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Arts Council report highlights link between cultural organisations and high streets

It is no surprise that the high street suffers when venues are closed

The Birmingham Rep and Birmingham Library
© JimmyGuano / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

A new report from the Arts Council (ACE) has highlighted the significant link between the high street and cultural organisations.

According to ACE, three-quarters of cultural buildings are located at the centre of local communities – either on or within a 5-minute walk of a high street. Furthermore, 300 cultural venues and buildings are located in unemployment hotspots.

Darren Henley, chief executive, Arts Council England said: "An investment in culture is an investment in our high streets. Theatres, music venues, museums and libraries are the beating hearts of their communities. They're central to the social fabric and civic pride of towns across England. As well as events and performances for audiences of all ages, they provide a raft of local amenities from bars to bookshops, helping to bring our high streets alive, providing jobs and boosting the economy."

Further reporting from ACE has highlighted how investing in culture means investing in local communities, with a quarter of ACE-funded institutions also containg a café, bar or bookshop. Funding can mean local economic growth and employment opportunities for locals, while a repurposing of vacant spaces can also generate footfall in areas where it is down, as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

City spaces have been most adversely affected, with large numbers of people deciding not to venture into city hubs where possible. Recent numbers from the Financial Times indicate that footfall is down by over 60 per cent in the capital and around 50 per cent for cities like Manchester and Birmingham.