By Ricky Hamilton,2014-07-04 08:07
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A Cultural Strategy for Southend on Sea

2012 - 2020


     1. Foreword

    2. Introduction

     3. The changing context for the Cultural Strategy

     4. Why Culture matters

     5. What do our community and visitors want?

    6. The Vision for an improved service

     7. Southend’s priorities



    Southend is a great place to live, work and visit and we would like

    it to be even better

    Our Cultural offering plays an important role in the Borough from the provision of physical activities, relaxation, stimulation of the mind and making the borough attractive to the regeneration of our community.

    We have made a number of significant improvements to the provision and

    development of culture over recent years. Despite the current financial situation,

    these are still exciting times for Culture in the Borough. We look set to welcome a

    new cultural Centre situated at the end of our world famous Pier in 2012 and are in

    an enviable position with the development of our new ?27m library facility, the Forum, which is due for completion in the autumn of 2013. The provision of an integrated municipal and academic public library alongside a modern teaching facility

    for the College and stimulating research and learning environment for the University will be one of only a small handful of other like facilities in the country. The tri-partite

    partnership between the Council, the College and the University is already ensuring

    that the provision of library services in the borough is modern, sustainable and able to meet the needs of a diverse community.

    The investment in Southend has been a great catalyst for bringing high quality art into the Borough through Metal and Focal Point Gallery. Southend is increasingly

    being described by our partners as a cultural hub in the region with the highest

    levels of museum visits and engagement with the arts in Essex.

We are not complacent about the challenges facing Culture and the Public Sector;

    these challenges look set to remain for several years to come. We do, however, remain ambitious for the cultural development of the Borough; the fact that we are

    still able to invest for the future during such challenging economic conditions

    demonstrates how important culture is to our future prosperity and wellbeing.

    This document sets out a range of activities to take forward our overall aims so that we can all benefit from the cultural opportunities in Southend. It also recognises that

    delivery will only be possible by engaging with partners that exist or need to be developed within the Borough.

    Working with our partners we will maximise opportunities for culture to

    flourish in our town and be experienced by all.

Derek Jarvis Rob Tinlin

    Portfolio Holder for Culture & Tourism Chief Executive & Town Clerk



    Southend has a considerable range of cultural resources, the strength of which lies in the breadth and depth of its history, its position beside the Thames Estuary and the number of cultural facilities and opportunities provided. With a mixture of both traditional and modern offerings and the establishment of the University of Essex within the town centre, it is fast becoming a cultural hub for people of all ages and backgrounds.

    Southend-on-Sea Borough Council spends ?14.6 Million per annum (based on 2011/12 forecast) on cultural activities in the borough; it is therefore an important aim of this cultural strategy to target future spending and to dovetail its aims and ambitions with the many regional and local agencies and organisations.

This document represents a refresh of our previous strategy; “Culture for a Better

    Southend” which spanned the period 2007-12. Much has moved on since “Culture for a

    Better Southend” was produced; this new cultural strategy provides a longer term

    manifestation of our ambitions for Culture within the Borough, whilst still being aligned to our previously stated vision for Southend-on-Sea:

To be recognised as the cultural and leisure capital of the East of England”.

    This strategy provides an overarching document for the cultural services we have in the council and beyond and outlines our key strategic objectives. Supporting the delivery of this strategy will be a suite of related strategies and delivery / action plans covering the key areas of Sport & Leisure, Museums & Heritage, The Arts, Libraries, Green Space and the Southend Regeneration Framework 2007-21 and the Economic Development and Tourism Strategy, providing detailed information on how each of the components of Culture in the borough will deliver our key objectives (see fig1 below):

     Southend-on-Sea Cultural

    Figure 1 Strategy

     2012 / 2020

     Sport & Museums The Arts Economic Green Libraries Leisure & Heritage Delivery / Development Space Development Strategy Delivery / Action & Tourism Delivery / Plan 2012 / 2015 Action Plan Plan Strategy 2010 Action Plan


3. The changing context for the Cultural


    The political and local landscape has changed considerably since Culture for a Better Southend was written. Southend has made significant progress over the last 5 years in developing both its cultural and leisure community together with an improving supportive infrastructure. A developing cultural and leisure offer together with increased participation has already started to challenge perceptions with many national organisations and individuals, like “Jude Kelly”, raising our profile.

