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					Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study




        BIRMINGHAM, COVENTRY AND BLACK
              COUNTRY CITY-REGION




                           SCOPING STUDY


                                    for the


                    QUALITY OF LIFE GROUP




                                                                   May 2008


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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


CONTENTS

SECTION A
CHAPTER 1
The Scoping Study: An Introduction                                          3

CHAPTER 2
City Regions, Competitiveness and Quality of Life                           6

CHAPTER 3
Strategic Context: Local Authority Cultural Strategies                      26

CHAPTER 4
Strategic Context: Regional Strategies                                      35

CHAPTER 5
Consulting the Cultural Sector: Questionnaire Results                       45

CHAPTER 6
Cultural Assets in the West Midlands: a Baseline                            76

CHAPTER 7
Culture in the West Midlands: Perceptions of the Region                     80



SECTION B
CHAPTER 8
Mapping Results                                                             94


SECTION C
CHAPTER 9
Development of Key Policy Themes                                            103




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


SECTION A


CHAPTER 1

The Scoping Study: An Introduction

In 2007, Culture West Midlands (CWM) was commissioned by the Birmingham,
Coventry, and Black Country City Region Board to undertake a scoping study
which would inform joint working on Quality of Life in the City Region. The
scoping study is focused on gathering and analysing information which is
relevant to the City Region as a whole and which therefore sits above the local
needs of any single area or local authority policy.

The Quality of Life Steering Group (QLSG) acted as the key advisory and
monitoring body for the research and for agreeing it both collectively and on
behalf of their respective organisations. The Group has membership from the
following organisations:

Local Authorities:
   1. Birmingham
   2. Coventry
   3. Dudley
   4. Sandwell
   5. Solihull
   6. Telford
   7. Walsall
   8. Wolverhampton

Regional Bodies:
  1. Arts Council England
  2. Advantage West Midlands
  3. English Heritage
  4. Museums, Libraries and Archives
  5. Play England
  6. Sport England
  7. West Midlands Local Government Association/Regional Assembly

The original intention was for the research to assist the QLSG in developing a
Joint Investment Plan for quality of life. Subsequently however, the aim was
altered to providing the QLSG with an evidence base from which it could
recommend propositions to the Board which would significantly improve quality of
life in the City Region. The scope of the research was also sharpened, with a



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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


focus on the City Region‟s cultural infrastructure rather than across „quality of life‟
more generally.

CWM was approached to undertake the City Region scoping study in order to
ensure that the research findings were also taken into account, and informed by,
the concurrent reviews of the Regional Cultural Strategy, Regional Spatial
Strategy and Regional Economic Strategy.


Methodology

CWM undertook a number of related research projects as part of the Scoping
study; these have been compiled within this document as Section A.

Chapter 2 aims to provide some wider context for the scoping study. It first
describes why City Regions have become increasingly important in policy terms,
then moves on to outline the significance of quality of life factors to urban
competitiveness; drawing on the work of Parkinson et al. It then looks at the
evidence for the effectiveness of culture as a driver of urban development, before
concluding by stating the strategic aims of the BCBC City Region Board and how
these fit within the preceding perspectives.

Chapter 3 reviews the six local cultural strategies that have been produced by
local authorities within the City Region. The review focuses in particular on
common themes and issues, as well as issues which may present opportunities
or barriers to joint working.

Similarly, chapter 4 reviews key regional strategies, summarising the strategic
priorities, objectives and issues relating to culture, the „quality of life‟ agenda and
City-Regional development. The Spatial Strategy, Economic Strategy, Cultural
Strategy and the Visitor Economy Strategy are covered.

Chapter 5 collates and analyses responses to a questionnaire survey, completed
by the heads of culture and leisure (or equivalent post) of each of the City
Region‟s eight local authorities and by the seven regional bodies represented on
the QLSG. The chapter includes a SWOT analysis of culture within the City
Region.

Chapter 6 identifies the cultural assets located within the City Region and
categorises each asset as being of international, national, regional or City
Regional significance. The baseline was produced by consultants, Burns Owen
Partnership, following consultation with the QLSG and forms the basis for the
spatial mapping and gapping analysis detailed in Section B.

Chapter 7 concludes the first Section, reviewing how the constituent areas of the
city-region are promoted. This promotion is compared with external perceptions
of the areas, as available on major websites.


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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


Section B of the report consists of two chapters which cover the mapping of
cultural asset data and the analysis of that data. The research included here has
been disaggregated from a Mapping and Gapping study commissioned by the
WM Regional Assembly as part of the Phase 3 Review of the Regional Spatial
Strategy. The work for Chapter 7 was undertaken by the West Midlands Regional
Observatory and spatially maps cultural assets against other contextualising
data. Chapter 8 provides analysis of the mapping, completed by BOP.

In chapter 7, the relationships between the distribution of cultural and other
statistical variables are mapped. Population and demographic statistics, future
projections of population change, household income, skill levels, deprivation,
housing growth and regeneration zones are all mapped against cultural assets of
various levels of significance.

Chapter 8 utilises the mapping in chapter 7 and analyses that information in
conjunction with information gathered from elsewhere in this report to identify
strategic gaps in provision of internationally, nationally, and city-regionally
significant gaps. This provides an overview of supply and demand in the city-
region. The chapter concludes with recommendations which address the issue of
strategic gaps, as well as advice on other potential new policies and delivery
mechanisms, all of which have arisen from the research conducted.

Section C translates the evidence from the previous two Sections into policy
themes, which are then developed into potential initiatives. Chapter 9 traces the
development of these initiatives, demonstrating the correlation between the
proposals and the identified gaps that they are designed to address. This chapter
also identifies the potential barriers to delivering the initiatives.

Finally, Chapter 10 summarises the recommendations put forward by the QLSG
to the City-Region Board, in consideration for joint-investment.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


CHAPTER 2

City Regions, Competitiveness and Quality of Life

Contents


      2.1 Introduction- City Regions


      2.2 Urban Competitiveness


      2.3 The Benefits of Culture to Urban Development


      2.4 The BCBC City Region Framework for Action


      2.5 Summary




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2.1 INTRODUCTION- CITY REGIONS

Recent years have seen an upsurge of policy interest, in both Europe and North
America, about urban areas and the appropriate „scales‟ of governance at sub-
national level,. During 2006, the UK government published three key documents1
which stressed the importance of cities and it has committed itself to “looking at
the best ways to devolve powers to the appropriate levels and help local
authorities and their partners to work together more closely across the cities and
their surrounding city or city-region”2. Accordingly, it has encouraged the core
cities to work in “partnership with other local authorities, representatives of the
private sector and other bodies across their cities and surrounding areas – their
„city-regions‟”3.

The motivation for the government‟s interest in cities can be seen in the vision of
its relevant department, Communities and Local Government:
        “to create economically strong cities and regions which enhance
        England‟s national prosperity and provide opportunities for everyone,
        wherever they happen to live. We aim to narrow disparities in growth rates
        between different regions by boosting the economic performance of all
        regions and helping English cities to compete in the international market.
        This will help us to create vibrant, diverse and attractive places where
        people want to live, work and play4”.

In seeking to better understand the concept of city regions, the former Office of
the Deputy Prime Minister commissioned a number of working papers on the
subject. The first5 gives the following definition-
       “City-Regions essentially comprise a central urban core together with the
       relevant commuter hinterland. Their conceptual underpinning is clear:
       City-Regions are essentially functional definitions of the economic but also
       of the social „reach‟ of cities”.

The impulse for the recent and current attention on urban governance is given as
“a response to the challenges posed by economic globalisation”. Economic
restructuring has eroded the power of nation-states and led to a re-invigoration of
institutional arrangements at regional and sub-regional levels. At the same time
there has been a growth in the powers held by supra-national bodies. Taken
together these movements have led to a shifting relationship between institutions
along the local-global continuum.

Evidence of existing „city-regional‟ working in England is given as-
1
  ‘Local Government White Paper’ (October 2006), ‘State of the English Cities’ (March 2006), ‘Devolving
decision making: 3 - Meeting the regional economic challenge: The importance of cities to regional
growth’ (March 2006)
2
  DCLG website- http://www.communities.gov.uk/citiesandregions/about (20/05/08)
3
  DCLG website- http://www.communities.gov.uk/citiesandregions/about/cities (20/05/08)
4
  DCLG website- http://www.communities.gov.uk/citiesandregions/about (20/05/08
5
  ‘A framework for City-Regions, Working paper 1, Mapping City-Regions’, Robson et al (2006)


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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


       Cities have increasingly been the locus of strategies for economic
        development
       City strategies are measured in terms of their success in attracting public
        and private resources
       Cities are marketing themselves (recognising city versus city competition
        under globalisation)
       Cities have recognised that social problems must be addressed in tandem
        with economic issues.

Working Paper Four6 investigates the role of city regions in regional economic
development policy and finds that a focus on cities “offers the greatest prospect
of simultaneously attaining sustainable economic development at the regional
level and a boost to national competitiveness in global markets together with the
attainment of Lisbon Agenda targets”.

The paper goes on to consider the impact that a stronger City Region dimension
would have on the main elements of regional economic policy. Findings relating
to quality of life and culture are shown below-

Enterprise policy
    “evidence suggests that greater potential exists to stimulate new starts in
      the more affluent parts of a city-region that in other areas . . . [they have]
      better quality of life characteristics which are most attractive to potential
      entrepreneurs who can be attracted in from elsewhere”.
    “successful existing entrepreneurs . . . are likely to be drawn to the more
      affluent parts of the city-region to live. Nevertheless it is the attractiveness
      of the city as a whole which is what is crucial to snaring these individuals
      and subsequently persuading them to stay. It is the city‟s leisure facilities,
      it‟s cultural and environmental attractiveness and its education and
      training reputation which is what matter. These are overwhelmingly city-
      region characteristics and not those of a GoR or sub-city local area”.
    “the attractiveness of the overall City-Region (i.e. schools, crime rates,
      natural environment, airport access, leisure and recreation facilities) is
      also one of the factors which lead to inward investment decisions being
      secured. However, it must be accepted that other determinants are more
      important”.

Innovation and Technology Transfer Policy
    “there is an additional dimension of how to attract and retain the key
      scientifically and technically trained personnel and entrepreneurs to be
      found in high tech firms. It is here again that the city-region comes into its
      own. The attractiveness of a location is essentially determined by the


6
 A framework for City-Regions, Working paper 4, The role of City-Regions in regional economic
development policy, Marvin et al (2006)


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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


       attractiveness of the city-region – its leisure, cultural, education,
       environmental and other attributes, taken as a whole”.
      “The reality, however, is that graduates with scientific and technical skills
       essentially enter into what are global markets for their skills. . . Graduate
       retention policies are certainly worthwhile since even if only 5% or 10% of
       these highly desirable graduates are retained this represents a major
       success for the city. More importantly still, however, are policies which
       lead to graduate attraction to the city. This in part rests upon the
       attractiveness and research reputation of the city‟s universities. It also,
       however, rests upon the attractiveness of the city as a residential location
       for highly paid, young people. The latter is again essentially a city-region
       policy. Focussing on building up the image (city marketing) and leisure,
       cultural, educational, recreational and environmental assets of the city-
       region”.

The report does not consider that there are any particular quality of life issues
concerning policies for social inclusion and community economic development or
policies for training and education.


Having presented a short summary of the policy perspective for English city
regions, this chapter aims to now provide some further context for the scoping
work which follows.

It begins by considering the analytical approach presented by Parkinson et al in
„State of the English Cities‟, with a focus on their findings concerning quality of
life and culture. Attention is then drawn to the roles for culture in urban
development and to evidence of its impact. The concluding section focuses on
the BCBC City Region Framework for Action and outlines its strategic objectives
for improvements to quality of life. This chapter will highlight why „quality of life‟
and culture are seen as essential ingredients to the health and success of
modern cities and City Regions at both national and sub-regional levels.


2.2 URBAN COMPETITIVENESS

The „State of the English Cities’ report (Parkinson et al, 2006, ODPM) is
considered to be the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of England's
cities and towns. It covers five main themes: demographics, social cohesion,
economic competitiveness & performance, liveability, governance & the impact of
policy. The report highlights a dramatic transformation in the major urban centres
including the core cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester,
Nottingham, Newcastle and Sheffield. New jobs are being created, people are
moving back in, services are improving and several city centres are experiencing
an „urban renaissance‟. However, English cities continue to face difficult




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


challenges and economic performance is uneven; cities have the greatest
numbers of people out of work and contain pockets of significant deprivation.

The State of the English Cities report and the series of Parkinson authored
reports on the Core Cities that preceded it, have been highly influential in
shaping the UK government‟s urban policy. This section will aim to draw out the
relevant findings for quality of life and cultural issues which can inform the
planning of the Quality of Life Steering Group.

      Culture and quality of life are increasingly important to UK cities

During the past decade many cities in many countries have emerged from a
period of decline to find new economic, political and cultural niches.

In Europe and North America there is renewed investment in cities, growing
urban cultural development and an increased appetite for urban lifestyles. The
quality of urban life, culture and environment are increasingly recognised as
one of the hallmarks of a successful society.

Many [cities] have substantial cultural resources, which are increasingly
the source of economic growth and job creation.

Cities are not only economic assets – not merely marketplaces. They have
great capacity to promote community development, social cohesion, and civic
and cultural identity.

Cities have dramatically improved their economic performance. The
process of urban renaissance, especially in city centres, is well entrenched as
many cities have dramatically improved the quality of their cultural, leisure
and retail facilities.

The socio-cultural assets of a city are an important source of urban competitive
advantage, shaping its attractiveness to educated and creative people.

      Quality of Life is a key driver of urban competitive performance which is
       determined by the quality of social and cultural infrastructure and other
       fundamental factors

The urban competitive performance pyramid (Figure 4.1) shows that the analysis
of urban economic competitiveness consists of several different levels. A city‟s
standard of living is conventionally captured by GDP per capita. Underpinning
aggregate performance are revealed measures of urban competitive advantage –
namely productivity, the employment rate, wage levels and profit rates.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


These are in turn the outcome of the key „drivers‟ of urban competitive
performance – innovation, investment, human capital, economic structure,
connectivity, quality of life and the structures of decision making.

The drivers are themselves the outcome of more basic underlying determinants –
a city‟s business environment, educational base, urban social and cultural
infrastructure and governance structures and organisation.




                                Figure 4.1: Conceptualising Urban Competitive Performance

      Local and regional authorities have more influence over Quality of Life
       than the other drivers of economic competitiveness

In England the majority of strategic decisions are taken for cities by central
government rather than by cities themselves. This is particularly true about the
main economic drivers of competitiveness. In most cases central government
departments – notably ODPM, DTI and the Treasury – take and fund the key
decisions that affect city competitiveness. Figure 4.19 shows an approximation
of the relative degrees of responsibility by different levels of government for
the key drivers of urban competitiveness.

Figure 4.19 also illustrates the large number of departments and other agencies
involved in taking decisions affecting the competitiveness of cities. This
structure of responsibilities provides multiple opportunities for disjointed policy
making rather than joined up thinking and ensuring the consistent targeting of
mainstream funding on the key drivers of competitiveness in cities.



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Local and regional authorities and agencies do have significantly more decision
making control over quality of life than any other competitiveness driver,
indicating that this is an area where the BCBC City Region Board may have more
flexibility to achieve its objectives.




           Figure 4.19: Degrees of influence of different levels of governance on drivers of local
                                                                       economic competitiveness

      Culture contributes to „liveability‟, which in turn contributes to Quality of
       Life

A brief separation of definitions is useful here. „Quality of life‟ is often confused
with liveability, when in fact it covers a much broader range of topics. Liveability
can be regarded as a subset of „quality of life‟ – with „quality of life‟ covering a
broader range of factors such as education, poverty, economic deprivation,
health, the environment, congestion and so on.

We follow the line set by the ODPM, seeing liveability as concentrating on the
public realm and the built environment, in terms of both observed outcomes and



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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


citizens‟ perceptions of their local urban environment. Liveability is concerned
with the quality of space and the built environment. It is about how easy a place
is to use and how safe it feels. It is about creating a sense of place by creating an
environment that is both inviting and enjoyable.

The liveability agenda is essentially about creating places where people choose
to live and work. This is a point noted in the 2004 report on „Competitive
European Cities; where do the core cities stand?‟

“Evidence from the Core Cities in the UK highlighted that the mixture of
ingredients that improve quality of life and make a sustainable community with
the assets of
good environment,
distinctive architectue
cultural facilities,
diverse housing stock
access to natural amenities
are an essential mix to attract the right kind of labour force to make a city
economically competitive.”

Quality of life is defined as covering a wide range of aspects. Within the urban
competitiveness agenda, it is the successful mix of amenities and services that
make a place attractive, providing a quality of life which is conducive to economic
success.


The Work Foundation considered how City Regions could increase the
knowledge intensity of their economies in its 2003 report „Ideopolis‟. They
provide a more nuanced view of the importance of culture and quality of life for
attracting knowledge businesses and workers:

      Distinctiveness matters: a city with a recognised culture and personality
       can use these qualities as a source of economic advantage. This is not
       simply a matter of marketing and promotion but a clearly articulated sense
       of what makes one place different from another. Distinctiveness can get a
       city noticed, offering a compelling set of features around which
       stakeholders can rally.

      The notion of distinctiveness can be reinforced by a clear sense that the
       city is changing at the same time as it builds on its strengths. This can be
       either tangible, like physical improvements to the city centre, or intangible,
       such as developing a reputation as a good place to do business.

      Cities cannot rely on distinctiveness alone to increase knowledge
       intensity. When deciding where to live, all individuals consider the basics
       first, principally whether there is a job available. Then „hygiene‟ factors


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       such as good public services, crime and liveability will be considered,
       followed by „distinctive‟ factors, such as shopping, leisure facilities,
       proximity to open spaces and the city‟s „cultural offer‟.

      Knowledge workers will want different things from a city at different points
       in their life-cycle. Lively city centres with lots of entertainment and cultural
       facilities may be attractive to young professionals. But, knowledge workers
       with young families are more concerned with the quality of education,
       other public services and community safety.

      They found no evidence during case study interviews or survey work that
       businesses or those working in knowledge intensive occupations re-
       located primarily because of „distinctiveness‟ factors. On the other hand,
       the evidence suggested that „distinctiveness‟ could be an important factor
       if a worker had several job offers located in different cities.
       „Distinctiveness‟ could exercise significant influence over the final location
       decision.

      For some cities, this distinctiveness is grounded in history: Boston as a
       university city, Edinburgh as the capital of Scotland. For others, however,
       there are clear turning points that helped them rediscover their sense of
       distinctiveness: the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, the Angel of
       the North in Newcastle. A clear sense of identity for both those living and
       working there, and for external audiences, is critical in shaping
       perceptions of the city, whether it is seen as a „knowledge city‟, a
       „declining city‟ or a „services city‟.

      There is a need to ensure that „distinctiveness‟ really is distinctive and
       builds on a city‟s historic and contemporary assets. As the New
       Economics Foundation has argued, there is a danger that too many cities
       are becoming „clone cities‟. The history of a city, its unique communities,
       shops and culture, are part of its attraction. Losing that could potentially
       impact detrimentally on the attractiveness of an area for entrepreneurs,
       investors or residents.


Having sketched out the theoretical arguments for the role of culture and quality
of life in urban competitiveness we will now move on to consider the wider
benefits that culture is claimed to bring to urban development.


2.3 THE BENEFITS OF CULTURE TO URBAN DEVELOPMENT

Miles and Paddison (2005) claim that the “rapidity with which culture has
ascended the urban policy agenda has been little short of extraordinary”. For
Gibson and Stevenson (2004) “cultural policies and programmes increasingly are


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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


being seen as the antidote to an ever-broadening range of social, economic and
political problems”. Though the extent of these claims may be disputed they
show that culture, to some extent, has established a foothold in mainstream
urban policy and delivery. What then, are the factors that have made this
possible?


Culture and the economy
When Scott (2001) states that there is a “powerful convergence” occurring
between the spheres of economy and culture, he refers to the tendency towards
the increased commodification of cultural production and consumption, the rising
power and socioeconomic influence of media corporations and an increased
understanding of the place specificity of cultural production.

