Manchester City Council asks for multi-million pound package to re-think culture
Render of foyer at the Factory, the cultural venue centrepiece of St John's Manchester development (OMA for developers Allied London and Manchester City Council)
Manchester City Council has written an open letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak asking for an immediate life-line of £71.8 million to help the city repair, restart and rethink cultural life as the sector emerges from lockdown.
The figure has been calculated following discussion with cultural organisations in the city to develop a future stimulus plan as well as one of stabilsation. It represents the amount needed over the next two years both to kick start a return to 'normal' business for some organisations and for others sums needed to help create and innovate a new kind of normal for the future.
Whilst the announcement at the weekend of a £1.5 billion rescue package for culture and the arts was welcomed, city leaders want to ensure that - as the second most visited city in England after London - Manchester gets the amount of funding it needs to secure, maintain, grow and protect its cultural offer.
The part played by culture in helping drive the economic recovery of the city is seen as vital. Culture brings people into the city, provides jobs and employment opportunities both within the sector itself and the wider hospitality industry as well as improving mental health and well-being.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Skills, Manchester City Council, said:
'It will not be enough simply to keep cultural organisations from bankruptcy that will do nothing to future-proof either the sector itself, or the wider local economy and whole livelihoods, that depend on a thriving cultural scene.
'What we need is a major place-based two-year package, to re-start the cultural economy that we all know is the very life-blood of this city. A package, that will in turn enable culture to play a much-needed and vital central role in rebuilding the wider citywide economy.
'Cutlure is no under-study or bit-part player here in Manchester. It has always been a leading light, the real deal for us, and an intrinsic part of the city's success.'