    Leisure and culture are important both directly and indirectly for local and regional employment. The creative and cultural industries are one of Southend‟s key business sectors and are being supported and represented in the decision making process of the Southend Business Partnership. This recognition helps facilitate the strong amateur infrastructure across the borough into an economic and social driver. All of this will have a

    significant catalytic effect by improving Southend‟s image to high value added companies. Evidence clearly links cultural and leisure development with economic success. Partners in Southend recognise this and have fully supported cultural and leisure development within the borough. Lifestyle benefits of a strong cultural and leisure offer are a key factor with investment decisions.


Southend: A cultural centre: In line with the priorities stated in our Regeneration

    Framework (2007-2021) Southend is establishing itself as a cultural hub at the centre of the Thames Gateway South East sub-region. The town has a significant concentration of creative and cultural businesses located in the Borough, particularly in the town centre, and the centres of Leigh and Westcliff. Whilst the creative and cultural industries have significant employment and wealth generating capacity, experience from elsewhere suggests that they also have the ability to create a step change in the economy, attracting new, ambitious people to Southend and helping the town retain some of the spending power of residents that work in London. A flourishing cultural and creative sector will help to shift wider perceptions of the town, to the benefit of the tourism and leisure industry and inward investment prospects. The cultural offer is firmly presented as a significant part of pitches made by the council to potential inward investors.

    The extent to which the borough is now seen as a leading cultural centre can be demonstrated through the success and recognition of two of our leading arts organisations, Focal Point Gallery and Metal, both of which have successfully attracted significant increases in their funding from the Arts Council England as part of their National Portfolio funding programme. During a time when funding for such organisations is generally falling, the confidence in these organisations is great credit to Southend.


New, Innovative Artistic Groups and Organisations - September 2009 saw the official

    opening of Chalkwell Hall, the new headquarters for Metal Culture; an independent artistic organisation championing innovative ideas that shift the thinking in cultural communities.

    Metal is proving an exemplary facilitator and catalyst for combined arts innovation through its artistic programme and strategic work, galvanising and energising the cultural life of the Borough. Progress includes; a growing online arts and culture forum found at, an artist-led temporary arts project led by Coexist providing the first independent artist led studios and gallery space in Southend, a new large scale arts festival Village Green that, within its first three years, developed an audience of over 28,000 and has been able to attract headline acts.

Development of the Feast of Festivals - The boroughs programme of cultural activities

    and events is now formulated around a feast of festivals, which include; The Festival of the air, Festival of the sea, Polish festival, Southend Festival, Multicultural festival and Southend Film festival in addition to an annual book festival and the Literature of the Sea festival. This council led activity has also encouraged external organisers to make Southend their preferred choice for events making a varied, year round offer. Award winning Parks we have amassed an impressive array of awards and accolades

    for our parks, open spaces and our Parks Team. The Council has been a regular winner at Hampton Court Flower show, the Anglia in Bloom Competition and the Green Flag Awards, with four of current parks achieving this prized status. Our Parks Department successfully raised the profile of the Borough by creating their floral exhibit entitled 'A Great Day Out on Sea', which took pride of place in the ' Seaside ' category of the Southbank‟s Festival of Britain celebrations, running from April September 2011. It is

    estimated that some 2million people visited this exhibition.

    Running Sisters - a fitness scheme encouraging women to take up running, received the BBC East Power of Sport award in December 2009. The award recognises sustainable projects that have increased the number of people taking part in Sport.

    Opportunities in Sport over ?30,000 has been invested during the past 2 years in

    developing sporting opportunities within the borough, Club convention days, Club open days, sporting taster sessions, mums on the move, table tennis opportunities are just some initiatives to encourage the borough‟s residents to participate in active recreation on a regular basis. A further range of sports and activities will be supported as part of Southend‟s 2012 Legacy.

    Southend Swimming & Diving Centre The ?13.5 million development opened in

    autumn 2010, providing the only Olympic Class diving opportunities within the East of England. The new Diving facility at Garon Park has secured a letter of intent from the British Olympic Diving Team to use the venue as their pre-games training site for the 2012 Olympics. Further investment into the towns other two public pools has improved

    satisfaction and use. The facility is proving to be an excellent facility in attracting young people to diving. To date over 2,000 children have had the opportunity to try diving through the Talent Identification for Diving in Southend Scheme which has been carried out in partnership with our local schools; from this 20 prospective divers have been identified to join elite squads and lessons are now available to all members of the community.