These economic shifts are attributed to globalising effects- the rise of flexible
economic production and the parallel rise of consumer sovereignty (as
production becomes increasingly fused with consumption to provide the
purchaser with the exact good that they require); technological change and
reduced reproduction costs due to digitisation; the importance of branding to
enable corporations to compete on a global basis.

Several factors combine to make the creative industries a persuasive route for
the diversification of local economies; not least the fear of being „locked out‟ of
future growth (Scott, 2000). There are low entry levels to the creative industries,
relying as they do on human creative capital. They tend to be „micro‟ in size and
continue to trade beyond the short survival rates usually associated with SMEs
(Evans and Shaw, 2004). The development of creative industries clusters in post-
industrial cities is especially attractive given their tendency to make use of
abandoned industrial districts on the outskirts of the central urban core

As the UK Chancellor noted though, the challenge is “not just to encourage
creative industries, our priority is to encourage all businesses to be creative”
(DTI, 2005). The 2005 Cox report showed that good design is important for all
firms looking to develop higher-value futures, not just those involved in the
design field and associated creative industries- “greater creativity is the key to
greater productivity”.

The cultural economy is wider than the creative industries, of course. Recent
research for Culture West Midlands7 found that the tourism, leisure and creative
industries were economically significant for the region:
    The sector accounted for over 10% of employment, 14.5% of businesses
       and 12.5% of GVA
    Regional cultural employment grew by 4.8% between 2003 and 2004,
       more than any other English region

7
    „Growing the Cultural Economy in the West Midlands‟, CWM, 2006


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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


      Regional employment in culture and sport is predicted to see 27% growth
       between 2004 - 2014, creating a further 60,000 jobs


Culture and Place
The recently published national strategy for Creative Industries (Creative Britain,
2008) recognises that culture has the potential to improve quality of place and
attract creative „clusters‟. This subject has come to prominence over recent
years, primarily through the work of Florida, whose basic premise is that as
capital becomes more global, so does the workforce. Therefore companies
seeking to attract talented workforces need to locate in cities that offer the best
quality of life to these employees, which he calls the „creative class‟.

His research indicates that cities should offer a range of „quality of place‟ options
that collectively make a location attractive to the „creative class‟. In addition to
tolerant communities, these are a combination of quality built and natural
environments and the vibrancy of street life, café culture, arts, music and
participating in outdoor activities. Also of importance is the need for cities to
develop their „authenticity‟, cultivating distinctiveness.

The importance of cultural amenities for attracting and retaining human capital is
also claimed by Clark (Clark, ed. 2004). A number of economic research studies
support this view, claiming that high-technology firms are less dependent on
traditional locational production factors, allowing firms to relocate to the high
amenity areas of their choice.

Cultural amenities as public goods are picked up by Leadbeater (1999) who
claims that the knowledge economy requires education, telecommunications and
cultural infrastructure in order to develop a dynamic learning society. The public
goods argument is also used by Clark, Scott, and Throsby amongst others, to
show how the externalities arising from new, or enhanced, cultural amenities can
benefit many more people than their intended users.

The first cultural „flagship‟ projects were used as anchors for new commercial
property developments, as post-industrial cities sought to capitalise on their
remaining place specific assets and undertake large-scale emblematic rebuilding
projects in their city centres and waterfronts. The aims were to generate
locational advantage, attract new visitors and signal new economic trajectories,
after decades of decline.

This image-change has become fundamental to the strategy of urban tourism
and place marketing, with culture providing a powerful vehicle with which to
celebrate past achievements and forge new positive images of places associated
with socioeconomic deterioration. Although oriented towards influencing the
perceptions of external audiences it can also develop local impact: “The




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


orchestrated production of an urban image can, if successful, also help create a
sense of social solidarity, civic pride and loyalty to place” (Harvey, 1989).

The advent of the National Lottery bought with it a new period of high profile
cultural facilities which are claimed to have “become national and international
cultural icons, which have acted as catalysts for regeneration in their area”
(DCMS, 2004). Considered by most commentators to be too young to
demonstrate their full impact yet, their immediate value to place specific
regeneration is to act as a signifier for positive change in a specific area, or to a
wider region.

Another re-branding strategy undertaken by cities has been the competition to
attract cultural and sporting „mega events‟. Cities looked to the financial and
image-change benefits that accrued to both Glasgow and Barcelona as a result
of becoming Capitals of Culture and Olympic hosts respectively, whilst the profit
arising from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics made the attraction of large sporting
events an international goal.

Gratton et al (2001) point out that only it is only the major events that contribute
substantially to national GDP. Domestic events are still attractive to city and
regional development agencies however, because of the redistributive benefits
arising from bringing competitors and spectators from other areas of the UK. This
is maximised where infrastructure funding has been drawn from national sources.

They also draw attention to the UKs three National Cities of Sport, which have all
invested heavily in their sports facilities and professional expertise in order to
attract and deliver a portfolio of major sporting events. The main driver here is
economic, however the cities also have a major commitment to community sports
development “so that the local population benefits from the investment in sports
infrastructure” (Gratton, et al, 2001).


Culture and the Environment
Culture‟s contribution to the environmental objectives for urban regeneration is
primarily advanced around its capacity to find new ways of utilising redundant,
and particularly historically relevant, buildings. In many ways this represents a
refinement of using cultural „flagship‟ buildings as a catalyst for surrounding
development. The use of cultural funding to pump prime local regeneration,
usually in mixed-use locations, by funding the refurbishment of listed buildings, is
seen to provide leverage for further improvements to surrounding public
amenities and commercially owned property.

The „Urban Renaissance‟ agenda has raised the importance of public space and
„liveability‟ within urban regeneration, leading to the increased involvement of
cultural bodies in raising the quality of design for buildings, streetscapes and
green space and through public art. In many ways this is a direct response to the



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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


instinctive value attached to their surroundings by the public. 85% of respondents
agreed that “better quality buildings and public open spaces improve the quality
of life” (MORI poll for CABE, 2002). Defra‟s latest wellbeing survey found that
90% of people thought that it was very or fairly important to have green spaces
near to where they live. It is also though, driven by a fundamentally economic-
based objective of making cities assets rather than liabilities and on an
understanding that people (with choices) will only continue to live in urban areas
if their rising expectations for an attractive environment are met.

The social benefits of good urban design have not been neglected. CABE (2003
and 2005) has evidenced the positive impact that it has on social inclusion in
policy areas as diverse as crime reduction, health, identity and sustainability and
in increasing the take up of public services.


Culture and Society
The 2004 DCMS publication „Culture at the Heart of Regeneration‟ builds on
previous research work to propose three main benefits arising from community
cultural involvement- increased social cohesion, crime reduction and stimulating
learning; building individual capacity and community engagement. The benefits
of sport are deliberately omitted from the document and so the strong
connections between sporting activity and the healthy lifestyles/obesity agendas
are not covered.

A US research programme, the „Social Impact of the Arts‟, was undertaken to
measure the neighbourhood impact of community arts organisations. It found that
a lively local cultural scene contributes to community vitality in two ways- “It
increases the inclination and ability of residents to make positive changes in their
community, and it increases the connections between neighbourhoods of
different ethnic compositions”. Also, “The cultural institutions in these
neighbourhoods act as anchors, preventing diversity from becoming a transient
state”. (Urban Studies Program 2004, in Clark et al, 2004).

Florida and Leadbeater both stress the importance of tolerance for competitive
cities, aware of the socioeconomic value of immigration. Whilst outsiders bring
with them new skills, knowledge and manners of collective expression that can
lead, through hybridisation, to new cultural forms, immigration also leads to social
tensions. Finding ways to bridge ethnic divides and develop a maturing inter-
culturalism is an imperative for urban development.

       “when cities are sites of increased migration and the pervasive discourse
       is of difference, cultural dialogue offers a potential ground for contestation
       and a non-confrontational means to maintain a creative tension within
       difference”.
                                                                      (Miles, M, 2005)




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


Brownill and Darke (1998), writing about the essential requirement to consider
the needs of Black and Minority Ethnic communities in regeneration initiatives,
favourably compare the „Rich Mix‟ cultural project, which aims to “build on the
uniqueness and distinctiveness of an area”, to the Docklands development,
which “exacerbated racial tension in the area”. Zukin (1995) comments on the
legitimising process involved with minority ethnic festivals in central public space,
seeing it as a democratisation of space that “can integrate rather than segregate
social and ethnic groups, and it can also help negotiate new group identities”.

Identity is also central to the process of re-orientation that cities will have to go
through as they seek to find a place in a globalised world, one where the
distinctiveness of collective values may be as important as environmental assets.
Bailey et al (2004), investigating the impact of large-scale cultural investment in
Newcastle/Gateshead, maintain that “where the commercialised identities we
might associate with globalisation can be reconciled with more localised
expressions of identity, culture-led regeneration may be especially effective”.

On a less positive note, the West Midlands has low levels of cultural participation
in general and the highest rates of physical inactivity. This is of particular
concern, given that participation in cultural activity improves physical and mental
wellbeing- contributing to improved productivity across the region‟s economy.
Community based participation in cultural activity can also be an effective and
accessible pathway to formal learning and develops social and employability
skills.

Having considered the potential benefits of maximising the benefits arising from
culture and quality of life from a wide angle lens, we will now move on to consider
the aims and objectives that the BCBC City Region Board has for improving
quality of life.


2.4 THE BCBC CITY REGION FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION

In February 2006, all eight of the local authorities, four regional bodies and
private sector representatives which form the BCBC City Region Board, signed
up to a Framework for Action. This document summarises how connected, co-
ordinated and cross border interventions will increase economic prosperity,
business confidence and environmental sustainability in the urban core and
beyond. These local benefits will also allow the City Region to improve national
wealth creation and the international competitiveness of UK PLC, as well as
making it “uniquely well positioned” to relieve pressure on the south east.

The Framework outlines four key outcomes:
      1. Creating Employment and Prosperity
      2. Connecting People with Opportunities
      3. Connecting the City Region


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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


       4. Creating a Better Quality of Life

It also contains a short snapshot of the key socio-economic factors within the City
region. The following are perhaps most pertinent to this Scoping Study:

      The City Region‟s greatest asset is its people. The population is one of the
       youngest, most cosmopolitan and ethnically diverse in Europe with strong
       links to some of the fastest growing economies in the world. The Black
       and Minority Ethnic (BME) population as a proportion of the working-age
       population is substantially higher than the national average and stands at
       about 30%. The expansion of the European Union has seen increasing
       numbers of in-migrants.
      Birmingham is the core and largest city with about 36% of the City
       Region‟s population, with Coventry containing a further 11% of the
       population. The four Black Country boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull
       and Wolverhampton together constitute about 40% of the population while
       Solihull and Telford each house less than 10%.
      The strengths of Birmingham - its young, diverse, growing population, its
       position at the centre of our air, rail and road networks, its large and
       increasing knowledge-based economy, its critical cultural assets, its
       designation as a Science City - provide the opportunity and mainspring for
       strong, City Region growth over coming decades. Urban centres are being
       revitalised by the strong growth of „city living‟ with Birmingham in particular
       becoming one of the UK‟s most popular city living locations.
      A key feature of the Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City Region
       is its polycentricism, where distinct and diverse identities, economic
       profiles and growth trajectories underlie the shared characteristics and
       interests of its cities and towns. One of the most distinctive characteristics
       of the City Region is the increasingly complex interdependency between
       its constituent cities and towns in terms of jobs, shopping, education and
       leisure activities and consequent patterns of movement. Interdependency
       in the City Region is being driven by the provision of business
       infrastructure, housing, cultural and lifestyle opportunities that
       individual primary centres cannot offer on their own.
      In many parts of the City Region however, the challenges of de-
       industrialisation are being accompanied by transitional problems such as
       comparatively low levels of skills and higher education attainment, poor
       rates of enterprise creation, high levels of worklessness and serious
       outward migration, especially of knowledge workers.
      The City Region has seen rates of output and employment growth that are
       higher than the national and regional averages, particularly in 15 „key‟
       sectors. Two of these are part of the City Region‟s cultural economy:
            o Creative industries
            o Hotels & catering
       Both are forecast to be drivers of growth in the City Region, with particular
       attention to be paid to the growing creative industries sector.


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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


      Business formation in knowledge industries is lagging behind many other
       comparator city regions.


The Framework for Action contains a section entitled ‘Creating a Better
Quality of Life’ which provides a strategic steer to the work of the QLSG.
This Scoping Study aims to provide an evidence base from which the
QLSG can determine how best to assist the City Region to achieve its
ambitions for improving quality of life. These objectives are summarised
below:

1. Substantially increase the City Region’s population
There will be a particular focus on the retention and attraction of those
economically active and independent households that currently do not aspire to
live in the City Region, and on ensuring that all communities enjoy prosperity and
rising aspirations.

Central to this will be the development of a cleaner environment and the
provision of improved green spaces and infrastructure. We are committed to
shaping and assisting the delivery of quality places that improve and enhance the
living experience of all our citizens.

An ambitious, collaborative approach to enhanced cultural, sporting and leisure
facilities and events, especially through the development of important and
successful venues, will be implemented. In particular, we will develop and deliver
a coherent City Region “cultural offer” to help to promote the area on regional,
national and international stages.

2. Commitment to environmental sustainability and the reduction of
    carbon emissions.
By aligning collective influence and funding for household growth policies and
interventions.

3. Accelerated implementation of Urban Renaissance
Ensure that household growth strategies are connected, co-ordinated and
mutually supportive. This will offer the best conditions for the realisation of our
urban renaissance objectives whilst assisting partners outside of the City Region
to respond successfully to their own housing growth requirements. The City
Region partners will continue to develop and direct household growth policy as a
potential City Region New Growth Point.

4. Attract and retain high-income employees of the knowledge economy
By providing quality housing and through the regeneration of neighbourhoods
that currently deter such potential residents. Developing mixed tenure and mixed
income communities in association with transport, skills, and economic growth



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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


strategies, will increase the range of housing opportunities available. It will also
improve the places and environment for all City Region residents.

5. Develop cultural, leisure and sporting facilities and events
Central to this approach will be an enhanced recognition of the important role
that the interaction between different cultures plays in defining and identifying the
City Region both internally and externally.

A coordinated cultural, leisure and sporting strategy will contribute to both the
economic diversification, and attractiveness, of the City Region. Build upon our
existing network of venues to enhance their national and international status and
importance. This will be developed in conjunction with regional partners to
ensure that interventions and policies are mutually supportive.

These improvements to quality of life are expected to have a number of benefits-
a growing population, with increasing numbers of people living, working and
relaxing in all parts of the City Region, with all communities enjoying success,
prosperity, rising aspirations and a cleaner, greener environment. By 2020 this
will result in:
     all communities enjoying, success, prosperity, and rising aspirations.
     increasing numbers of people living, working and relaxing in all its parts
     a large and wide ranging mixture of modern housing able to meet the
        needs of any individual or family,
     a cleaner and greener environment with above national average levels of
        recycling
     made progress towards carbon neutrality,
     an international reputation for its cultural, sporting and leisure facilities and
        events.

As the Framework makes clear, there is complexity in the formulation and
delivery of policy. Indeed, part of the added value of the City Region is an ability
to connect policy and coordinate project delivery. This Scoping Study therefore is
cognisant that whilst the „Creating a Better Quality of Life‟ section provides the
strategic direction for the work of the Quality of Life Steering Group, culture and
quality of life should also be seen within the context of the Framework for
Action‟s „Creating Employment and Prosperity‟ outcome.

As we have seen, part of the rise of the knowledge economy has been increased
economic significance for the cultural sector, and particularly creative industries.
This latter sector, alongside high technology and professional and business
services are prioritised within the „Creating Employment and Prosperity‟ section.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


2.5 SUMMARY

This chapter has aimed to provide some wider context, from which to frame
thinking about how quality of life in the BCBC City region can be improved and
how this can be achieved in a way that contributes to positive economic
performance.

We have seen that whilst an improved quality of life may bring benefits to all
residents, it is the extent to which a location can provide the services and
amenities which retain and attract entrepreneurs, highly skilled staff and
graduates that affects economic success. Providing and marketing these
features is where “the City Region comes into its own. The attractiveness of a
location is essentially determined by the attractiveness of the City region- its
leisure, cultural, education, environmental and other attributes, taken as a
whole”.

In the analytical framework of Parkinson et al, cultural infrastructure is seen as
one of a small number of „fundamentals‟ that determine quality of life and the
other key drivers of competitive economic performance.

Quality of life is defined in Parkinson‟s work as covering a broad range of factors,
including health, poverty and education. Within the urban competitiveness
agenda, they believe that it is the successful mix of amenities and services
(liveability and cultural, social infrastructure and networks) that make a place
attractive, providing a quality of life which is conducive to economic success.

“It is the mixture of ingredients that improve quality of life and make a sustainable
community with the assets of
      good environment,
      distinctive architecture
      cultural facilities,
      diverse housing stock
      access to natural amenities
an essential mix to attract the right kind of labour force to make a city
economically competitive.”

The Work Foundation‟s Ideopolis report is included to provide a more challenging
argument around City Regions and quality of life. They find that “distinctiveness
matters”; whilst knowledge workers and businesses will first look to job
availability, good public services, crime and liveability when deciding on a new
location, “distinctiveness could exercise significant influence over the final
location decision”. Distinctive factors include:
    shopping
    leisure facilities
    proximity to open spaces
    cultural offer


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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


They caution that knowledge workers want different things form a city at different
points in their life cycles. Lively city centres with lots of entertainment and cultural
facilities may attract young professionals but priorities may change as they bring
up families.

They also warn that distinctiveness has to be built on a city‟s historic and
contemporary assets- “the history of a city, its unique communities, shops and
culture”. Importing inappropriate ideas may lead to „clone cities‟ that reduce the
attractiveness of an area to entrepreneurs, investors and residents.

Evidence is provided of the positive impacts that culture can bring to urban
development, in terms of economy, place, environment and society. The tourism,
leisure and creative industries that make up the „cultural economy‟ are shown to
be economically significant within the West Midlands, making up 10% of
employment, 14.5% of businesses and 12.5% of GVA. The growth of creative
industries and the need for creativity across all businesses is highlighted.

Culture is also shown to be a positive element of urban development through:
    image change, affecting external perception and raising loyalty to place
    building based regeneration, as a catalyst for surrounding development
    good urban design, in improving well being, property prices, crime
       reduction and health
    social cohesion, bridging ethnic divides, encouraging inter-culturalism and
       developing locational identity


This chapter also draws attention to the BCBC Framework for Action. This
document summarises how the City Region intends to develop connected, co-
ordinated and cross border interventions to increase economic prosperity,
business confidence and environmental sustainability.

It contains a section entitled „Creating a Better Quality of Life‟ which provides a
strategic steer to the work of the QLSG. It is the purpose of this Scoping Study to
provide an evidence base from which the QLSG can determine how best to
assist the City Region to achieve its ambitions for improving quality of life.

The Quality of Life section contains five objectives:

           1. Substantially increase the City Region‟s population
           2. Commitment to environmental sustainability and the reduction of
              carbon emissions
           3. Accelerated implementation of Urban Renaissance
           4. Attract and retain high-income employees of the knowledge
              economy
           5. Develop cultural, leisure and sporting facilities and events




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


Of these, 3. is concerned with household growth and is being dealt with by
separate research. 4. also has a focus on household opportunities and the
diversification of communities. 2. is a cross cutting goal which it is intended
should be tackled by all of the Framework‟s themes.

This Scoping Study will therefore focus on the two remaining Quality of Life
objectives:

Substantially increase the City Region‟s population
There will be a particular focus on the retention and attraction of those
economically active and independent households that currently do not aspire to
live in the City Region, and on ensuring that all communities enjoy prosperity and
rising aspirations.

Central to this will be the development of a cleaner environment and the
provision of improved green spaces and infrastructure. We are committed to
shaping and assisting the delivery of quality places that improve and enhance the
living experience of all our citizens.

