culture makes places better to live, work and visit, and for businesses to invest. A strong cultural offer makes a place distinctive, and attracts high skilled workers and retains graduates, which in turn attracts firms and boosts employment opportunities. Culture is particularly important in creating clusters of creative businesses, which depend on the cultural sector in a creative ecology. Culture is also integral to tourism, and creates high footfall locations and strong community pride and identity.  

     2) Do you have strong cultural leadership in your LEP?

Cultural leadership is key. The Government strongly encourages the inclusion of cultural leaders in LEP decision making, including through Board membership or establishing a steering group. This helps a LEP to embed culture in their Local Industrial Strategy, and tell a story about what makes a place distinctive and attractive to live, work and invest.

A recommended steering group model is a ‘Culture Compact’. Compacts bring together a range of partners to embed culture in the life of a place, including in approaches to public health, education and criminal justice. We recommend forging cultural partnerships at all levels e.g. town, city, town, LEP and/or regional level.

    3) Do you have a cultural strategy?

Place-making through culture requires a long term strategic view and investment, with strong leadership of cultural institutions and a community engagement plan so that culture has buy-in from the people. An example of a long term cultural strategies is New Anglia ‘Culture Drives Growth’. Arts Council England can provide support to LEPs in developing cultural strategies.

      4) Have you framed your investment decisions through place-making objectives?

The foundation of place-making is to embed culture as fundamental in a Local Industrial Strategy, and to take all strategic decisions (planning, housing investment, transport investment) with a view to create a place attractive to live, work and visit. To quote Darren Henley, CEO of Arts Council England, “You can build a motorway, but there needs to be something to turn off for”. Culture can attract and integrate new development to create a cohesive place and community. For example, we see great potential in the cultural programme around HS2, to ensure that this infrastructure asset is integrated into the fabric of places and has buy-in from communities.

    5) What interventions deliver culture-led growth?

  1. Physical regeneration: The conversion of underused spaces into cultural venues or affordable spaces for creative businesses can rejuvenate areas, create footfall and attract business investment.
  2. One-off events: One-off events can be used strategically as part of a wider cultural plan, to boost an area through increased visitor spend and bring the community together through shared identity.
  3. Cultural programming: Ongoing cultural programming, for example pop-up performances in empty shops, increases the vibrancy of a place and attracts residents and visitors. Consider spreading the economic impact and cultural celebration throughout a LEP area with local celebrations e.g a Borough of Culture.
  4. Skills and inclusion: Trusted cultural institutions such as libraries and museums can effectively deliver skills, volunteering and public services to hard-to-reach groups. Community-led cultural activity promotes cultural belonging, which helps to inspire people and build a collective identity.
  5. Business environment: The cultural offer builds the business environment - culture is a pull factor for business location decisions, and areas with a culture, sport and heritage offer are more likely to see growth in creative industries. Concentrated cultural investment can create clustering effects, offering benefits of shared infrastructure, knowledge spillovers and innovation. Cultural institutions can assist SMEs to grow through small business support and commercialising IP - for example the British Library National Network.

Next steps?

Contact your Arts Council England Area Team via to start the conversation about how culture can make a success of your Local Industrial Strategy.