Development of an Official LOCOG Training Venue The towns major leisure and

    fitness centre at Garon Park has been accepted as an Official training venue for the 2012 Olympics and work has been undertaken to further enhance the facility through the refurbishment of the running track, tennis courts and services to cater for visiting teams.

    Cultural Olympiad The borough has a member‟s working party to develop cultural events and activities especially for the cultural Olympiad. The programme was launched in 2008 with a seafront spectacular as the main event and the coming together of 5 Community Special Schools in a celebration to mark the Paralympics. The programme has been varied and comprehensive providing excitement and opportunities for all, culminating with a spectacular “Sparks will Fly” event in June 2012 and the passing of the thOlympic Torch Relay through the Town on 6 July 2012. The legacy of this activity aims

    to be the continuing close liaison of the various groups involved in the overall Sparks Will Fly activity and its community board should last into the future.

Investment within Cultural Infrastructure - Over the last 5 years the Council has

    invested in excess of ?22 million pounds into the boroughs cultural infrastructure. In

    addition to the major projects shown work has been undertaken to:

    ; Invest in the theatres infrastructure

    ; Refurbish the boroughs playgrounds

    ; Refurbish leisure centres and swimming pools

    ; Invest in the museum displays and visitors offer

    ; Invest within green areas & open spaces

    ; Refurbish Warrior Square Gardens

    ; St John‟s churchyard public realm refurbishment

    ; Refurbish Southchurch Hall

    ; Refurbish Prittlewell Priory and build a new Visitor Centre

Cultural and Creative Industries -The aspiration for Southend‟s cultural and creative

    industries is for them to lie at the heart of a distinctive identity for the town, meshing together the University, a renewed tourism and events programme, and local creative businesses. This aspiration has been articulated in regional and sub regional plans, in which Southend is envisaged as a Cultural and educational hub for the Thames Gateway sub-region.

    Close partnerships between the University, public bodies and the creative centre Metal have placed the creative industries in a central role in local regeneration activities, encouraging firms to start, locate, grow or make connections within Southend, and involving local communities in cultural projects.

    The Digital Exploration Centre is only one example of several public sector-led investments in the creative and cultural industries. The DEC project arises from the recognition that there are very few organisations working with digital technologies in the UK that bring together business, the arts, entrepreneurship, academic research and public entertainment. This mix of creative invention, the generation and transfer of knowledge, and its foundational link to business and commerce, makes the DEC the ideal regeneration project for the region.

    New exhibitions, collaborations and projects are developing apace, driving the DEC's growth as an emerging and important player in the world of creative technology.



    Following the general election in May 2010, the new coalition government set out their plans for public sector reform during their period of office; this included immediate plans to reduce the national deficit and tackle economic recovery, reduce bureaucracy and make central and local government more efficient and increase accountability at a local level.

    The Localism Act 2011 was passed on 15 November 2011. Taken together, the measures in the Act mean:

1. New freedoms and flexibilities for local government

    2. New rights and powers for local communities

    3. Reform to make the planning system clearer, more democratic and more effective 4. Reform to ensure that decisions about housing are taken locally

    The Act allows for community groups to buy local assets such as pubs, shops and libraries, and to run local services.

    The Localism Act has the potential to effect a significant change in national life, passing power to a local level, creating space for local authorities to lead and innovate, and giving people the opportunity to take control of decisions that matter to them. Together with other, wider Government reforms, putting the Act into practice will represent a major milestone towards the transfer of power and control set out in the coalition agreement. The Government published its vision for Big Society; a policy initiative building on

    generations of theories and ideas about empowering communities, civic action and community ownership of public services.

    Regional Development Agencies were replaced by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP): locally-owned partnerships between local authorities and businesses which play a central role in determining local economic priorities and undertaking activities to drive economic growth and the creation of local jobs. Southend is now part of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, the largest LEP in England.

    The way in which we collect performance information changed as the use of National Indicators discontinued in October 2011 making accountability for performance a locally determined issue. For Culture, the exception to this is the continuation of Sport England‟s

    Active People Survey which collects data on participation in sport.