An ambitious, collaborative approach to enhanced cultural, sporting and leisure
facilities and events, especially through the development of important and
successful venues, will be implemented. In particular, we will develop and deliver
a coherent City Region “cultural offer” to help to promote the area on regional,
national and international stages.

Develop cultural, leisure and sporting facilities and events
Central to this approach will be an enhanced recognition of the important role
that the interaction between different cultures plays in defining and identifying the
City Region both internally and externally.

A coordinated cultural, leisure and sporting strategy will contribute to both the
economic diversification, and attractiveness, of the City Region. Build upon our
existing network of venues to enhance their national and international status and
importance. This will be developed in conjunction with regional partners to
ensure that interventions and policies are mutually supportive.




                                                                                   25
Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


CHAPTER 3

Strategic Context: Local Authority Cultural Strategies


Contents

   3.1 Introduction

   3.2 Vision Statements

   3.3 External Relationships, Linkages & Issues

   3.4 Strengths

   3.5 Weaknesses

   3.6 Themes:

             3.6.1 Image and Marketing

             3.6.2 Diversity and Inclusion

             3.6.3 Young People and Children

             3.6.4 Education and Lifelong Learning

             3.6.5 Events and festivals

             3.6.6 Health and Wellbeing

             3.6.7 Economy and Culture (including Creative Industries, Tourism
             and Leisure)

             3.6.8 Historic and Built Environment

             3.6.9 Community Safety




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


3.1       INTRODUCTION

This chapter reviews the cultural strategies for local authorities within the
Birmingham, Black Country and Coventry (BCBC) City-Region.

There are limitations to this research project that should be acknowledged. The
city-region consists of eight local authorities but only six cultural strategy
documents were available at the time of writing. Furthermore, it must be noted
that Local Authorities are not required to publish a cultural strategy, nor is there
any standard format which the documents must follow. As a result there are
considerable differences in the size, scope and emphasis of the different
strategies. For instance the strategy documents range from 7 pages in length to
106 pages. Related, service-focused documents (for example those pertaining
specifically to parks or green spaces) are not covered within the scope of this
review.

For Coventry and Birmingham, draft strategy documents were used as part of
this review. The titles and publication details of the documents used are listed
below:

         Birmingham City Council – Draft Cultural Strategy (2007), unpublished
         Coventry Cultural and Events Strategy – Consultation Draft (2007)
         Reasons To Be Cheerful – A Cultural Strategy for Dudley Metropolitan
          Borough Council 2006/7-2008/9 (2006)
         Sandwell‟s Cultural Strategy (2005)
         Heart and Soul – A Cultural Strategy For The Borough of Telford and
          Wrekin (2003)
         A Cultural Strategy For Wolverhampton (2006)


3.2       VISION STATEMENTS

The vision statements of the various cultural strategies can reveal something
about the direction of cultural policy within those local authorities; it can point out
the aspects of cultural policy which might be prioritised and provide insights as to
how local authorities view their cultural assets.

Birmingham City Council‟s cultural vision statement is the only one that aspires to
gaining international recognition, corresponding to one of its three „themes‟ which
endeavours to promote Birmingham as a „great international city‟.

Coventry‟s and Birmingham‟s vision statements are the only ones to profess
economic goals explicitly, with Birmingham‟s document aiming for „economic
success‟ and Coventry‟s strategy seeking to make Coventry a place „where
businesses choose to invest‟.



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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


Dudley‟s vision statement is the only one that explicitly refers to physical
heritage, in reference to the industrial and natural heritage assets that the
Council considers to be major strengths. Along with Birmingham and Sandwell,
Dudley‟s also makes reference to the diversity or „vibrancy‟ of its people.

Wolverhampton‟s vision statement puts emphasis on community-led goals.


3.3    EXTERNAL RELATIONSHIPS

To an extent, the cultural strategies of the six local authorities give an idea as to
their individual sense of identity and to how they relate to surrounding areas.

Birmingham‟s strategy recognises the city‟s relevance on an international scale,
and increasing international recognition is among its explicit aims. Coventry and
Wolverhampton are seen as sub-regional centres in the region. Wolverhampton‟s
strategy recognises that this means there is a greater range of „culture‟ than
would be expected in other towns, but the strategy seeks very much to focus on
community-based provision, accepting that there is „rather less‟ cultural provision
than can be found in Birmingham.

Coventry‟s strategy document suggests that some Coventrians thought the city
suffered from a sense of inferiority due to proximity to other large cities. Although
Coventry has excellent transport links from external locations in the UK, there
was also the suggestion that Coventry‟s links with the surrounding „hinterland‟
were more limited.

The strategies for Dudley and Sandwell in particular reveal an identity closely
connected to the Black Country, and together with Walsall MBC and
Wolverhampton CC there have been attempts to find common policy ground
under the auspices of the Black Country Consortium.

Telford and Wrekin‟s strategy sees the Borough as a gateway to the region.
However, the distance between Telford and Wrekin and other sub-regional
centres has prompted concern about the ability of people in the Borough to
access cultural facilities and products. The majority of people in the Borough
have to go outside it to engage in cultural activities, particularly in the evenings,
and to compound the problem, transport within the borough is viewed as being
poor.


3.4    STRENGTHS

The strategies of all the local authorities demonstrate confidence in the strengths
of their area.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


Interesting commonalities include that of physical and natural heritage; Dudley,
Telford and, to a lesser extent, Sandwell list physical and natural heritage as
major strengths, and unique selling points. The limestone strata and extractive
industrial sites in Dudley and the Ironbridge Gorge in Telford are among assets
that provide those local authorities with cultural „distinctiveness‟.

Birmingham cites its ability to hold world and European events as well as its
international cultural brands as key strengths.

Diversity is a prominent issue throughout most of the cultural strategy documents
and Coventry‟s strategy is particularly optimistic in seeing the cultural potential of
its diverse and young demographic.


3.5    WEAKNESSES

The strategy documents vary considerably in the number of weaknesses in
cultural provision that are described.

From the strategies that did refer to weaknesses, Coventry cited poor perception
of the City as a problem. Consultation showed that Coventry seemed „industrial‟
and „outdated‟ whilst other cities had „moved ahead‟. As a result of this, some
people in Coventry were, according to the strategy, reluctant to sell themselves
and their city. The Dudley strategy expresses concern at the branding of the
Black Country. Similarly, Wolverhampton‟s cultural strategy also cited the
nationally poor image of the city, but was confident that this poor image was
dispelled when people actually visited the city. Sandwell, Coventry and
Wolverhampton‟s strategy documents all suggested that potential to market
existing cultural assets was not being exploited sufficiently.

Consultation with people in Telford and Coventry separately, both indicated that
a major weakness in provision within those areas was the availability of provision
in the town and city centres. A lack of restaurants was referred to, and
developing the night-time economy was one of several key recommendations of
Telford‟s strategy.

Dudley MBC and Coventry CC both pointed to investment and finance as
problems, with Dudley‟s strategy adducing that over-reliance on external funding
was problematic and Coventry strategy indicating that pressure on budgets,
bureaucratic and inflexible regeneration initiatives and the short-term nature of
external funding were all barriers to cultural planning. Coventry‟s strategy also
showed concern at the limited sponsorship in the cultural sector.

Sandwell and Dudley‟s strategy documents also referred to the general lack of
cultural facilities in those local authority areas.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study



3.6   THEMES

Due to the great variation in structure of the local cultural strategy
documents, a comparative analysis was constructed around the prominent
themes within the strategies. This approach also allowed for common
agendas and priorities to be picked out.


3.6.1 IMAGE AND MARKETING

Poor image is evidently a problem for parts of the city-region. There are issues
relating to the promotion of cultural amenities to local residents and those to do
with attracting outsiders to live, work, study or visit. The need to be distinctive
and the diversity of the City Region‟s cultural offer provides a challenge for
marketing the area.

In terms of marketing the city-region, many unique assets and strengths of the
city-region are listed in the cultural strategy documents. These include the
extensive natural and industrial heritage in Dudley, Ironbridge Gorge in Telford,
the distinctive Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham and Dudley‟s glassmaking
industries. These are characteristic of other parts of the city-region. However,
Birmingham is keen to promote the city as cleaner and greener, as well as being
at the forefront of digital technology, through initiatives like Eastside. Since
Birmingham‟s strategy also has the city-region-wide marketing of culture among
its strategic objectives, there are clearly opportunities in terms of branding and
identity for the city-region but these will need to consider how to convincingly link
past and future.

In terms of marketing assets to the local population, several strategy documents
also detail the need to provide more awareness of cultural offer. Telford‟s
strategy suggests that more needs to be done to provide information for disabled
people on facilities and access.



3.6.2 DIVERSITY INCLUSION AND COHESION

Diversity and cohesion are also among the issues that are expanded upon in
each of the six documents that have been analysed. Birmingham and Coventry
emphasise the extent to which diversity has and will affect the area (Birmingham
will cease to have an ethnic majority in twenty years). This provides both
opportunities and challenges.

In terms of the opportunities, diversity allows for a more varied and vibrant
cultural offer to be provided; celebrating a diverse range of cultures is an aim of


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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


Sandwell and Birmingham. Coventry seeks to use its diversity to enhance its
reputation as a city of „peace and reconciliation.

However, there is also a need to engage groups that are harder to reach and to
take action to address barriers to participation. Wolverhampton and Birmingham
make it an objective to target and provide opportunities to BME groups, Coventry
also seeks to improve access to those from ethnic and faith groups, Dudley and
Sandwell seek to use culture to increase participation and cohesion. These
objectives often tie in with others around participation more widely; Birmingham
is looking to connect community provision with city-centre amenities and
Coventry similarly tends to identify initiatives that can help increase participation
for all communities. Dudley and Telford are looking to market more effectively to
those groups which are „hard to reach‟.

Catering for those with disabilities also features prominently in the cultural
strategy documents of Telford, Wolverhampton and Coventry. Coventry lists
among its initiatives, the goal of developing a reputation as an „accessible city‟
and Wolverhampton has a specific objective relating to increased usage of
cultural facilities by disabled people.


3.6.3 YOUNG PEOPLE AND CHILDREN

Adapting to the changing demography of the region is also among the key
themes of cultural strategy documents. Once again this is a policy area touched
upon in each of the strategy documents.

The focus of cultural policy related to children and young people varies between
the local authorities. Birmingham‟s strategic aim aspires to give young people
first-time cultural experiences. Coventry‟s consultation process in preparation for
their strategy highlighted the need for cultural activities in „priority areas‟.
Telford‟s consultation process showed that almost three quarters of young
people wanted to play a new sport that they do not play already. Wolverhampton
aims to increase participation of children and young people in arts facilities,
museums, libraries and achieves.


3.6.4 EDUCATION AND LIFELONG LEARNING

Support for the lifelong learning agenda is also part of cultural strategy
documents. For Dudley, Wolverhampton the focus is very much on using various
assets such as archives, libraries and schools to provide the opportunities for
community learning. Sandwell‟s strategy lists among its challenges, the usage of
schools for delivering extended learning services.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


Birmingham and Coventry both see a role for the creative and cultural sectors in
providing learning initiatives, in collaboration with educational organisations.
Coventry‟s strategy also sees the need to provide creative opportunities and links
with community and youth services.

Telford‟s actions include the delivery of an active retirement programme to 200
adults in priority wards.


3.6.5 EVENTS AND FESTIVALS

Events and festivals are recognised in five of the cultural strategy documents.
Dudley and Telford see the potential of events in making their town centres more
attractive and to celebrate culture in the area. Wolverhampton‟s strategy has an
objective relating to attracting regional and national sporting events across the
Black Country.

Birmingham and Coventry possess large venues, with Birmingham, in particular,
having the infrastructure to support large international events and festivals.
Birmingham has a specific objective related to developing niche events, and is
developing an ambitious International Digital event. Coventry seeks to build on its
existing programme of events such as Godiva and the Jazz Festival and develop
a distinctive programme for the 2012 cultural Olympiad. Coventry‟s strategy also
suggests the possibility of an awards ceremony for the creative and cultural
sectors.


3.6.6 HEALTH AND WELLBEING

Health and Wellbeing features within five of the six cultural strategy documents.
Coventry and Wolverhampton aim to improve the provision that is available for
leisure and in turn to improve participation rates. Sandwell, Dudley, Telford and
Wolverhampton all have strategic aims or objectives relating to the promotion of
healthier lifestyles.



3.6.7 CULTURAL ECONOMY

All six of the cultural strategy documents touch upon the economic aspect of
culture in one form or another. Birmingham and Coventry, in particular,
emphasise the importance of creative industries in their strategies, with 4 of the
24 objectives in Birmingham‟s strategy and 4 of 14 initiatives in Coventry‟s
strategy being directly related to the development and role of creative and
cultural industries. Birmingham identifies a strategic gap in requiring the further
development of artist-led spaces where collaboration between artists can occur.



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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


It seeks to fill this gap by encouraging affordable artist-led space as well as
developing events which enable art producers to engage with consumers.

Both Birmingham and Coventry also aim to develop links between creative
industries and those engaged in creative learning programmes. Coventry in
particular has specific initiatives which seek to support the Institute of Creative
Enterprise and Creative Village projects and develop a programme to integrate
schools and colleges with creative/cultural organisations and businesses.
Similarly, Sandwell has an „ambition‟ to strengthen the skills base to support the
development of creative industries.

Wolverhampton has specific objectives relating to the improvement of tourism
offer in the city.


3.6.8 HISTORIC NATURAL AND BUILT ENVIRONMENT

There are several issues relating to both the natural and built environment. The
condition of and cultural provision within town centres is an issue in both Telford
and Coventry. Only a quarter of residents in Coventry responded positively when
questioned about the state of the town centre, and there are concerns about
safety in city-centre spaces. Part of Coventry‟s response to these problems
includes using culture in the form of events and public art to improve those
spaces.

In Telford, the lack of a „night-time economy‟ was cited as a significant problem
for residents, who were forced to travel outside of area to find cultural amenities.
Recommendations in the strategy document include the development of a
cultural quarter and the usage of culture in the form of music and arts events.
The development of open spaces and built heritage sites for use as ad hoc
venues for cultural activities is also a strategic objective for Birmingham.
Similarly, Sandwell is also seeking to develop West Bromwich into a key visitor
destination and a focus for cultural activity.

There is an abundance of natural and built heritage sites in the city-region and
their general conservation is among objectives and actions for Birmingham,
Dudley and Telford. Birmingham‟s strategy refers to such conservation as to be
effective at establishing a distinctive identity.

3.6.9 COMMUNITY SAFETY

The cultural strategy documents of Coventry, Dudley, Telford and
Wolverhampton all touch upon the issue of community safety. Coventry and
Wolverhampton are both described as feeling unsafe to some people during the
evenings. In Telford, young people listed the fear of crime as among the two
most important barriers to participation in cultural activities.



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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study



Wolverhampton‟s action plan seeks to improve the perception of safety,
especially in parks. Dudley‟s strategy sees it move toward partnership working
between police, community groups and other relevant bodies.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


CHAPTER 4

Strategic Context: Regional Strategies



Contents

   4.1 Introduction

   4.2 West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy

   4.3 West Midlands Regional Economic Strategy

   4.4 Regional Cultural Strategy

   4.5 Visitor Economy Strategy




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


4.1    INTRODUCTION

This chapter is concerned with four major regional strategic documents for the
West Midlands; the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), the Regional Economic
Strategy (RES), the Regional Cultural Strategy (RCS) and the Regional Visitor
Economy Strategy (VES). The chapter summarises strategic priorities, objectives
and issues relating to culture, the „quality of life‟ agenda and City-Regional
development.


4.2    WEST MIDLANDS REGIONAL SPATIAL STRATEGY

The Vision for the West Midlands in the RSS specifically mentions the
importance of quality of life; it envisions the West Midlands becoming,
“economically successful, outwardly looking and adaptable…which is rich in
culture and environment, where people working together are able to meet their
aspirations and needs without prejudicing the quality of life for future
generations.” (pp.16)

The RSS expressly acknowledges the challenges faced by the region as
presented by the Regional Sustainable Development Framework (2006). These
challenges include the movement of people and jobs away from urban areas,
increasing social exclusion and deprivation in urban neighbourhoods, lower
economic growth than other UK regions and a high proportion of the workforce
having no formal qualifications or low-level qualifications only. The RSS
recognises that the outward movement of people and jobs from the major urban
areas is an unsustainable trend and seeks to address it.

City-Regional Implication of the RSS

The RSS recognises that the City Region contains a large part of the Region‟s
economy and that it also has the potential to significantly improve the region‟s
economic performance. The following is taken from a section of the RSS that
sets out linkages with the RES:

“In-line with the Spatial Strategy, urban renaissance is at the heart of the City
Region‟s vision. Reversing the trend of both net out migration of people and
investment from its urban core…requires a radical and bold approach. The
alignment of housing growth and renewal policies with interventions to improve
skills, economic development and investment, transport, the provision of „green
infrastructure‟ and overall quality of life will make a substantial contribution to
meeting these aspirations and delivering the region‟s aims for urban
renaissance.”

Birmingham is described as at the heart of the city-region and its continuing
development is described as „critical‟ to enhancing its position in the global



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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


economy. The city-centre is described as vibrant and the airport is identified as
an important gateway into the city. However, challenges around economic
inequality and the need to regenerate parts of the city are also recognised. The
RES will complement the RSS in “aiming to achieve Birmingham‟s status as
competing as a global city by supporting the development of the City Centre and
maximising the benefits of the major transport, commercial and cultural assets”.

Solihull‟s „role‟ of being linked to both Birmingham and Warwickshire is described
as pivotal, and the airport and NEC are highlighted as key assets. The RSS aims
to realise the economic potential of Solihull, as part of the City Region‟s growth,
whilst protecting its character and quality (especially of its mature suburbs),
enhance the town centre, regenerate North Solihull and maintain the greenbelt
between Solihull and Coventry.

The Black Country is described as the traditional industrial heartland of the
region but has failed to attract the investment that is driving economic growth
elsewhere in the UK and has problems retaining skilled workers. The RES will
complement the RSS in “the development of the strategic centres and the
creation of Employment Land Corridors for future knowledge-based businesses”.

Telford is the largest urban area outside of the major urban areas (MUAs) and
has considerable potential for further growth. It is generally a self contained
employment area which does not have significant commuting patterns with the
rest of the City Region. However, it is competing with the Black Country in
attracting a skilled (AB) workforce and therefore the development of Telford must
be considered with regard to the urban renaissance aims of the Black Country.
“The RES will focus on [Telford‟s] town centres and support the RSS in achieving
a renewed sense of place”.

Coventry is a compact city that is part of the City region but also has strong
economic and social ties with Warwickshire. The RES will complement the RSS
in supporting the urban renaissance of Coventry city centre. It will support “the
creative sector in Leamington and Coventry . . . promote the importance of the
World Class Stratford initiative, the role of Stratford and the sub-regional visitor
economy”.

Notable Policies

Policies UR 1-3 – Urban Renaissance

UR1 states that regional and local authorities and partnerships should work
together to implement urban renaissance in the MUAs. This includes:
    environmental improvements including „greening‟ programmes and
      conservation of the historic environment;
    rejuvenation of urban centres;
    raising the quality of urban design, architecture and public art and spaces.


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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study



UR2 identifies a number of local regeneration areas, including Telford, which
should bring forward local regeneration- without prejudicing the focus of
resources in the MUAs.

UR3 prioritises a number of city and town centres (see PA11 below) to play a
leading role in urban renaissance, including:
    identifying and creating opportunities for development, particularly for . . .
       leisure, tourism, cultural . . . services which are accessible to all.
    Ensuring the highest standards of design are adopted, building on the
       existing character and identity of centres.



Policy SR2 - Sustainable Communities

This policy recognises that sustainable communities can only be maintained if
they contribute to environmental, social and economic objectives. SR2 advises
that regional and local authorities and other agencies should make provision for:
    The creation of attractive well-designed, adaptable, safe and secure
       developments which have a sense of place, that respond to the distinctive
       features of the site, integrate with their surrounding context, respect and
       enhance local character, and maximise the reuse of buildings and
       brownfield land.
    Necessary services and social infrastructure to meet the needs of the
       population including health, education and skills, spiritual, sport and
       recreation and cultural facilities
    A comprehensive green infrastructure network that provides the full range
       of environmental services, including mitigation and adaptation to a
       changing climate, accessible green-space for walking and cycling, sport
       and recreation, health and wellbeing and protects and consolidates and
       enhances biodiversity and geo-diversity, especially the region‟s European
       sites and its historic assets and landscape character.

Policies PA10-PA12 – Tourism and Culture, Town and City Centres, Birmingham
as a Global City

Policies relating to prosperity include PA10, which encourages the further
development of tourism and culture, as a key element in the diversification of the
regional economy. A number of key assets are identified, including the NEC, the
International airport, the ICC, Eastside, Stratford-Upon-Avon, the region‟s theatre
and live music venues, the Black Country heritage attractions, Ironbridge Gorge,
the canal network, museums, major libraries and archive collections, indoor and
outdoor sports stadia and venues.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


Large scale, innovative projects should be located where they are well served by
public transport and where they contribute to regeneration. Large-scale tourism
developments in particular will need to demonstrate that they are compatible with
the environment and character of the countryside.

PA11 identifies 25 towns and cities in the region, including Birmingham, Brierley
Hill, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Solihull, Telford, Walsall, Sutton Coldfield and
West Bromwich. These should be the preferred locations for uses which attract
large numbers of people, including major cultural, indoor sport, tourist, social,
leisure and community venues.

PA12 supports Birmingham‟s role as a global city, and recommendations include
the development of Birmingham as a major centre for business tourism and
major cultural, sporting and other tourist facilities and activities.

Policies QE2-QE5: Quality of Environment

Policy QE2 is aimed at restoring degraded areas and optimises the contribution
that the natural, built and historic environment can make to regeneration.

In creating high quality built environments, QE3 states that particular attention
should be given to:
     Using architecture, urban and landscape design which respects regional
       and local character, culture and history.
     Promoting public art

QE4 aims to ensure adequate provision of high quality urban greenspace, with
an emphasis on improving the quality of public spaces in city and town centres,
maintaining and enhancing sports, playing fields and recreation grounds. Urban
greenspace networks should be enhanced and parks, footpaths and cycleways,
river valleys, canals and open spaces protected.

QE5 seeks to protect and enhance the historic environment, managing change in
such a way that respects local character and distinctiveness. Assets of particular
historic significance to the region are identified and include the Jewellery Quarter
and Ironbridge Gorge. It encourages that buildings of historic and architectural
value are used as a focus for regeneration.



4.3    WEST MIDLANDS REGIONAL ECONOMIC STRATEGY

The RES vision for the West Midlands is summarised as:
“To be a global centre where people and businesses choose to connect.”

It aims to achieve this by:



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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


       Becoming a more prosperous region, shared by all the region‟s residents
       Becoming a more cosmopolitan and inclusive region, making full use of
        skills and talents
       Becoming a more sustainable region, valuing natural, historic and cultural
        assets and preparing for a low carbon future.

It recognises the opportunities offered by the region‟s highly diverse population
as well as the potential in the demographic nature of urban centres in the
Midlands, which tend to have large and varied populations of young people
whose, “energy and spirit is vital to securing our economic objectives.”

Landscape, food, attractions, heritage sites and cultural sites such as Stratford,
Warwick Castle and The Balti Belt among others are referenced as evidence of
existing cultural assets within the region, and cited as major attractions to
visitors. Sporting events held in the region including Edgbaston Cricket Ground,
The Belfry and the NIA (which hosts the Davis Cup) are also highlighted as
assets.

Business

In terms of Business, manufacturing is seen as a major employer, with „higher-
value strands‟ highlighted as an area of potential growth. High value added
consumer products (including craft industries), Tourism and Leisure and Screen
Image and Sound remain among the region‟s priority business clusters. ICT,
Digital content and associated creative industries are seen to have “healthy
prospects”.

Regional diversity and the region‟s young demographic is also alluded to as
potential contributors to entrepreneurialism and enterprise.

Strategic Objective 1.8
Stimulating innovation, creativity and knowledge generation to take the region to
the forefront of intellectual property development and drive forward the
commercialisation of technical and non-technical knowledge; partly by better
utilising the region‟s creative economy.

Place

Strategic Objective 2.1: Birmingham as a global city
The perception and image of the region as a place is thought to be integral in
shaping the future of the region. However, the perception of outsiders is
described in the strategy as „weak‟ and „outdated‟. Shaping perception is
consequently established as part of the strategic objective which is aimed at
enhancing Birmingham‟s credentials as a global city and gateway to the region.
Significant cultural assets are recognised as attracting people to the region.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


Strategic Objective 2.5: Developing Sustainable Communities
Sustainable communities require a balanced approach, in both urban and rural
areas. This includes the need for “high-quality and well designed physical
environment”. Encouraging high-quality sustainable communities in both urban
and rural areas forms the focus of this objective.

Strategic Objective 2.7: Maximising Our Cultural Offer and Natural Assets
The focus of this strategic objective is the acceleration of attraction, relocation
and retention of visitors, people and businesses to the region by promoting high-
quality cultural offer as well as tourism and natural assets, in order to maximise
benefits for the region as a whole.

People

The rationale behind most of this section is the importance of the region‟s
retaining skilled and creative individuals with a view to regional economic
prosperity. Once again, immigration (from European accession states) and the
young demographic, of Birmingham in particular, are all highlighted as potential
assets.

Much of the section revolves around the importance of the region to develop a
strong skills base.

Powerful Voice

Strategic Objective 4.3: To position the West Midlands as a global centre where
people and businesses choose to connect.
This objective seeks to promote the region and attract or retain investors, visitors,
students and residents, by making the most of assets and acting collectively to
reflect all the elements of the region‟s population.



4.4       REGIONAL CULTURAL STRATEGY

The Regional Cultural Strategy is a framework designed to encourage
organisations across the region to support a number of regional priorities for
action. Priorities are identified under three thematic areas:

Active People

Priorities around this theme are:

         To widen access and ensure relevance and targeting so that barriers and
          the needs of the under-represented are identified and addressed.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


         To involve schools, children‟s services the voluntary and community
          sector and families – so that culture media and sport play a full part in the
          development of children and young people.
         To widen employment of our rich cultural diversity
         To promote more opportunities for people to take part in informal
          recreation and sport.


Vibrant Places

Priorities around this theme are:

         To improve marketing and promotion in order to raise awareness of
          opportunities in cultural learning and enjoyment.
         To improve the understanding, quality and enjoyment of our natural, built
          and historic environment
         To ensure that a powerful cultural dimension is integrated into local and
          sub-regional plans and strategies.
         To focus on priority areas and improve provision where people are under-
          served, to improve quality of life in deprived neighbourhoods.

Lasting prosperity

Priorities around this theme are:

         To achieve a closer alignment of planning processes and investment
          allocations between the cultural sectors and those of regeneration,
          learning and economic development agencies,
         To focus support on creative business start-ups, innovation, new
          enterprise, along with improved access to services in businesses and
          skills development. To develop the management, leadership and
          entrepreneurial skills of the cultural sectors themselves and to build their
          capacity to respond to changing demands.
         To develop cultural and creative models as ladders of opportunity for
          young people, graduates, under-represented groups and communities, in
          order to develop their enterprise skills and employability.



4.5       REGIONAL VISITOR ECONOMIC STRATEGY

The new Visitor Economic Strategy has a „refocused‟ vision for the next three
years, which involves the following aims:




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


      To deliver Birmingham as a premier European city break destination that
       celebrates contemporary culture and to enhance the city‟s role as an
       international leader in the conference and exhibition sector.
      To capitalise on the region‟s world class business tourism venues
      To place contemporary culture and the cultural heritage of the West
       Midlands at the heart of the visitor experience and to use it to drive visitors
       to the region, capitalising on the short-break market and the opportunities
       afforded by the cultural Olympiad.
      To deliver high quality food and drink experiences that capture the very
       best of the English countryside and shire or market towns
      To make the Midlands a region of celebration throughout the year led by
       high profile events and festivals.

The four market growth areas of opportunity identified by the strategy are
conferences and exhibitions, culture, festivals and events and food/drink.


Market Opportunities: Culture

The strategy cites culture as an important contributor to the regional economy, a
key driver of overseas visits, and a way to communicate distinctiveness.

The regional priorities for culture are as follows:
    To invest in the marketing of performing arts and the contemporary culture
      of Birmingham
    To support the development of marketing of the 2009 regionally significant
      anniversaries programme.
    To establish a strong programme of events and activities as part of the
      cultural Olympiad.
    To support world class Stratford
    To ensure culture and heritage are included in market segmentation work
      in the region
    To address the need for business skills and assistance to the cultural and
      heritage sector
    To invest in marketing activity that uses culture as one focus for
      international leisure marketing
    To support marketing through the RSC and Birmingham Royal Ballet as
      UK leaders in touring companies and ambassadors for culture in the
      region,


Market Opportunities: Events and festivals

The regional priorities for Events and festivals are as follows:
    To maximise opportunities afforded by the presence of major venues able
      to host large international indoor events.


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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


      To produce an up-to-date regional database of events and festivals and
       then use this as a base to identify existing festivals with growth potential
      To undertake segmentation work to refine target markets and inform
       priorities.
      To target investment at events which add value to other growth
       opportunities, that have the potential to deliver short-breaks and repeat
       visits and those that match target segments.
      To target and support international and national events seeking a
       destination where the event will add value to market growth opportunities.
      To maximise the use of large indoor event spaces and their potential to
       stimulate city breaks in Birmingham,
      To showcase best practice at events and deliver world class booking and
       information.


Transformational Projects

Transformational projects are about large-scale capital investment which has the
capacity to enhance the profile of the region, bring sustainable economic benefits
to the visitor economy and stimulate investment in that economy. They should
also contribute towards local and regional pride. The VES cites World Class
Stratford as a good example of a transformational project.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


CHAPTER 5

Consulting the Cultural Sector: Questionnaire Results


Contents


   5.1 Introduction

   5.2 Local and Regional Cultural Strengths

   5.3 City-Regional Cultural Strengths

   5.4 Gaps and Weaknesses

   5.5 Future Gaps

   5.6 Plans for Future Development of Culture

   5.7 Cultural Priorities

   5.8 Additional Comments

   5.9 SWOT analysis and Questions Arising




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


5.1    INTRODUCTION

This chapter collates responses to a questionnaire which was sent to the heads
of culture and leisure (or equivalent post) of each of the city-region‟s eight local
authorities and to all the regional bodies represented on the West Midlands
Cultural Forum. Responses were received by all local authorities and all of the
regional bodies attending the Quality of Life Group:

Local Authorities:
   1. Birmingham
   2. Coventry
   3. Dudley
   4. Sandwell
   5. Solihull
   6. Telford
   7. Walsall
   8. Wolverhampton

Regional Bodies:
  1. Arts Council England
  2. Advantage West Midlands
  3. English Heritage
  4. Museums, Libraries and Archives
  5. Play England
  6. Sport England
  7. West Midlands Local Government Association/Regional Assembly


This chapter is broken down into sections, with each one relating to a single
question on the questionnaire. Responses to each question are summarised into
a table and ordered into either cultural sub-sectors, e.g. „arts‟, „sports‟, or into
other categories, e.g. „infrastructure‟, „economic‟. It should be noted that the
„heritage‟ sub-sector contains the built, natural and historic environment, as well
as museums. The categories used vary between tables according to the
responses received. For example, Tables 4 and 4b have a marketing category
due to the number of responses referencing this.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study




5.2     CULTURAL STRENGTHS

Local authorities were asked: “What are the cultural strengths of your area?”
Regional bodies were asked “What are the cultural strengths of the region?”



Local cultural strengths

A total of 74 local strengths were identified by local authorities in answer to
Question 1. These are either individual assets (e.g. Sutton Park) or a number of
assets that are collectively a strength (e.g. Hotel infrastructure in Solihull, or the
Canal network). Almost 40% of this total are arts-related strengths, with the
majority of these being Birmingham-based. This category includes arts venues,
production companies, galleries, creative industries and events. Solihull is the
only local authority which does not list an arts strength.

In this table, historic, built and natural Heritage is categorised together and also
features heavily in the assets identified by local authority respondents. Fifteen
heritage assets are identified; six museums and a library, five strengths related to
historic, geological or archaeological importance and a further three natural
strengths within the Telford area.

There are 12 sports strengths. The largest venues submitted by respondents are
based in Birmingham and Wolverhampton, with the majority of these commercial
operations. Telford also has several smaller assets. Two national sports venues
are cited- Lilleshall and Walsall Karate Centre.

Solihull‟s listing of the Birmingham International Airport, NEC and hotels marks it
out as being key to the tourism infrastructure of the city-region.

All local authorities, apart from Coventry and Solihull, included their premier
parks and the canal network was cited as a strength by Birmingham, Walsall and
Wolverhampton.

A number of cross-cutting strengths are captured, with community engagement
included by Sandwell, Telford and Walsall and the voluntary sector given as a
Coventry strength. Existing successful joint working is evidenced by the inclusion
of the Black Country Arts Partnership.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study



                                      Table 1.
       Local Cultural Strengths- identified by CR Quality of Life Group (LAs)

     Arts          Greenspace    Heritage         Informal        Sports           Tourism
                                                  Leisure
1    Bham Rep      Sutton Park   Think Tank       Severn          Premiership /    19m visitors
                                                  Valley          Championship     to Bham
                                                  Railway         football-
                                                                  Villa, Blues,
                                                                  WBA, Wolves,
                                                                  Walsall
                                                                   + AFC
                                                                  Telford
2    Symphony      Leasowes      Ironbridge       Dudley zoo      Edgbaston        7.5m visitors
     Hall          Park          museum           and castle      cricket ground   to Solihull
3    Bham Town     Sandwell      Museum of        Walsall         Alexander        Birmingham
     Hall          Valley        Steel            Illuminations   Stadium          International
                                 sculpture                                         Airport
4    Hippodrome    Telford       Cov Transport    Broad St        Horseracing      NEC
                   Town Park     Museum           club scene      (W‟ton)
                                                  (Bham)
5    The Place     West Park     Black Country    Rock & Pop      Cycling          Hotel
                                 Museum           music           (Aldersley       infrastructure
                                                  (W‟ton)         stadium)         (Solihull)
6    CBSO and      Arboretum     Leather          Retail -        Shooting         Telford Int.
     BCMG          (Walsall)     Museum           Birmingham      (Aldersley       Centre
                                 (Walsall)                        stadium)
7    BRB           Canal         Aston Hall       V Festival      Telford Ice      Access via
                   Network                                        Rink             M6
                   (Bham,
                   W‟ton,
                   Walsall)
8    BOC                         Oak House,                       Lilleshall
                                 Barns and                        National
                                 Gardens &                        Sports Centre
                                 Galton Valley
                                 Canal
                                 Heritage
                                 Centre
                                 (Sandwell)
9    Dance                       Jewellery                        National
     (B‟ham)                     Quarter                          Karate Centre
                                                                  Walsall
10   The Drum                    Archaeological                   Tipton Sports
                                 finds                            Acadamy
                                 (Sandwell)                       (Tennis and
                                                                  Athletics)
11   Warwick                     Bham Library                     Hadley
     Arts Centre                                                  Learning
                                                                  Centre
12   The MAC                     Wrens Nest                       Telford and
                                                                  Wrekin
                                                                  colleges
13   BMAG                        The Wrekin


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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study

14   Barber                        Much Wenlock
     Institute
15 Ikon                            Wenlock Edge
16 W‟ton Art
     Gallery
17 New Art
     Gallery
     Walsall
18 Bilston Art
     Gallery
19 Festivals
     and Events
     (Bham and
     Cov)
20 Outdoor
     Events
     (Sandwell)
21 Creative
     Industries
     (Bham, Cov)
22 Glass
     Industry
23 Leather
     industry
     Walsall
24 Custard
     Factory
25 Light House
     Media
     Centre
26 Modern
     architecture
     (Bham & the
     Public,
     Sandwell)
27 Voluntary
     arts (Dudley)
28 BCAP Arts
     In Health
Cross-domain strengths-
Voluntary Sector is a Coventry strength. Community engagement is a strength for Sandwell,
Telford and Walsall. Black Country Arts Partnership is a strength for Walsall, Wolverhampton,
Sandwell and Dudley
No strengths were suggested under either Audio/Visual or Play domains.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


Regional cultural strengths

The regional agencies identified a total of 84 cultural strengths within the region.
Of these 14 are located outside of the City Region and include four arts venues
(The RSC and Compton Verney in Warwickshire, Hereford‟s Courtyard Theatre
and the New Vic in Staffordshire), areas of natural beauty (Cotswalds, Peak
District and the Malvern Hills) and heritage assets (cathedrals, stately homes,
Warwick Castle and a number of historic buildings on the edge of the City Region
(Boscobel House, Whitwick Manor).

Again, arts strengths, at 43% of the total, provide the largest category (8
performing arts, 2 arts centres, 7 galleries, 3 cinemas and 7 strengths relating to
creative industries). Whilst most of these are building based, there are eight arts
organisations identified.

The number of heritage strengths is also regionally as well as locally significant.
Indeed, if architectural strengths are included in this category it becomes as
sizeable as the arts category. Over half of the architecture assets (8) are located
in Birmingham, with the remainder in Coventry (3), the Black Country (3) and one
outside of the City Region.

Regional bodies identify 50% less sports strengths than the local authorities and
there is also a smaller number of greenspace strengths, with Sutton Park being
the only park selected as a regional strength.




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     Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


                                         Table 2.
Regional Cultural Strengths- identified by CR Quality of Life Group (Agencies)
     Arts            Green         Heritage (inc.   Informal   Sports      Architecture    Play
                     Space         built)           Lesiure
1    Birmingham      Sutton Park   Historic         Alton      All Major   Coventry        £14m BIG
     arts,                         environment      Towers     Football    Cathedral       investment
     museums &                     (urban &                    Clubs
     libraries                     rural)                      and
                                                               Stadia
2    Birmingham      Birmingham    Warwick          Bullring   Midlands    Victoria
     Rep             Allotments    Castle                      Sailing     Square
                                                               Club
3    The New Vic                   Leather          Balti      Edgbasto    Selfridges
                                   Museum           Triangle   n Cricket
                                                               ground
4    Symphony                      Jewellery        Digbeth    Dog         Birmingham
     Hall                          Quarter          Pubs       Racing      City Centre
                                                                           (thoroughfare
                                                                           of cultural
                                                                           and public
                                                                           spaces)
5    Hippodrome                    Botanic          Farmers    W‟ton       Belgrade
                                   Gardens          Markets    Central     theatre
                                   Edgbaston                   Swimmin
                                                               g Baths
6    RSC                           Whitwick                    The NIA     New Art
                                   Manor                                   Gallery –
                                                                           Walsall
7    BRB                           Moseley Old                             Courtyard
                                   Hall                                    Theatre
8    CBSO                          National                                Public
                                   Motorcycle                              Square
                                   Museum,                                 (Coventry)
                                   Solihull
9    Sampad                        Boscobel                                The Public
                                   House

10   Warwick Arts                  Birmingham                              Tipton Hindu
     Centre                        Photo                                   Temple
                                   Archive
11   The Drum                      Malvern Hills                           Fort Dunlop
12   BMAG                          Peak District                           Spaghetti
                                                                           Junction
13   Walsall Art                   Cotswolds                               Ikon
     Gallery
14   W‟tonon Art                   Shakespeare‟                            Rotunda
     Gallery                       s Stratford
15   Ikon Gallery                  Stately                                 Jewellery
                                   Homes                                   School
16   Bilston Craft                 Cathedrals
     Gallery
17   Compton                       The Potteries
     Verney
18   The Public                    Wren‟s Nest



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     Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study

19   Craftspace                Ironbridge
     Touring
20   Vivid                     Waterways
21   Fierce
22   Seeing The
     Light
23   Tindal Street
     Press
24   Creative
     industries
25   Leather in
     Walsall
26   Computer
     Gaming
27   Glass,
     Dudley
28   Pottery,
     Staffs
29   Jewellery
30   Serious
     Games
     Institute
31   Custard
     Factory
32   Light House
33   Star City
34   Electric
     Cinema
35   NEC and
     ICC
36   Millennium
     Point




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study



5.3     CITY-REGIONAL CULTURAL STRENGTHS

“Would you consider any of these strengths to be of City-Regional significance?”