    The Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) subsequently announced its plans to abolish or reform 19 out of its 55 Public Bodies, including the abolition of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and the Advisory Council on Libraries, transferring their responsibilities to Arts Council England in October 2011. The National Archives will take on leadership of the UK‟s archives sector from the MLA. It is hoped that these

    changes will help to bring about better and more accessible museums, library and archive services for the public.



    Local authorities spend ?3.2 billion annually on cultural services, including sport. Much of that expenditure is in partnership with the Governments Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and its various sponsored bodies

    The DCMS is the Department responsible for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and also for helping to drive the Digital Economy. Their aim is to improve the quality of life for all through cultural and sporting activities, to support the pursuit of excellence and to champion the tourism, creative and leisure industries.

    The DCMS has few statutory powers in relation to local authorities; its principal role is to help local authorities improve their performance and to identify best practice within cultural services, which include arts, sport, children‟s play, museums, libraries, archives, tourism, architecture, design and conservation of the historic environment. DCMS is responsible for 51 public bodies responsible for distributing public money to local Government, local organisations and individuals. Their regional structures are key to the delivery of DCMS‟s strategic aims and objectives of:

    ; Opportunity encourage more widespread enjoyment of culture, media and sport

    ; Excellence support talent and excellence in culture, media and sport

    ; Economic impact realise the economic benefits of the Department‟s sectors

    ; Olympics deliver a successful and inspirational Olympic and Paralympic Games

    with a sustainable legacy

Success on these will be measured by a number of indicators, such as:

    • Increasing adult engagement in culture and sport.

    • Increasing child engagement in culture and sport.

    • Measuring excellence of the cultural and sporting offer defined as the quality of

    experience had, number of repeat visits or similar.

3.3.1 Arts Council England

    Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people's lives. They support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries - from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections.

    Between 2011 and 2015, they will invest ?1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated ?0.85 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

    “Achieving Great Art for Everyone, November 2010 is the Arts Council‟s ten year

    strategic framework for the arts and sets out five goals for the arts. Since assuming some of the functions of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council in October 2011, these five ten year goals have been adapted to reflect the needs and priorities for museums and


libraries and published in “Culture, knowledge and understanding: great museums

    and libraries for everyone” (September 2011). The joint goals are:

    ; Talent and excellence in the arts, museums and libraries are thriving and


    ; More people experience and are inspired by the Arts, museums and libraries

    ; The arts, museums and libraries are sustainable resilient and innovative

    ; The leadership and workforce in arts, museums and libraries are diverse and

    highly skilled

    ; Every child and young person has the opportunity to experience the richness of the

    arts, museums and libraries.

    There are nine regional Arts Council offices, each responsible for the agreement of regional strategies, plans and priorities for action within the framework of national policies and priorities, approval of three year regional investment plans and agreement of detailed regional annual budgets.

    Southend-on-Sea is part of the Arts Council‟s eastern region and is working with them to

    deliver their plans for the East.

    3.3.2 Music Education Hubs

    The first ever National Plan for Music Education The Importance of Music was

    published on 25 November 2011. It sets out the Government‟s vision for music education

    - to enable children, aged 5 18 years, from all backgrounds and every part of England to have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument; to make music with others; to learn to sing; and to have the opportunity to progress to the next level of excellence. This is part of the Government‟s aim to ensure that all pupils have rich cultural opportunities alongside their academic and vocational studies.

    From August 2012, music education hubs will be funded, via an application process which will be managed by the Arts Council England, to bring together local authorities and local music organisations, like orchestras, choirs and other music groups. It is anticipated that the hubs will be fully operational from September 2012.

    Southend will be putting in its own bid demonstrating how we will work in partnership to make sure every child in the Borough has a high quality music education, including the opportunity to learn to sing, to play an instrument and to make music with others. 3.3.3 Public Health

    The Government has an ambitious programme to improve public health through strengthening local action, supporting self-esteem and behavioural changes, promoting healthy choices and changing the environment to support healthier lives. The reforms will

    see local authorities taking the lead for improving health and coordinating local efforts to protect the public‟s health and wellbeing, and ensuring health services effectively promote population health. Local political leadership will be central to making this work.


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