A total of 119 cultural strengths for the City Region are jointly identified by the
local authorities and regional agencies. Of these, over 50 are located in
Birmingham and just 4 are outside of the City Region boundary (RSC/Swan,
Severn Valley Railway, Alton Towers and the Potteries).

This city-regional assessment once again highlights arts as a key overall strength
with 41 arts-related assets identified, including 11 relating to the creative
industries. Over half of these are Birmingham-based, with six in Coventry, 9 in
the Black Country and one in Telford (The Place). Creative industry strengths are
widely spread, with glass in Dudley, leather in Walsall, jewellery in Birmingham,
the Staffordshire Potteries, together with computer gaming in the east of the City
Region and Coventry‟s Serious Games Institute and Institute for Creative
Enterprise.

Built and Natural Heritage make up the second largest group of assets, again
with the majority (14) being in the Black Country and Telford. Architectural
strengths are again mainly concentrated in Birmingham. Museum strengths
include the Coventry Transport Museum, Aston Hall, Think Tank, Ironbridge,
National Motorcycle Museum, Black Country Museum and Walsall Leather
Museum.

Twelve sporting venues are listed among those city-regionally significant (major
football clubs are categorised as one strength). Telford listed five sporting venues
that are smaller in scale than the facilities listed by other respondents.
Birmingham is home to Premier League football, the Edgbaston Cricket Ground,
the NIA and the Alexander Stadium. Wolverhampton also has some city-
regionally significant sporting infrastructure in its Racecourse, swimming baths
and Aldersley Stadium. However, neither Dudley, Sandwell nor Solihull listed a
sport-related asset as amongst those city-regionally significant.

The survey confirmed Solihull‟s city-regional significance in providing transport
and events infrastructure, key to tourism and business. In terms of Green Space,
four parks are listed in Birmingham, Sandwell, Telford and Wolverhampton,
together with the Black Country Urban Park initiative. The canal network is again
highlighted by three respondents.

In the „informal leisure‟ category four of the fifteen cultural strengths compiled
were major shopping centres, three in Birmingham and Merry Hill in Dudley. Five
can be seen as contributing to a „vibrant‟ city centre evening experience- Broad
Street club scene, Balti Triangle, music venues in Wolverhampton and Digbeth.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study



                                      Table 3.
       City-Regional Cultural Strengths- identified by CR Quality of Life Group
                          (Local Authorities and Agencies)
                    Green           Heritage        Informal
     Arts                                                            Sports          Architecture
                    Space           (inc. built)    Lesiure
1                                                                    Premiershi
                                                                     p/
                                                                     Champions
                                                                     hip football-
                                    Museums &                        Villa,
                                    Galleries of    Broad St club    Blues,          19m visitors
     Bham Rep       Sutton Park
                                    International   scene            WBA,            to Bham
                                    status                           Coventry,
                                                                     Wolves,
                                                                     Walsall
                                                                     + AFC
                                                                     Telford
2                                                                                    Birmingham
     Symphony       Sandwell                        Severn Valley
                                    Think Tank                       Edgbaston       International
     Hall           Valley                          Railway
                                                                                     Airport
3                                   Coventry
     Bham Town                                                       Alexander
                    West Park       Transport                                        NEC
     Hall                                                            Stadium
                                    Museum
4                                                                    National
                    Telford Town    Ironbridge      Dudley zoo and
     Hippodrome                                                      Indoor          ICC
                    Park            museum          castle
                                                                     Arena
5                                   Museum of                        W‟ton
     The            Black Country                   Sparkbrook                       Telford Int.
                                    Steel                            Racecours
     Belgrade       Urban Park                      Balti Triangle                   Centre
                                    sculpture                        e
6                                                                    W‟ton
                                                                     Central
                    Canal                                            swimming
     Little Civic   Network         Black                            baths
                                                                                     Millennium
     and Wulfrun    (Bham,          Country         Merry Hill       (national
                                                                                     Point
     Hall           W‟ton,          Museum                           short
                    Walsall,)                                        course
                                                                     swimming
                                                                     venue)
7                                   National
                                                                     Cycling
     The Place                      Motorcycle
                                                    The Bullring     (Aldersley
     (Telford)                      Museum
                                                                     stadium)
                                    (Solihull)
8                                   Walsall                          Shooting
     RSC/Swan                       leather         The Mailbox      (Aldersley
                                    Museum                           stadium)
9    CBSO and                       Horsehay                         Telford Ice
                                                    Brindley Place
     BCMG                           Steam Trust                      Rink
10                                                                   Lilleshall
                                    Birmingham
                                                                     National
     BRB                            Photo           Star City
                                                                     Sports
                                    Archive
                                                                     Centre
11                                  Glass                            Telford and
                                                    Digbeth music
     BOC                            Archive/colle                    Wrekin
                                                    pubs
                                    ction                            colleges


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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study

                                (Dudley)
12                                                               Hadley
     Sampad                     Bham Library    Alton Towers     Learning
                                                                 Centre
13                              Jewellery       Farmers
     Fierce
                                Quarter         Markets
14   Dance in                                   Midlands
                                Aston Hall
     Bham                                       Sailing Club
15                              Moseley Old
     MAC                                        Dog Racing
                                Hall
16                              Whitwick
     Drum                                       The V-Festival
                                Manor
17                              Industrial
     Warwick Arts
                                heritage
     Centre
                                (Dudley)
18                              Geology
     BMAG
                                (Dudley)
19                              Archaeologic
     Ikon                       al finds
                                (Sandwell)
20   Barber                     Much
     Institute                  Wenlock
21   W‟ton
                                Wenlock
     Gallery (Pop
                                Edge
     art)
22   Bilston
                                Wrens Nest
     Gallery
                                (Dudley)
     (cont. crafts)
23   Walsall Art
                                The Wrekin
     gallery
24   Herbert Art
     Gallery
25   The Public                 Architecture
26   Seeing The                 Victoria
     Light                      Square
27   Craftspace
                                Selfridges
     Touring
28                              Birmingham
                                City Centre
                                (thoroughfare
     Vivid
                                of cultural
                                and public
                                spaces)
29   Festivals &
     Events
                                Belgrade
     (Bham)
                                theatre
     Godiva
     Festival(Cov)
30                              New Art
     Voluntary
                                Gallery –
     arts (Dudley)
                                Walsall
31   Forest Arts
                                Courtyard
     Centre
                                Theatre
     (Walsall)
32                              Modern



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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study

                                      architecture
                                      (Bham)
33                                    Public
     Creative
                                      Square
     Industries
                                      (Coventry)
34   Creative                         The Public
     Industries
     (Bham)
35   Institute for                    Tipton Hindu
     Creative                         Temple
     Enterprise
36   Serious                          Fort Dunlop
     Games
     Institute
37   Custard                          Spaghetti
     Factory                          Junction
38   Light House                      Ikon
39   Electric                         Rotunda
     cinema
40   Leather in                       Coventry
     Walsall                          Cathedral
41   Computer                         Jewellery
     Gaming                           School
42   Glass,
     Dudley
43   Pottery,
     Staffs
44   Jewellery,
     Bham
Play provision that encourages „great days out for the whole family‟




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


5.4     GAPS AND WEAKNESSES

“What do you think are the major gaps/weaknesses in the cultural offer of the City Region?”

Responses by local authorities are summarised in Table 4a. Responses by
regional bodies are summarised in Table 4b.

The majority of gaps and weaknesses listed by local authorities were marketing-
related. Nine of the gaps and weaknesses listed were marketing-related, and of
them five responses made reference to the lack of coherence or co-ordination in
terms of marketing of city-regional cultural assets. Birmingham‟s response
specifically talked about the lack of regional cultural identity as a barrier.
Solihull‟s response suggested that perception of quality of life in the region was
poor whilst Coventry‟s response cited international marketing as a weakness.
Three responses from regional bodies also pointed to weaknesses in marketing.

Regional bodies‟ responses most often cited infrastructure shortcomings as
significant gaps and weaknesses for the city-region. In total nine responses by
regional bodies alluded to these problems with five of them specifically citing
transport issues and problems relating to the access to cultural facilities. These
responses included the opinion that access to Stratford which has key cultural
assets outside the city-region, was poor. Access to evening economy provision
was also cited as being poor by ACE, and this perhaps exacerbates the problem
of poor evening economy provision outside of Birmingham, as was stated in
Telford‟s response.

Heritage/green space weaknesses were cited three times in both the responses
from local authorities and regional bodies, two of which suggested that the Black
Country Urban Park and cultural infrastructure necessary to support it had
become a gap for the city-region. Sport provision gaps were also stated three
times in both the local authority and regional body responses. From these six
references, three suggested that a water-based facility was needed such as an
aquatic activity centre or a 50m swimming pool. The lack of excellence in parks
and the lack of staff presence in green spaces were the other issues highlighted
around green space and heritage sites.

In terms of festivals and events, the response of Wolverhampton cited the lack of
space to hold a large festival in the west of the city-region as a gap. Another
response called for the creation of a signature event to market the region, along
the lines of the Great North Run.

Other issues mentioned included the general lack of cultural infrastructure and
poor transport provision in Telford, the need for interactive museums and
galleries, weaknesses in the evening-economy, the lack of wi-fi availability, the
few medium-sized music venues and the lack of a gallery for Birmingham‟s
photographic archive.



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    Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study




                                                          Table 4a: Gaps and Weaknesses
                                            (Identified by CR Quality of Life Group – Local Authorities)
                                                                                                              Heritage and Green       Infrastructure and
               Arts                      Sport                  Marketing            Events & Festivals
                                                                                                                      Spaces                  other
1     Need for                  Need for major            Lack of coherent          Events                    The quality of parks   Transport links into
      contemporary art          aquatic sports centre     regional cultural                                   and open spaces +      and throughout the
      gallery                                             identity projected–                                 staff presence         region
                                                          also at a city-regional                             required
                                                          level
2     Lack of a city-regional   Broader spectrum of       Marketing co-             Signature event           Greenspace             Telford is in need of
      independent cinema        regionally and            ordination around         required to raise the     excellence needs to    general cultural
                                nationally important      existing offer is         profile of the city-      be improved, e.g       investment as the
                                sporting opportunities    needed                    region, e.g. A rival to   award winning parks    western gateway to
                                is required – including                             Great North Run                                  the region.
                                water-based activities
                                and triathlon.
3                               General sports gaps       Marketing linked to       There is a lack of        Funding for the        Evening economy
                                                          international visitors    space for large scale     Black Country Urban    improvements
                                                                                    events, especially in     Park                   required beyond
                                                                                    the west of the region                           Birmingham
                                                                                    (e.g. Black Country).
4                               Sports facilities         Under-investment in                                                        Need to maximise
                                                          marketing                                                                  cohesion and
                                                                                                                                     recognise potential
                                                                                                                                     opportunities of the
                                                                                                                                     cultural city-regional
                                                                                                                                     offer - joined up
                                                                                                                                     working is key
5                                                         A coherent picture                                                         Lack of linkages
                                                          and message for                                                            between partners and
                                                          residents and visitors                                                     over-reliance on
                                                          about city-region                                                          Birmingham
                                                          cultural offer is
                                                          required.
6                                                         „Disjointed offer‟                                                         Joint priorities need to
                                                          across the city-region                                                     be identified across
                                                                                                                                     the region through


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    Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study



                                                                                                                                 partnership working
                                                                                                                                 with all cultural assets
7                                                        Table 4b: Gaps
                                                     Poor perceptions of and Weaknesses
                                           (Identified by CR Quality of Life Group – Regional Bodies)
                                                     quality of life in the
                                                        city-region                  Heritage
10       Arts            Sport                                      Festivals
                                            Marketing Poor perceptions -           and Green        Infrastructure                  Other
                                                        need for improved            Spaces
1    Medium-       Long-term           Branding of the city-region marketing
                                                         city Festivals and       Interactive     Transport to          Evening economy – access to
     sized music   operating           region is not joined events could be
                                                        + lack of city-regional   museums         cultural facilities   cultural facilities
     venues        contract for        up and consistent        improved
                                                        visitor economy and       and galleries   such as Stratford
                   Lilleshall sports                    strategyinvested in       (digital)
                   centre                                       properly to




                                                                                                                                                   59
    Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study



                                                                  ensure they are
                                                                  of suitable
                                                                  quality.
2   No gallery for   A 50m                Poor                    International     Distinctive      Iconic Transport        Independent bars and retail +
    Birmingham       swimming pool        branding/marketing      festivals         city centre      Hubs needed             commercial craft shops/galleries
    photographic     that meets           of current assets                         built
    archive          national                                                       environments
                     competition                                                    (outside
                     standards.                                                     B‟ham)
3                    Sufficient           City-region has a                         Need for         The transport           Birmingham and its council needs
                     numbers of           confusing identity                        cultural         infrastructure to       to take a much stronger lead in
                     weather proof        and does not come                         infrastructure   support culture is      developing and promoting culture.
                     and multi use        across to outsiders                       which could      patchy and
                     sports facilities.   as a vibrant cultural                     be delivered     unreliable
                                          area.                                     by the Black
                                                                                    Country
                                                                                    Urban Park
4                                                                                                    Availability of wi-fi   The cultural sector needs to
                                                                                                     in cities               engage more effectively with
                                                                                                                             housing, transport and planning
                                                                                                                             agencies
5                                                                                                                            Children should be more involved
                                                                                                                             in decision making + more should
                                                                                                                             be done to encourage children to
                                                                                                                             take part in risky and more
                                                                                                                             challenging leisure, recreational
                                                                                                                             and play opportunities




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


5.5     FUTURE GAPS

“Where do you anticipate future gaps in provision will become apparent? (e.g. in light of
demographic or structural change)”



A wide range of future gaps were listed by respondents with regards to the
challenges presented by structural and demographic change which will affect the
city-region.

Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry and Telford are all designated as growth points
for housing in the city-region, and changing age and ethnicity demographics were
specifically mentioned in five of the six local authority responses to the question.
Responses from Sandwell and Birmingham indicated that their local authorities
are well aware of the need to cater for BME communities and young people.
Sandwell‟s response elaborated on the importance of adjusting offer to keep it
relevant to the changing demography, and a similar sentiment was echoed in
Birmingham‟s cultural strategy and questionnaire response, the latter of which
emphasises awareness, access and relevance of cultural services. Arts Council
England also predicted a future gap in catering for older people across the city
region.

Catering for BME communities is also an issue for Wolverhampton, though it also
needs to cater for a growing number of older people, along with Solihull and
Sandwell. In terms of specific provision, both Coventry and Dudley mention the
need for new sports facilities.

Coventry also lists support for creative industries as a future gap, along with park
provision. Telford stresses the need for improved transport infrastructure to cope
with its changing demographics, and infrastructure is also alluded in the response
from MLA.




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    Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study




                                                                  Table 5: Future Gaps
                          (Identified by CR Quality of Life Group – Local Authorities and Regional Bodies)

              Sport             Demographic Change                            Diversity                     Infrastructure                      Other
1    General need for    There is a need to cater for an ageing    Provision needs to be             Transport infrastructure       Branding of the city-region
     sports facilities   population across the city-region         democratic in accordance to       supporting culture is patchy   is inconsistent and not
     (Coventry)          (ACE)                                     increasingly diverse              and unreliable (MLA)           joined up (MLA)
                                                                   demographics (ACE)
2    General Sport       Need to ensure that young people are      Efforts needed to ensure BME      Need for increased             Birmingham and its council
     provision gaps      catered for as their demographic          focussed demand is catered for    infrastructure to cope with    need to take a stronger lead
     (Dudley)            increases (Birmingham)                    (Birmingham)                      increasing population size     in promoting culture.
                                                                                                     (Telford)                      (MLA)
3                        Growing population of both younger        Multicultural diversity of the    Need to understand how         Festival and Events need
                         and older people (Sandwell)               city region and inward            technology impacts upon how    improvement and
                                                                   migration from Africa, the        people expect to access        investment (MLA)
                                                                   Middle East and Eastern           information. (Wolverhampton)
                                                                   Europe presents new cultural
                                                                   demands (Sandwell)
4                        Cultural provision needed for a larger    Migration is a significant                                       General park provision gaps
                         and older population (Solihull)           factor to be taken into account                                  (Coventry)
                                                                   when planning for cultural
                                                                   provision (Wolverhampton)
5                        Cultural infrastructure required                                                                           Gap in supporting of
                         generally for growing population                                                                           creative industries
                         (Telford)                                                                                                  (Coventry)
6                        Cultural focus may move from young
                         to older people as a result of
                         demographic change (Walsall)




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study



5.6     PLANS FOR FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

“What plans do you have for the future development of culture in your area which could be of city-
regional significance, e.g. new/enhanced/consolidated facilities; change to service delivery,
events and programmes?”

Responses by local authorities are summarised in Table 6.
Responses by regional bodies are summarised in Table 6b.

Local authority respondents primarily identified the Arts and
heritage/Greenspaces as areas where cultural investment and planning
was being focussed. Apart from the Public in Sandwell, the other seven
arts facilities listed as being major future developments/redevelopments
were all within the cities of the city-region; four in Birmingham, two in
Coventry and one in Wolverhampton. The plans for Birmingham and
Coventry both include improvements to art gallery provision and theatre
venues.

Major Heritage and Greenspace plans listed by local authorities are spread
more widely across the city-region; in every local authority with the
exceptions of Solihull and Coventry.

Plans are also underway for cultural improvements to some of the city-
region‟s town centres. Birmingham, Dudley, Telford and West Bromwich (in
Sandwell) are all mentioned specifically. For Dudley, Telford and West
Bromwich the focus is on general improvement f town centre spaces and
cultural offer. Birmingham‟s plans include the Eastside urban park and an
aim to transmit the benefits of existing city-centre provision to a wider
audience.

Economic developments were cited four times, in Birmingham, Coventry
and Solihull to the east of the city-region. Sport and Festivals each
received three references in the responses with proposals for a 50m pool
being drawn up in Birmingham and options being explored for a new
leisure centre in Sandwell. For Festivals and Events, Birmingham made
reference to the digital and media event and Telford to the Street Arts
Festival planned for the town. Telford and Birmingham also made
reference to the opportunities that may be presented by the Cultural
Olympiad.

The regional bodies‟ responses indicated plans were underway to improve
the festival and events provision of the city-region. This included the
development of the International Dance Festival and the development of


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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


festivals in the Black Country and in Coventry. AWM also state their
intention to construct a programme of events to support the Cultural
Olympiad and develop events for the Regionally Significant Anniversaries
Programme.

Marketing of the city-region was highlighted earlier in the questionnaire as
being a weakness of the city-region, in particular by local authorities. AWM
intends to invest in marketing activity that uses culture as one focus for
international leisure marketing, as well as proposing to support the RSC
and Birmingham Royal Ballet as touring companies.

Sport England has plans for a new swimming pool in Rugeley as well as
2012 training camps. MLA has plans to improve the museum and galleries
sector using Renaissance funding.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study




                                             Table 6: Plans For Future Cultural Development
                                   (Identified by city-region Quality of Life Group – Local Authorities)
                                                                             Town and City Centre                             Heritage and Green
            Arts                    Sport                  Economic                                        Festivals
                                                                                  developments                                      Spaces
1   Redevelopment of        Proposals for 50m         „Large‟ casino to be   Establishment of         Digital and Media      New Birmingham
    Midlands Arts Centre    pool in Birmingham in     developed at the NEC   Dudley Town Centre       Event in 2008          Central Library, with
                            partnership with UoB                             as centre for cultural   (Birmingham)           remodelled REP
                                                                             tourism                                         theatre space
2   Masterplan for a        Options being             Redevelopment and      Telford Town Centre      Street Arts Festival   Library modernisation
    redevelopment of        explored for a new        relocation of          regeneration, inc. new   (Telford)              plans (Walsall)
    Birmingham museum       leisure centre in         Birmingham market      Learning and Media
    and art gallery         Sandwell to cater for     site                   Centre, Leisure Ice
                            a regional audience                              destination and
                                                                             enhanced Town Park
3   Proposals for a         Telford Sports,                                  Planned cultural         2012 and Cultural      Dudley/Sandwell:
    museum of               Learning and                                     provision to support     Olympiad Plans         Joint archive provision
    contemporary art        Enterprise                                       development of West      (Telford, B‟ham,       at Black Country
    (Birmingham)            Community – a                                    Bromwich town centre     Solihull)              Living Museum
                            regional sporting hub
4   New Herbert Art         Sports facility planned                          Walsall – Heritage and                          Aston Hall and Park
    Gallery                 for Walsall Town                                 archives centre                                 development and
                            Centre                                           planned for the town                            refurbishment
                                                                             centre, with a new
                                                                             library and links to a
                                                                             new sports facility
5   The Public – opening    General leisure                                  Major urban park in                             Telford Musueum
    in 2008                 improvements                                     Eastside                                        project
                            planned in Walsall
6   Contnue to develop                                                                                                       Oak House Barns and
    Art Gallery and Civic                                                                                                    Gardens development
    halls                                                                                                                    (Sandwell)
    (Wolverhampton)
7   Investment in Forrest                                                                                                    Melting Pot Project –
    Arts Centre                                                                                                              amalgamation of
                                                                                                                             Dudley Glass
                                                                                                                             Museum and Red




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study



                                                                                                                              House Cone
8    Performance Centre                                                                                                       Sandwell Valley and
     planned for                                                                                                              Dartmouth Park
     Wolverhampton                                                                                                            developments
     University‟s Walsall
     Campus
9                                                                                                                             Development of green
                                                                                                                              spaces and canals
                                                                                                                              (W‟ton)
10                                                                                                                            People‟s Millions
                                                                                                                              project:
                                                                                                                              Wren‟s nest
11                                                                                                                            Wrekin Forest
                                                                                                                              Partnership – Visitor
                                                                                                                              centre and Wrekin Hill
                                                                                                                              enhancement scheme
Cross-domain: Telford has plans which will improve cultural provision through the Building Schools For The Future programme




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study




                                     Table 6b: Plans For Future Cultural Development
                               (Identified by city-region Quality of Life group - Regional Bodies)
                                                                                    Heritage and
Sport       Economic          Festivals                Marketing                                                Arts                  Play
                                                                                    Green Spaces
New         To support        Development of           to invest in marketing       Use of                Increased           Creating a regional
Rugeley     World Class       Festivals and Events     activity that uses culture   Renaissance           participation and   play forum
Swimming    Stratford to      in Black Country and     as one focus for             funding to improve    audience            comprising of
Pool        ensure it         Coventry (ACE)           international leisure        the museum and        development         regional and local
(Sport      achieves its                               marketing and some           gallery sector        (ACE)               stakeholders from
England)    tourism                                    domestic segments            (MLA)                                     the public and third
            potential (AWM)                            (AWM)                                                                  sector.
                                                                                                                              (Play England)

2012                          Birmingham               To support through           Improvement of        Visual art and
Training                      International Dance      marketing activity the       exhibition product,   digital
Camps                         Festival (ACE)           Royal Shakespeare            investment in         developments
(Sport                                                 Company and the              workforce and         (ACE)
England)                                               Birmingham Royal             targeting non-
                                                       Ballet as UK leaders in      users
                                                       touring companies            (MLA)
                                                       (AWM)
                              To support the
                              development and
                              marketing of the
                              2009 Regionally
                              Significant
                              Anniversaries
                              Programme (AWM)
                              To establish a strong
                              programme of events
                              and activities as part
                              of the Cultural
                              Olympiad
                              (AWM)




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


5.7     CULTURAL PRIORITIES


“What do you consider to be the investment priorities for improving the cultural offer of the City
Region?
       6a. Top two priorities for new/enhanced cultural infrastructure?
       6b. Top two priorities for new/improved cultural services?”



The question about investment priorities is in two parts; two infrastructure
priorities and two service priorities were asked of each respondent.

In terms of infrastructure, transport was picked out as a priority in four responses,
three of which came from regional bodies. ACE believes that transport
improvements will improve access communities have to cultural venues, and the
WMLGA stressed the importance of investment in transport hubs. Solihull‟s
response emphasised the need to secure national and governmental funding for
key infrastructure projects.

Greenspace and heritage improvement was bought up in five of the responses,
two of which specifically listed the Black Country Urban Park project as their first
infrastructure priority (Walsall MBC and Dudley MBC). Wolverhampton also
mentioned improvement of the canal network in general whilst Coventry
expressed the need for more „green‟ infrastructure.

Sport was mentioned four times, in three of the responses; all of them by local
authorities. Both Sandwell‟s infrastructure priorities were sports related, and they
included the need for improved water-based activities. Similarly, Dudley
prioritised the need for a 50m swimming pool, whilst elsewhere in the
questionnaire Birmingham CC stated that it was looking at the potential for a 50m
pool in Birmingham in partnership with the University of Birmingham.

In terms of services, marketing of cultural assets was stated as a priority in six of
the responses by local authorities and regional bodies. Dudley and Birmingham
listed marketing of vents as service priorities; MLA suggested that coherent and
consistent tourism branding was a priority.

Events on a generally were listed as a priority in four of the responses, with a
new events arena in the Black Country being prioritised by Wolverhampton,
events funding being a priority for Coventry CC and events marketing prioritised
by Dudley and Birmingham.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


                                                        Table 7: Infrastructure and Service Priorities
                                                          (Local Authorities and Regional Bodies)
                                                                                                                  Services Priority                      Services Priority
                         Infrastructure Priority 1                Infrastructure Priority 2
                                                                                                                         1                                      2
                                                                                                                                                  Develop a coherent approach to
                                                               Find new ways of connecting city           Develop existing and new cultural
                       Improve local cultural infrastructure                                                                                      management and marketing of
  Birmingham CC                                                centre assets with local                   services to extend their appeal to
                       in neighbourhoods                                                                                                          festivals and events across the
                                                               neighbourhoods                             BME groups and young people
                                                                                                                                                  region
                       Finance required to replace sports                                                 Subsidy for buildings used by
    Coventry CC                                                Green infrastructure investment                                                    Events funding
                       buildings                                                                          creative industries
                                                                                                          Regional events and Marketing Co-       Cross-border working on policy (e.g.
    Dudley MBC         Black Country Urban Park                A 50 metre Swimming Pool
                                                                                                          ordination                              leisure cards, fees, charges)
                       Provision of improved water-based       Triathlon facilities to attract regional   Improved information about cultural     More outreach and engagement by
   Sandwell MBC
                       activities                              and national competition                   opportunities at City Regional level    existing cultural institutions
                       Transport connectivity between
                                                                                                          Tackling perception barriers
                       areas and securing national and         Supporting further development of
   Solihull MBC                                                                                           regarding quality of life in the city
                       government investment in key            the NEC
                                                                                                          region
                       infrastructure projects
                                                                                                                                                  Support to strengthen cultural offer
                       Improving heritage and green space      Improving evening economy                  Greater joined up marketing and
 Telford and Wrekin                                                                                                                               around the region in gateway
                       provision                               provision                                  promotion
                                                                                                                                                  locations
                                                                                                          Cross boundary working with
                       Black Country Urban Park (HLF bid       Culture centre (Library, museum,           adjoining boroughs (eg Joint leisure    Improving physical activity in the
    Walsall MBC
                       for Walsall Arboretum                   archive, pool) on waterside                trust; BCAP, International Art Fund –   Black Country
                                                                                                          with Birmingham)
                                                                                                          Develop joint working e.g. in the
Wolverhampton CC       Events Arena in the Black Country       Improvement of the canal network
                                                                                                          Black Country with hub museums.
                       Transport – possible MAA to             Out of use workspaces to be made
                                                                                                                                                  Gallery Space for photographic
Arts Council England   improve links for communities to        available for artist work/exhibition       Master-planning for the city-region
                                                                                                                                                  archive
                       cultural venues                         space
                                                                                                          Cultural Olympiad/ regional cultural
                                                                                                                                                  2009 regionally significant
  Advantage West                                                                                          programme provides a key
                                                                                                                                                  anniversaries programme
     Midlands                                                                                             opportunity

                                                                                                          Coherent and comprehensive
                       Recognition of the value and
                                                               Improved transport and access              resourcing of management of the
                       importance of historic environment                                                                                         Coherent promotion and marketing
  English Heritage                                             provision to city-regions distinctive      Ironbridge World Heritage Site and
                       and good quality design in housing                                                                                         of cultural offer in the city region
                                                               places and cultural heritage assets.       its associated venues and
                       growth areas.
                                                                                                          attractions.
                                                                                                          Investment in improved product          Investment in up-skilling and
                       Improvement in transport                Coherent and consistent tourism
       MLA                                                                                                development across museums, arts        diversifying the workforce
                       infrastructure                          branding of city region
                                                                                                          and heritage
                       Mechanisms to involve C&YP in                                                      More free, local and inclusive fun      The West Midlands to gain city
   Play England
                       strategic governance and financial                                                 days out encouraging children,          regional significance by becoming




                                                                                                                                                                                       69
Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study



                  decisions affecting their lives and                                       young people and their families to     the most child-friendly region in
                  environment.                                                              engage in a wide range of cultural     England, in terms of it cultural offer.
                                                                                            opportunities.
                                                                                            Increase participation in sports and
                  Development of regional and sub-                                                                                 Increase skills and employment in
  Sport England                                         Contributing to an effective RSS.   physical activity by 196,000 people
                  regional facilities strategies                                                                                   sports.
                                                                                            by 2012.
                                                        Ensuring that the new housing       More incentives/initiatives to get
                  Huge investment into our key
     WMLGA                                              growth incorporates good quality    people engaged with cultural
                  transport hubs.
                                                        design and urban green-space.       activities




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study


5.8    ADDITIONAL COMMENTS
“Please add any additional comments about culture within the City Region”

Five respondents made additional comments. These have not been tabulated but
rather the full responses are given below.


Birmingham

There is no strong regional cultural identity. There are significant strengths to
various sub-brands within the region‟s cultural offer.

Cultural provision has historically been funded, provided and managed on a
single area basis. There are few if any successful examples of even sub-regional
collaboration in this arena. There is potentially a role here for organizations which
are not bound by their responsibilities to a single local authority area.

The above factors present challenges to a joint investment planning approach,
but challenges that should be recognized and responded to with enthusiasm.

There is underinvestment in marketing and promoting the region‟s cultural offer



Sandwell

The City Region is pretty well served in terms of its Cultural offer, much of which
is contained within the three Cities Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.
These Cities serve as magnets for Regional and National visitors, whilst also
meeting the needs of City Region residents. The high quality diverse range of
Cultural opportunities in the other parts of the City Region are less well known,
less well marketed and less well used.

In order to maximize the Cultural opportunity in the West Midlands, it is
necessary to build on the strengths of the three Cities, whilst also demonstrating
and maximizing the contribution of other areas.

The less significant Cultural facilities and services play a key role in supporting
the needs of local people and visitors and provide a vital critical mass to both
residents and visitors. This could be maximized, if a coherent approach was
taken to identifying, promoting and exploiting this plethora of Cultural
opportunities.

More potential for Regional Agencies (e.g. Orchestras, Theatre/dance
Companies) to work outside of City areas – for their funding to be more equitably
shared with wider range of users.



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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study




Solihull

Cultural facilities and creative industries can play a key role in regeneration at a
more local as well as at city region, and enhancing facilities and promoting
creative industries growth is an aspiration for regenerating North Solihull




ACE

Will the public understand/ embrace what the City Region is?

How can LAs meet the needs of their own cultural strategies and the City
Region‟s Cultural needs where the two don‟t compliment each other?



MLA

Other key issues are:
   1. Ensuring Birmingham takes a strong cultural lead in the future
   2. Ensuring that Culture is well represented in local authority LAAs across
      the city region.
   3. Ensuring that we have a bought into a Cultural investment pl




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study



5.9       SWOT ANALYSIS AND SUMMARY

                                             Table 7: SWOT assessment of Culture in the City Region

                                 STRENGTHS                                                                 WEAKNESSES
     Range and depth of arts venues and organisations- performing arts          Lack of coherent identity for the City Region and inadequate
      mainly based in Birmingham (+ the RSC), visual arts more evenly             branding, combined with fragmented and under-resourced
      spread with 8 quality art galleries in the Black Country, Birmingham        marketing
      and Coventry.                                                              Poor perceptions of the City Region
     Distinctive „craft based‟ creative industries clusters located around      Transport linkages throughout the City Region and to cultural
      the City Region, plus emerging strengths in digital creative                venues
      industries                                                                 General gaps in sports provision and specifically for a major aquatic
     Four premier parks                                                          venue
     Canal network                                                              Need for more high profile events and festivals
     Industrial and geological heritage in Dudley/wider Black Country           Quality of parks and open spaces needs to be improved and
     Natural environment in and about Telford                                    funding for the Black Country Urban Park secured
     7 museums, including Ironbridge World Heritage Site                        Partnership working is weak
     4 major shopping centres                                                   Over-reliance on Birmingham/lack of visibility for cultural assets
     Music in Birmingham and Wolverhampton                                       outside of the 3 cities.
     Range of high profile sporting venues, mainly located in                   4 specific arts venues required
      Birmingham and Wolverhampton and also including Lilleshall
      National Sports Centre
     Conference venues and business tourism + International Airport

                             OPPORTUNITIES                                                                    THREATS
     Redevelopment of 4 major art galleries, redevelopment of 2 arts            Providing appropriate cultural provision for an ageing population
      centres and plans for a new contemporary art gallery, new HE                across the city region. In Birmingham and Sandwell both younger
      performance centre and new space for the REP, as part of the                and older populations will grow
      Birmingham Central Library redevelopment.                                  Meeting the needs of a growing and more diverse population and
     Proposed 50m swimming pool in Birmingham, new swimming pool                 one with more sophisticated usage of technology
      in Rugeley and plans for new sports facilities in Sandwell, Telford        Inadequate transportation
      and Walsall                                                                Meeting gaps in sports provision
     New cultural provision planned to support the development of               Lack of leadership from Birmingham in promoting culture
      Dudley, Telford, West Bromwich and Walsall town centres.
     3 new festivals planned, 2 with international aspirations in
      Birmingham.




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study



   Opportunities for new/enhanced events and festivals through the
    2012 Cultural Olympiad and through 2009 Anniversaries
    programme
   Joint provision and consolidation of venues/services
   The Black Country Urban Park and its component parts
   Enhancements to 2/3 museums and access to the Wrekin
   „Large‟ Casino at the NEC




Questions arising from the City Region Questionnaire Analysis

    1. Many of the City Region‟s key cultural strengths are located in Birmingham, to a lesser extent Wolverhampton and
       Coventry, with the remainder unevenly spread across the rest of the City Region. The exceptions to this are
       industrial and geological heritage in Dudley and the wider Black Country; high quality natural environment, beyond
       parks, located exclusively in Telford; the importance of the airport and surrounding infrastructure in Solihull, which
       is central to the City-Region‟s visitor economy.

       The SWOT analysis would appear to show further consolidation of cultural assets in Birmingham, with the majority
       of high profile new venues and events planned here.

       To what extent is this to be welcomed? Should the City Region be focussed on building up Birmingham‟s asset
       base and profile, on ensuring good quality provision across the area, or a combination of the two?

    2. The City Region has existing strengths in Arts and distinctive clusters of creative industries, business tourism and
       museums. Weaknesses of cultural facilities would appear to be in local cultural provision, particularly sports, and in
       the overall quality of parks and festivals/events.

       What would be most beneficial to the future economic, social and environmental growth of the City Region- building
       on and promoting strengths or tackling weak provision? Can a new City region identity be developed by doing
       both?




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Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City-Region Quality of Life Scoping Study



      Should the City Region focus on improving cultural infrastructure/services to develop „cross-border‟ participation
      amongst its citizens (thus improving quality of life, awareness and local pride in the City Region). Alternatively, is
      there more „added value‟ from developing infrastructure/services that will attract visitors and investors (thus
      improving external perceptions of the City Region). Are there enhanced/new cultural assets which could attract
      both markets?

   3. There may be potential strength in greenspace- through existing quality parks in most parts of the City Region, the
      Black Country Urban Park, the canal network and the natural environment around Telford.

      Can this be built upon? How could this involve the east of the City Region?

   4. Marketing of the City Region and its cultural offer is a clear weakness, highlighted by both local authorities and
      regional bodies.

      Should improved marketing/branding activity be focussed externally on changing perceptions of the area, or
      internally on increasing cultural participation, awareness and pride?

   5. The City Region would appear to have a substantial asset base of nationally/internationally recognisable cultural
      venues and organisations (in Arts, Sports, Museums and Heritage).

      What is/could be distinctive about this asset base that can make the City Region stand out in an increasingly
      competitive national/international stage?

   6. Internationally, many successful City Regions project a quality of life offer which mixes city based cultural
      opportunities with natural and recreational assets available in their wider regions.

      How can the City Region better articulate its relationship to the cultural strengths available in the hinterland? Are
      these strengths sufficiently distinctive/realistically proximate to include within a quality of life offer?




                                                                                                                               75
CHAPTER 6

Cultural Assets in the West Midlands: a Baseline

Contents


  6.1 Introduction


  6.2 City Regionally Significant Assets




                                                   76
6.1    INTRODUCTION

In November 2007 the West Midlands Regional Assembly (WMRA)
commissioned BOP Consulting to undertake a „mapping and gapping‟ study of
cultural assets in the West Midlands. This research will inform a revision of the
Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS). It has also been disaggregated to identify a
baseline of cultural assets within the BCBC City region. These assets have been
classified as either of international, national, regional or City Regional
significance. Assets of local significance only have not been included. The QLSG
assisted the development of the City region baseline, providing qualitative
judgements to balance the more quantitative approach undertaken by BOP.




6.2    CITY REGIONALLY SIGNIFICANT ASSETS IN THE BCBC CITY
       REGION

                                                          Overal   Domai
Name of asset                       Town                  l rank   n
7 inch Cinema                       Birmingham            Other    Arts
BBC Big Screen                      Birmingham            Other    Arts
Black Country Touring               Oldbury               Other    Arts
Friction Arts                       Birmingham            Other    Arts
Geese Theatre Company               Birmingham            Other    Arts
Imagineer Productions Ltd.          Puma Way              Other    Arts
Punch                               Gibb Street           Other    Arts
Ruskin Glass Centre                 West Midlands         Other    Arts
Star City Cinema                    Birmingham            Other    Arts
Women and Theatre (Birmingham)
Ltd                                 Birmingham            Other    Arts
                                                                   Conference
Bethel Convention Centre            West Bromwich         Other    venues
                                                                   Conference
Dudley Concert Hall                 Dudley                Other    venues
                                                                   Conference
Telford International Centre        Telford               Other    venues
                                                                   Festivals and
Birmingham Book Festival            Birmingham            Other    Events
                                                                   Festivals and
Birmingham International Carnival   Handsworth            Other    Events
                                                                   Festivals and
Birmingham Pride                    Birmingham            Other    Events
                                                                   Festivals and
Brilliantly Birmingham              Birmingham            Other    Events
                                                                   Festivals and
Coventry Festival of Motoring       Coventry              Other    Events
                                                                   Festivals and
Coventry Jazz Festival              Coventry              Other    Events
Eid Mela                            Birmingham            Other    Festivals and



                                                                                   77
                                                                 Events
                                                                 Festivals and
Film and Television Festival            Birmingham       Other   Events
                                                                 Festivals and
Flatpack Film Festival                  Birmingham       Other   Events
                                        Birmingham and           Festivals and
Flip Animation Festival                 Wolverhampton    Other   Events
                                                                 Festivals and
Frankfurt Christmas Market              Birmingham       Other   Events
                                                                 Festivals and
Gigbeth                                 Birmingham       Other   Events
                                                                 Festivals and
Party in the Park                       Birmingham       Other   Events
                                                                 Festivals and
Readers and Writers Festival            Birmingham       Other   Events
                                                                 Festivals and
Rhubarb Rhubarb                         Birmingham       Other   Events
                                                                 Festivals and
St Patrick‟s Day Festival               Birmingham       Other   Events
Stourbridge International Festival of                            Festivals and
Glass                                   Stourbridge      Other   Events
                                                                 Festivals and
Supersonic                              Birmingham       Other   Events
                                                                 Festivals and
Taste of Birmingham                     Birmingham       Other   Events
                                                                 Festivals and
The Birmingham Comedy Festival          Birmingham       Other   Events
                                                                 Festivals and
Vaisakhi Birmingham                     Birmingham       Other   Events
                                                                 Leisure and
Baggeridge Country Park                 Dudley           Other   Tourism
                                                                 Leisure and
Bantock House                           Wolverhampton    Other   Tourism
                                                                 Leisure and
Birmingham Railway Museum               Birmingham       Other   Tourism
                                                                 Leisure and
Brandon Marsh Nature Centre             Coventry         Other   Tourism
                                                                 Leisure and
Coventry Transport Museum               Coventry         Other   Tourism
                                                                 Leisure and
Dudley Canal Trust Trips                Dudley           Other   Tourism
                                                                 Leisure and
Dudley Zoo                              Dudley           Other   Tourism
                                                                 Leisure and
Herbert Art Gallery and Museum          Coventry         Other   Tourism
                                                                 Leisure and
Kings Heath Park                        Birmingham       Other   Tourism
                                                                 Leisure and
Lickey Hills Country Park               Birmingham       Other   Tourism
                                                                 Leisure and
Museum of the Jewellery Quarter         Birmingham       Other   Tourism
                                                                 Leisure and
National Sea Life Centre                Birmingham       Other   Tourism
                                                                 Leisure and
Ryton Organic Gardens                   Coventry         Other   Tourism
Sandwell Valley Country Park            West Bromwich    Other   Leisure and


                                                                                 78
                                                                Tourism
                                                                Leisure and
Sarehole Mill Museum               Birmingham           Other   Tourism
                                                                Leisure and
Soho House Museum                  Birmingham           Other   Tourism
                                                                Leisure and
St Chads Cathedral                 Birmingham           Other   Tourism
                                                                Leisure and
St Philip's Cathedral              Birmingham           Other   Tourism
                                                                Leisure and
Sutton Park                        Birmingham           Other   Tourism
                                                                Leisure and
Telford Steam Railway              Telford And Wrekin   Other   Tourism
                                                                Leisure and
Telford Town Park                  Telford              Other   Tourism
                                                                Leisure and
Wallsall Arboretum                 Walsall              Other   Tourism
                                                                Leisure and
Walsall Leather Museum             Walsall              Other   Tourism
                                                                Leisure and
Woodgate Valley Country Park       Birmingham           Other   Tourism
                                                                Libraries and
Dudley Public Library              Dudley               Other   Archives
                                                                Libraries and
Earlsdon Community Library         Coventry             Other   Archives
                                                                Libraries and
Halesowen Public Library           Halesowen            Other   Archives
                                                                Libraries and
Sandwell Central Library           West Bromwich        Other   Archives
                                                                Libraries and
Stourbridge Public Library         Stourbridge          Other   Archives
Aldersley Leisure Village          Wolverhampton        Other   Sport
Banks's (Bescot) Stadium           Walsall              Other   Sport
Billesley Indoor Tennis Centre     Birmingham           Other   Sport
Birmingham & Solihull RFC                               Other   Sport
Birmingham Sports Centre           Birmingham           Other   Sport
Birmingham Wheels Raceway
(Adventure Park)                   Birmingham           Other   Sport
Coventry 50m swimming pool         Coventry             Other   Sport
Monmore Green Stadium (Ladbroke
Stadium)                           Wolverhampton        Other   Sport
Moseley Rugby Club                 Birmingham           Other   Sport
National Indoor Shooting Centre    Wolverhampton        Other   Sport
Nechells Community Sports Centre   Birmingham           Other   Sport
Perry Barr Stadium                 Birmingham           Other   Sport
Solihull Ice Rink                  Solihull             Other   Sport
Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis and
Squash Club                        Wolverhampton        Other   Sport
Wolverhampton Racecourse           Wolverhampton        Other   Sport




                                                                                79
CHAPTER 7

Perceptions of the City Region

Contents


  7.1 Introduction and Aims

  7.2 Methodology

  7.3 Findings

           7.3.1 Birmingham

           7.3.2 Coventry

           7.3.3 Wolverhampton

           7.3.4 Walsall

           7.3.5 Telford and Wrekin

           7.3.6 Dudley and Sandwell: The Black Country

           7.3.7 Solihull

  7.4 Wider Perceptions Of The West Midlands

  7.5 Business and Culture

  7.6 Tourism and Branding Strategy

  7.7 Summary




                                                          80
7.1    INTRODUCTION AND AIMS

In the preceding work there has been recognition of the importance of culture‟s
role in the image of place as well as an understanding of how culture can be both
used and enhanced in the promotion of places.

The various constituent parts of the city-region are already promoted by a
number of public administrative bodies, sometimes as standalone cities,
sometimes as part of a wider county area or as sub-regions as is the case, for
example, of the Black Country. These spatial entities are also the subject of
public opinion and perception.

The aim of this chapter is two-fold. Firstly, it aims to gauge how constituent areas
of the city-region are already promoted and under what spatial level or context
that promotion takes. Secondly it seeks to compare this with external perceptions
of those areas as available on major online websites.

7.2    METHODOLOGY

The methodology was to use the internet as a source of information, searching
each local authority area as well as the „Black Country‟ to find out how these
places might be perceived by outsiders and promoted by local authorities and
tourism boards. The Wikipedia pages, Lonely Planet Guides, Wikitravel pages
and Tourism websites of particular geographical areas were used for this
exercise. The methodology has its limitations; trying to find opinions of places
„democratically‟ would be a very difficult and time-consuming project, so major
WebPages were used to garner views of opinion-forming blogs and websites that
others interested in the region may themselves look to for information. In
addition, two reports by BMG research about the perceptions of the West
Midlands amongst residents (2004) and a study of business in the region (2007),
add additional useful data.

It should be noted that much more information (and stronger views) are available
on the major cities of the city-region compared with areas such as Solihull,
Sandwell and Walsall. The methodology also makes it very difficult to gauge in
any direct fashion, how the areas may be perceived by potential residents rather
than visitors.

It is also acknowledged that perceptions of place of both current residents and
potential visitors often depend on the depiction of those places in the mainstream
television and news media. Information from these sources are not available in
this piece of work, since the scope and resources are not available for the kind of
in-depth media analysis that would add value to this project.




                                                                                  81
Nonetheless it is hoped that the findings provide insight and can help provoke
further useful discussion which can contribute towards the development of a
joint-investment plan across the city-region.


7.3     FINDINGS

7.3.1 Birmingham

Birmingham on Wikipedia8 is described as being considered to be the UK‟s
second-city. Aside from factual information such as Birmingham being the largest
core-city, there is also mention of the reputation of Birmingham as being “forged
as a powerhouse of the industrial revolution”. The historic descriptions of
Birmingham as being the „workshop of the world‟ and „city of a thousand trades‟
is also mentioned.

Wikipedia however recognises that Birmingham‟s industrial importance has fallen
and describes the contemporary city as a commercial centre, citing its ranking by
Cushman and Wakefield as the 21st best place to locate a business in Europe
and the third best in the UK. There is a mention of the hosting of the G8 summit
in 1998 and an acknowledgement of the city‟s success in attracting conventions
more generally. Wikitravel‟s guide9 exclaims, “since the 1990s, Birmingham has
been undergoing a radical change and many of the post war buildings have been
replaced. The majority of the city centre is now pedestrianised, and the canals
cleaned up to make for attractive walkways. All credit to the City Council, as the
city retains its industrial heritage whilst now appearing modern and forward
looking.”

On the Lonely Planet guide10 the city is promoted again by its size, its industrial
legacy, canals, curry houses and Crufts; this, according to Lonely Planet gives
the city something to be proud of despite Birmingham‟s being “aesthetically
challenged”. The Lonely Planet guides give an insight into what might be
appealing to tourists, perhaps those with a significant disposable income. The
canals, according to the guide, show a quiet side of the city which allows one to
escape the “buzzing noise and concrete flyovers that spoil many parts for the
city.” The canals also serve, we are told, a way to get behind the “70s eyesores”
to see the “glorious” red brick warehouses. It seems perhaps that for some
writers and travellers there is a desire to see industrial history, so long as it‟s the
right, aesthetically pleasing type of industrial history. A particular challenge of
future cultural and tourism policy may be to turn industrial heritage into an
attractive product for visitors.



8
  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birmingham - last accessed 03/03/08
9
  http://wikitravel.org/en/Birmingham_%28England%29 – last accessed 03/03/08
10
   http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/england/birmingham/ - last accessed 03/03/08


                                                                                         82
In terms of cultural activities, BMAG, Chamberlain Square, Victoria Square and
St. Phillips Cathedral are promoted as places to visit on the Lonely Planet guide.
Following that there seems to be an emphasis on the allure of the Bull Ring and
Selfridges. The writer speaks of watching a show at the Symphony Hall in the
evening and coming out to a vast range of choices in terms of nightlife.

The Visit Birmingham11 webpage aims to promote the city to potential tourists.
The attractions it lists seem to correlate with what are seen as Birmingham‟s
strengths in the travel guides. Food, drink, shopping and fashion take centre
stage on the homepage. There is no mention however, of the Balti triangle. There
is also a prominent link from which conference-hosting facilities in the city can be
viewed.


7.3.2 Coventry

On Wikipedia Coventry12 is described as the ninth largest city in the UK, which is
not a core-city due its proximity to Birmingham. It is noted for being the world‟s
first twin city when it was twinned with Stalingrad during World War II. Coventry
Cathedral is described as being notable for its distinction as one of the most
modern cathedrals in the world. Coventry‟s reputation as a city of peace and
reconciliation is also noted.

The motoring industry in Coventry is also mentioned in the introductory
paragraph to the city as well as the city‟s two universities. Additional mentions go
to the exploits of Lady Godiva and Coventry City Football Club.

On various travel related websites13, 14, the bombing of Coventry during the war
as well as „questionable‟ post-war building developments are cited, however with
the adage that current regeneration and cultural provision is helping to make the
city more attractive. The Wikitravel page notes the cathedral quarter and the Lunt
Roman Fort as key attractions, as well as two museums; the Transport Museum
and the Midland Air Museum (Baginton).

On „Visit Coventry and Warwickshire‟, the promotional website for the city and
wider sub-region15, Coventry is advertised together with Warwickshire as a
region diverse in physical make-up. Culture and heritage are emphasised,
including family days out, romantic walks and art trails. Coventry is also
described as being steeped in myth as well as the beautiful Warwickshire
countryside; museums, galleries, the cathedral, the medieval guildhall and
transport museum all specifically mentioned. Warwickshire is advertised as a

11
   http://www.beinbirmingham.com – last accessed 03/03/08
12
   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coventry - last accessed 03/03/08
13
   http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/england/coventry - last accessed 03/03/2008
14
   http://wikitravel.org/en/Coventry - last accessed 03/03/2008
15
   http://www.visitcoventryandwarwickshire.co.uk/ - last accessed 03/03/208


                                                                                        83
place to escape from the hustle of the city; idyllic, rural and complete with unique
market towns and rich heritage. It summarises the core offer as, “Two famous
castles, the glorious river Avon, and of course, Shakespeare‟s Stratford”.

On the webpage specific to Coventry, the Lady Godiva myth, the new IKEA, The
Belgrade Theatre, the retail development Greyfriar‟s Walk, the entertainment
complex (including Casino), the Old Fire Station and the Herbert form headline
items.


7.3.3 Wolverhampton

Wolverhampton is introduced by the Wikipedia page16 as being a part of
Staffordshire historically, and of being named after Lady Wulfruna who founded
the town in 985. The historic wool trade and the fact that Wolverhampton became
a major industrial centre during and after the industrial revolution is mentioned.
Engineering feats in the past (including the fact that Wolverhampton is the city to
make the first vehicle which surpassed the 200mph mark) are celebrated and it is
stated that engineering and the service sector are the major industries in
contemporary Wolverhampton.

The Lonely Planet guide17 talks about a city “once cloaked in dust and gloom”
which is now, “good for gigs, great estates and galleries galore.” A brighter place
which is still fascinating for those interested in the industrial past. Wikitravel‟s
Wolverhampton page18 however does mention that the city isn‟t well known as a
tourist attraction – but insists that gig-goers, students and sports fans might be
surprised at what the city can offer to visitors. In terms of shopping it talks about
the city being limited in comparison with centres such as the Bull Ring and Merry
Hill, both in other parts of the city-region. Its nightlife is also praised and credited
in part to the development of Wolverhampton University since it was given
University status in the early 1990s. The music scene is described as one which
is unrivalled even by many larger UK cities.

The „Wolverhampton City‟ website19 describes a place with a vibrant mix of
shopping, art theatre, sport and night life. With “culture and commerce” during
the day and “clubs, pubs, theatres and concert venues” at night, and many
sports-related venues, Wolverhampton is advertised as a diverse cultural city that
is conveniently between the historic Black Country and the beautiful countryside
of Shropshire and Staffordshire. Proximity to Birmingham is cited as an asset.




16
   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolverhampton - last accessed 03/03/2008
17
   http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/england/wolverhampton/ last accessed 03/03/2008
18
   http://wikitravel.org/en/Wolverhampton - last accessed 03/03/2008
19
   http://www.wolverhamptoncity.co.uk/content.php?c=5 - last accessed 03/03/2008


                                                                                            84
The focus of the promotion on the website could broadly be described as being
on the nightlife of Wolverhampton, indicating a degree of recognition that it is an
aspect of the city which is viewed as a strength by outsider sources.




7.3.4 Walsall

According to Wikipedia20 Walsall is „sometimes‟ considered to be part of the
Black Country. Walsall as a borough is very much recognised and written of in
Wikipedia as part of the West Midlands conurbation but it is not spoken of as a
tourist destination. Due to this it cannot be evaluated in the same way as the
three cities in the city-region.

The Wikipedia page takes a more factual approach at describing the town, rather
than one that assesses its cultural image; nonetheless it does mention the
Walsall Markets which have a history dating back to the beginning of the
nineteenth century. It also mentions that in 2001 Walsall was crowned the ugliest
town in Britain, and in a 2007 survey it was voted by residents to be the
unhappiest place in Britain. Given the amount of Greenspace and countryside
both in Walsall and on its outskirts, it is perhaps surprising that these assets are
not mentioned.

However, culturally the town is best known for the Arboretum and the Walsall
Illuminations. Since the construction of the new gallery, it is also developing a
reputation for Arts.

There is no Lonely Planet webpage and the Wikitravel guide21 promotes only the
Art Gallery and Football Club.


7.3.5 Telford and Wrekin

Although Telford and Wrekin is institutionally recognised to be part of the West
Midlands region, recognised more widely as a town in Shropshire. Key features
of Telford which are listed on the Wikipedia page22 include the northern part of
the Ironbridge gorge and the fact that Telford sells itself as the birthplace of the
industrial revolution.

Wikitravel‟s guide23 lists three major attractions of Telford as the Wrekin,
Ironbridge and the town of Wellington. Whilst the site lists many things to see in

20
   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walsall - last accessed 03/03/2008
21
   http://wikitravel.org/en/Walsall - last accessed 03/03/2008
22
   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telford_and_Wrekin - last accessed 03/03/2008
23
   http://wikitravel.org/en/Telford - last accessed 03/03/2008


                                                                                    85
Telford, it lists nothing to do there, and options for shopping and eating out seem
limited.

Shropshire Tourism‟s website24 is the top website when searching „visit Telford‟
and the image of Telford promoted is one of a great amount of history in its
industrial past, as well as natural beauty, epitomised by the “curious legendary
hill”, the Wrekin. Interestingly, despite Telford‟s earlier attempt at being given city
status, Telford and Wrekin is advertised as a largely rural attraction with
picturesque small towns the only mark of urbanisation.

It is also worth mentioning the Visit Ironbridge website25 which similarly promotes
an historical and idyllic landscape with museums and activities that capture the
past. Whilst there is information on activities that are available in the wider
Telford and Wrekin area, pictures are unavailable for the urban parts of the
region, instead again focussing on the natural environments.


7.3.6 Dudley and Sandwell: The Black Country

The local authorities of Dudley and Sandwell are arguably more committed to
promote their areas as part of the Black Country. This in turn has an impact on
the image of these two local authority areas.

The Wikipedia page for the Black Country26 describes the development during
the industrial revolution, from which the moniker of „Black Country‟ probably
originated. The dialect of the Black Country is mentioned as well as the assertion
that despite its proximity to Birmingham, the „vast majority‟ of the population
“refuse to claim membership of the city and are fiercely proud of their areas
identity as a separate region.”

The Black Country Tourism website (while not being as refined and attractive as
the website that promotes Telford and Ironbridge) gives a range of cultural
strengths to promote the area. Heritage comes in the form of canals, the glass
industry, the leather industry, the locks of Willenhall as well as Iron/Steel
production. Walsall and Wolverhampton have two prominent art galleries
between them, there are natural assets (most notably Wren‟s Nest) and sporting
tradition. Perhaps it could be said that the marketing of the Black Country isn‟t as
focussed as Telford and Wrekin‟s external projection (however accurate,
representative or otherwise that image or caricature may be).

Individually, Dudley Zoo and the Black Country Living museum are prominent in
searches for attractions to visit in Dudley.


24
   http://www.shropshiretourism.co.uk/telford/ - last accessed 03/03/2008
25
   http://www.visitironbridge.co.uk/ - last accessed 03/03/2008
26
   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Country - last accessed 03/03/2008


                                                                                    86
7.3.7 Solihull

Solihull‟s cultural assets are in effect those available in Birmingham, and the area
forms a key part of Birmingham‟s infrastructure as it houses the city‟s airport as
well as the National Exhibition Centre. Though the Wikipedia page does not
detail much in the way of perception or cultural amenities, and despite the fact
that there is no Lonely planet guide for the area, there is a Wikitravel page27
which describes Solihull as being regarded as the „posh part‟ of Birmingham,
“surrounded by leafy suburbs and expensive mansions.”

Land Rover Experience is also listed as an asset and the general impression
given by the webpage is that Solihull is a generally pleasant area. The hotel
infrastructure is also mentioned.



7.4        WIDER REGIONAL PERCEPTIONS OF THE WEST MIDLANDS

BMG Research carried out work on perceptions of the West Midlands of both
residents and those residing in the other English regions. The research had its
shortcomings; the number of samples from each of the region‟s constituent parts
were not relative to the population of those sub-regions. Nonetheless some of the
information provides a useful insight into how the region is perceived by residents
and outsiders.

(Note: References to „Birmingham‟ in the BMG reports include Solihull)


Geographic Recognition and Cohesion

In terms of recognising the West Midlands as a geographical entity, 57% of all
respondents included Birmingham in their list of „counties‟ that make up the
region. 48% picked out Staffordshire as a constituent part and 47%
acknowledged the inclusion of the Black Country. Warwickshire was cited by
39% and Shropshire was only thought of as part of the West Midlands by 26% of
respondents. This perhaps shows that with the exception of Telford and Wrekin,
the rest of the city-region and in particular the Birmingham local authority areas
are considered by many to be integral to the region as a whole.

It was also found that West Midlands‟ residents were divided about how the
region should be referred to, with about a third favouring „Heart of England‟ and
almost the same proportion preferring the „West Midlands‟. In the Black Country
however there was much more enthusiasm about the „West Midlands‟ description
than „Heart of England‟. By sub-region, the Black Country and Birmingham also
27
     http://wikitravel.org/en/Solihull - last accessed 03/03/2008


                                                                                 87
showed the greatest sense of belonging to the West Midlands. The Black
Country scored higher than any sub-region in the scoring for pride in the West
Midlands region (47%) compared with a region-wide average of 39%.


Reputation: Strengths and Weaknesses

Residents of the West Midlands cited shopping, countryside and rural
environments as strengths (unprompted). Following those, unprompted
responses also cited strengths in the region‟s parks, night life and urban or town-
centre environments. Residents regarded visitor attractions in the West Midlands
as strengths than residents in any region outside of London.

However, facilities for teenagers and for young children were pointed out as
weaknesses by 6% and 4% of interviewees respectively, in spontaneous
responses.

Other parts of the survey concluded that Birmingham was known for its creativity
(46%). After Worcestershire, Warwickshire was the area that all respondents
thought was changing the most, for the better (52%). Birmingham scored 47%
and the Black Country scored a comparably low 36%. Perhaps surprisingly,
Warwickshire (25%) and Birmingham (28%) scored the lowest from all the sub-
regions when respondents were asked whether or not each sub-region was the
home of leading international companies.

In terms of visiting the West Midlands, outsiders in the North West and East
Midlands were the most positive about recommending others to the West
Midlands, whereas those from the South-West, London and
Yorkshire/Humberside were least positive.


7.5     BUSINESS AND CULTURE

The Business credentials of the West Midlands were explored in another report
by BMG published in 2004. The following findings were relevant to the cultural
sector:

     After personal links and the central location of the West Midlands region,
      local heritage was listed as the most important reason for business to locate
      there.
     3% of employers described the region as diverse and praised the „nice
      countryside‟ without being prompted. The same number of respondents also
      listed visitor attractions as a reason as to why the region might be attractive
      to businesses.
     In terms of attractiveness of the region for business, 11% of those within the
      region in construction said diversity was important to their location; 13% of


                                                                                    88
    those in hotels and restaurants cited visitor attractions as important; 15% of
    those in the agricultural, fishing or hunting industry attributed importance to
    the countryside and rural environment.
   From employers who have heard, read about or seen the West Midlands, 8%
    of them had received the news in the context of the area‟s entertainment or
    tourist attractions. This was the joint-second-most frequent response along
    with crime in the region, and behind general regional news (18%).
   All employers were asked about the strengths of the region as covered in the
    national media, and unprompted, „local heritage and tradition‟ and „access to
    leisure and cultural facilities‟ were the joint fourth most common response,
    each with 7%. 2% of people cited visitor attractions. Comparatively, transport
    links with other cities(18%), a skilled workforce (11%) and central geographic
    location (28%)were more often cited.

Employers were also asked what level of provision was provided in their sub-
region, in terms of heritage and tradition, good quality of life for employees and
access to leisure and cultural facilities. Respondents were asked to score the
provisions from 1-10 (1-3= not provided, 4-7= average provision, 8-10= complete
provision). Figure 1 shows the average scores.



                Bham       Coventry                  Hereford
                                                                   Black
                 and         and          Shrop        and                       Staffs
                                                                  Country
               Solihull     Warks                     Worcs
Local
heritage
                 6.48         7.14         7.36         6.98         6.78         6.99
and
tradition
Good QoL
for              6.71         6.98         7.16         7.25         6.84         7.04
employees
Access to
leisure
and              6.90         6.79         6.87         6.65         6.77         6.77
cultural
facilities
      Figure 1: Mean level of provision by sub-region as scored by all respondents.
                              Source: BMG Research (2004)




As the table shows, Coventry and Warwickshire had relatively high scores for
local heritage and tradition, whilst Birmingham had a low score when compared
with the rest of the region (though it also had a low score for the importance level
which residents attached to that provision). The shires were also perceived to be



                                                                                         89
places with better quality of life, but Birmingham and Solihull received relatively
high scores for access to leisure and cultural facilities.

Overall, business would seem to view the cultural provision in the region as
satisfactory but not comprehensive.


7.6        TOURISM AND BRANDING STRATEGY FOR THE WEST MIDLANDS

Blue Sail (2007) were commissioned to develop this strategy in collaboration with
the new Visitor Economic Strategy to provide a focus for regional and sub-
regional visitor marketing and to add value to how the region is marketed to wider
industry, inward investment and media audiences.

The research suggested that the region and its constituent parts lacked a clear
appealing identity and in terms of the tourism market, was less than the sum of
its parts. It also suggested that „Heart of England‟ had more potential than other
regional names. In terms of business, Birmingham and the West Midlands were
found to be strong brands, able to compete nationally and internationally.
It stresses that the branding legacy of the region is one which sends out diverse
and sometimes conflicting messages which may prove to be counter-productive
in creating coherent brands for the region. However, there are some principles on
which branding might be carried out in future:

          Build the confidence and identity within the region
          Develop the awareness of the region and many of its destinations among
           potential visitors
          Exploit the competitive advantage the region has in business tourism
          Recognise that addressing each of these principles will benefit the others
          Recognise that the parts of the region are mutually dependent on each
           other and success will contribute to the whole as well as regional success
           contributing to the parts.

Five sets of audiences were highlighted as the doors through which perceptions
can be challenged and promoted:

      1.   Business – location, strength and innovation.
      2.   Media – to show the transformation of the region.
      3.   Visitors – to show how accessible, rich and varied the region is.
      4.   Students/Talent – to show how affordable, forward-looking the region is.
      5.   Residents – engendering a sense of pride and belief in communities.

According to the report, “recitations of lists of places and things will not meet the
region‟s aspirations.” The aim should instead be to identify attractions and
destinations to sit behind lead brands (Shakespeare, Wedgwood, Cadbury,



                                                                                      90
Ironbridge, The Cotswolds, the Peak District, NEC Group venues) with the goal
of creating a wider story that is told about the region where the medium allows.

According to the report, current place branding in leisure includes Heart of
England, the Shires and Shire Towns, Stratford Upon Avon, Ironbridge and
Birmingham (but not the Black Country). For business, Birmingham and the West
Midlands are the only significant brands in the region‟s portfolio.

The key product brands according to the report include Wedgwood, Cadburys,
Alton Towers, the RSC and Ironbridge. Venue Brands include the NEC group,
Telford International Centre, Ricoh Centre, many sports venues such as
Edgbaston, Villa Park and the Belfry and the National Agricultural Centre at
Stoneleigh. These are all chosen because, “they have the potential to be strong
brands (because) they fit with consumer trends.”

In terms of future Market Opportunities four areas were highlighted for the region:

      1.   Conference and Exhibitions
      2.   Culture
      3.   Food and Drink
      4.   Events and Festivals

In terms of Conferences, the „Conference Arc‟ of West Midlands conference
venues identified in the report is exclusive to the city-region, incorporating
primarily Telford, Birmingham and Coventry. Urban hotels, rural retreats and
more unusual venues form the „secondary‟ offer.

Culture is a key driver of overseas visits; there is an opportunity to maximise the
value of the iconic status of Shakespeare. Presenting the region as youthful and
vibrant may also help Birmingham attract more in the way of city-break visitors.
Aside from Birmingham, the Shire towns and Ironbridge are highlighted as key
places. Key markets should, according to the report, include, ABC1 couples and
friends from London and the South East, high-spending day-visitors and
international visitors from North America, Germany, Spain, Italy, India and China.

Food and Drink are strengths both in shire towns offering “authentic and
excellent English food” and in Birmingham, which has “top-quality fine dining and
ethnic food experience.” The Black Country is also noted for its real ale and
independent breweries. Events and Festivals are also a growth opportunity in
that they allow for new visitors to come to the region. The major indoor and
outdoor venues are all within the city-region.

7.7        SUMMARY

Preceding work on the Scoping Study has shown that perception and image are
weaknesses for the city-region; there is both a lack of coherence about what the



                                                                                   91
city-region is and some negative perceptions in existence about the city-region.
However in order to rectify the situation and promote positive and coherent
images of the city-region, there is a need to identify where (i.e. In which areas of
culture) city-region branding would give the best in terms of added value. Too
much in the way of branding on different levels in the past has, according to the
Tourism and Marketing Strategy (AWM 2007) been counter-productive. Any new
cultural promotion of the city-region therefore may need to be checked against
existing regional and sub-regional strategies and branding.

We also need to recognise that the aims and focus of each particular local
authority area may vary according to its particular demographics or character.
The three cities in the city-region, for example, have different cultural targets,
strengths and weaknesses when compared with Walsall, Solihull or Sandwell.
Attracting new residents, attracting tourists and retaining graduates all constitute
different aims, perhaps requiring different approaches. Strategies directly
focussed on improving quality-of-life of existing residents may also vary.

Another finding is that use of the surrounding countryside may be helping
Coventry and Telford to attract tourism. The marketing of Warwickshire with
Coventry and the Shropshire countryside along with Ironbridge provides a very
attractive front for those cities and with some research into the success or
otherwise of these strategies, it may be something the city-region could capitalise
on across its area. The Black Country however also seems to have its own
image (although it was not found to be a place brand by the study which informed
he recent Tourism and Branding strategy for AWM). The branding issue would
have to be given particular consideration if parts of the Black Country had to be
integrated in city-region-wide branding.

One element that does coherently connect much of the city-region is its industrial
heritage. However there are dilemmas about how this might be used n marketing
the city-region, specifically around how the image of places being forward-looking
and green can be incorporated in that branding.

Key Questions

   o What aspects of culture could be better promoted to add value to
     perceptions of the city-region?

   o To what extent should the QLSG address the full range of issues affecting
     constituent parts of the city-region, or should the focus be on particular
     areas where joint-working would bring added value?

   o Can areas such as the Black Country, Walsall and Wolverhampton better
     incorporate nearby rural or natural sites to help promote their areas?




                                                                                  92
   o How can the QLSG capitalise on positive recognition of its industrial
     heritage to promote the city-region without damaging the way in which the
     region‟s cities wish to be seen as „moving forward‟?

Should the City-region decide to commit to using culture to shape its future
identity then this needs to be articulated and promoted in a coherent way across
all promotional platforms.




                                                                               93
SECTION B

CHAPTER 8

Mapping of Cultural Assets

Contents


  8.1 Introduction


  8.2 List of maps relating to the City region




                                                 94
    INTRODUCTION

As part of the Phase Three Revision of the Regional Spatial Strategy, CWM and
the West Midlands Regional Assembly worked in partnership to commission
Mapping and Gapping research into West Midlands Cultural Assets. As part of
this work the West Midlands regional Observatory (WMRO) were commissioned
to undertake some „contextual mapping‟ of West Midlands cultural assets.

This involved:

      Mapping of population and demographic characteristics at regional and
       City Regional levels.

      Projections of future population and demographic changes, at regional
       and City Regional levels.

      Mapping the characteristics of the cultural economy. This work was
       undertaken on a regional and City Regional basis and broken down into
       cultural sub-sectors.

      The following were spatially mapped and represented in GIS form, on a
       regional and City Regional basis-
           All cultural assets
           Current population and demographic characteristics (age, ethnicity,
              health, migration, skills etc)
           Projected changes in population density to 2026
           Density of employment in the cultural economy
           Transport linkages to the assets
           Area-based initiatives, e.g. Regeneration Zones, HRAs

The mapping work completed to date is heavily focussed on cultural supply, with
less focus on demand for culture. It was hoped that cultural participation data
would be made available through the information collected as part of the
Regional Economic Integrated Assessment, also being undertaken by the
WMRO for the BCBC City Region. However, local authority responses to this
survey have been too patchy to allow for participation mapping.

In late 2008 new DCMS data (Active people) will become available for cultural
participation at local level. CWM will also be commissioning further work into
cultural demand. This future work will be made available to the QLSG.

Almost 200 maps were produced at the City Regional level; these are listed at
8.2 below. A small sample of these are shown at 8.3, however all of the maps
have been made available to the members of the QLSG.




                                                                                 95
In order to show the relationship between the City Region and its hinterland,
maps use the „Central Housing Market Area‟. This includes all of the City region,
plus Cannock, Lichfield, North Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Rugby,
South Staffordshire and Tamworth. This was chosen because it is based on
statistical analysis of functional connections between places, as demonstrated
through travel to work, workplace attachment and other interactions. It has the
added advantage of joining Telford to the rest of the City Region.

Maps are also available showing data at a local level for Birmingham, Coventry
and Wolverhampton. Because the majority of assets tend to be located within the
cities these were provided to allow greater detail.



    LIST OF MAPS RELATING TO THE CITY REGION

There are around 200 maps in total which demonstrate the distribution of cultural
assets in the City Region, alongside social and economic data. These maps are:


All Cultural Assets shown

1. Second Home Spaces
2. Areas with a high concentration of young people (0-15) and Pensioners
3. Projected change in population density 15-24 (2006-2026)
4. Projected change in population density 25-44 (2006-2026)
5. Projected change in population density 45-64 (2006-2026)
6. Projected change in population density 65-74 (2006-2026)
7. Projected change in population density 75+ (2006-2026)
8. Projected change in population density 0-14 (2006-2026)
9. Projected change in population density (2006-2026)
10. Projected change in population density (2016-2026)
11. Proportion of Population that is BME (2001)
12. Proportion of Population that is BME (Estimated 2005)
13. All Assets by Domain
14. Current Population Density
15. Number of National Insurance Registrations (EU Migrants)
16. High Multiple Deprivation Level
17. Health Multiple Deprivation
18. Skills deprivation level
19. Median Household Income
20. Share of Population with Long Term Limiting Illness
21. Regeneration initiatives
22. Urban/rural classification
23. International, National, Regional and Sub-regional Access Links
24. Share of total land which is green-space



                                                                                96
International Assets Only

   Birmingham

25. All within city, by domain
26. Access links
27. Areas with high concentrations of young people (0-15) and pensioners
28. Proportion of Population that is BME (2001)
29. Current Population Density
30. High Multiple Deprivation Level
31. Health Multiple Deprivation
32. Skills deprivation level
33. Share of Population with Long Term Limiting Illness
34. Regeneration initiatives
35. Second home spaces
36. Urban/rural classification

   Coventry

37. All assets
38. Access inks


National Assets Only

39. All Within BCBC City-Region

   Birmingham

40. All within city, by domain
41. Access links
42. Areas with high concentrations of young people (0-15) and pensioners
43. Proportion of Population that is BME (2001)
44. Current Population Density
45. High Multiple Deprivation Level
46. Health Multiple Deprivation
47. Share of Population with Long Term Limiting Illness
48. Regeneration initiatives
49. Second home spaces
50. Urban/rural classification
51. Skills deprivation level

   Coventry




                                                                           97
52. All within city, by domain
53. Access links
54. Areas with high concentrations of young people (0-15) and pensioners
55. Proportion of Population that is BME (2001)
56. Current Population Density
57. High Multiple Deprivation Level
58. Health Deprivation
59. Skills deprivation level
60. Share of Population with Long Term Limiting Illness
61. Regeneration initiatives
62. Second home spaces

   Wolverhampton

63. All within city, by domain
64. Access Links

Regional Assets Only

65. Second Home household Spaces
66. High concentrations of young people (0-15) and pensioners
67. Proportion of Population that is BME (2001)
68. Proportion of Population that is BME (2005 Estimates)
69. All assets by domain
70. Current Population Density
71. EU Migrants
72. High Multiple Deprivation Level
73. Health Deprivation
74. Skills deprivation level
75. Median Household Income
76. Share of Population with Long Term Limiting Illness
77. Regeneration initiatives
78. Urban/Rural Classification
79. Projected change in population density (2006-2016)
80. Projected change in population density 0-14 (2006-2016)
81. Projected change in population density 15-24 (2006-2026)
82. Projected change in population density 25-44 (2006-2026)
83. Projected change in population density 45-64 (2006-2026)
84. Projected change in population density 65-74 (2006-2026)
85. Projected change in population density 75+ (2006-2026)
86. Projected change in population density (2006-2026)
87. Projected change in population density (2016-2026)




                                                                           98
   Birmingham

88. All - By Domain
89. By Access Links
90. By Concentration of Young People ()-15) and Pensioners
91. Proportion of Population that is BME (2001)
92. Current Population Density
93. High Multiple Deprivation
94. Health Deprivation Level
95. Skills deprivation level
96. Regeneration initiatives
97. Second home spaces
98. Urban/rural classification

   Coventry

99. All - By Domain
100. By Access Links
101. By Concentration of Young People ()-15) and Pensioners
102. Proportion of Population that is BME (2001)
103. Current Population Density
104. High Multiple Deprivation
105. Health Deprivation Level
106. Skills deprivation level
107. Regeneration initiatives
108. Second home spaces
109. Urban/rural classification

   Wolverhampton

110.   All - By Domain
111.   By Access Links
112.   By Concentration of Young People ()-15) and Pensioners
113.   Proportion of Population that is BME (2001)
114.   Current Population Density
115.   High Multiple Deprivation
116.   Health Deprivation Level
117.   Skills deprivation level
118.   Regeneration initiatives
119.   Second home spaces
120.   Urban/rural classification

City Regional Assets

121.   Second Home household Spaces
122.   High concentrations of young people (0-15) and pensioners



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123.   Proportion of Population that is BME (2001)
124.   Proportion of Population that is BME (2005 Estimates)
125.   All assets by domain
126.   Current Population Density
127.   EU Migrants
128.   High Multiple Deprivation Level
129.   Health Deprivation
130.   Skills deprivation level
131.   Median Household Income
132.   Share of Population with Long Term Limiting Illness
133.   Regeneration initiatives
134.   Urban/Rural Classification
135.   Projected change in population density (2006-2016)
136.   Projected change in population density 0-14 (2006-2016)
137.   Projected change in population density 15-24 (2006-2026)
138.   Projected change in population density 25-44 (2006-2026)
139.   Projected change in population density 45-64 (2006-2026)
140.   Projected change in population density 65-74 (2006-2026)
141.   Projected change in population density 75+ (2006-2026)
142.   Projected change in population density (2006-2026)
143.   Projected change in population density (2016-2026)

   Birmingham

144.   All - By Domain
145.   By Access Links
146.   Second home spaces
147.   By Concentration of Young People (0-15) and Pensioners
148.   Proportion of Population that is BME (2001)
149.   High Multiple Deprivation
150.   Health Deprivation Level
151.   Skills deprivation level
152.   Long-term limiting illness
153.   Current Population density
154.   Regeneration initiatives
155.   Urban/rural classification

   Coventry

156.   All Assets, by Domain
157.   Access Links

   Wolverhampton

158.   All assets, by domain
159.   Access Links



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Assets by Domain/Sector – Birmingham

160.   Arts
161.   Contemporary Built Environment
162.   Festivals and Events
163.   Heritage
164.   Leisure and Tourism
165.   Libraries and Archives
166.   Sports

Assets by Domain/Sector – Coventry

167.   Arts
168.   Festivals and Events
169.   Heritage
170.   Leisure and Tourism
171.   Libraries and Archives
172.   Sports

Assets by Domain/Sector – Wolverhampton

173.   Arts
174.   Festivals and Events
175.   Heritage
176.   Leisure and Tourism
177.   Sports

Leisure Assets

178.   West Midlands Region - Cycle Routes, Rivers and Canals
179.   West Midlands Region – Urban and Rural Classification
180.   Birmingham – Cycle Routes, Rivers and Canals
181.   Birmingham – Urbana and Rural Classification
182.   Wolverhampton – Cycle Routes, Rivers and Canals
183.   Wolverhampton – Urban and Rural Classification
184.   Coventry - Cycle Routes, Rivers and Canals
185.   Coventry – Urban and Rural Classification

Location Quotients

186.   Audio Visual Domain
187.   Books and Press
188.   Heritage
189.   Performance
190.   Sports
191.   Tourism



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192.   Visual Arts

Birmingham

193.   Audio Visual Domain
194.   Books and Press
195.   Heritage
196.   Performance
197.   Sports
198.   Tourism
199.   Visual Arts

Coventry

200.   Heritage
201.   Performance
202.   Sports
203.   Tourism
204.   Visual Arts

Wolverhampton

205.   Audio Visual Domain
206.   Heritage
207.   Performance
208.   Sports
209.   Tourism
210.   Visual Arts




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SECTION C

CHAPTER 9

Development of Key Policy Themes


Contents


9.1 Introduction



9.2 Facilitated Workshop (10,1,08)



9.3 Analysis of the key cultural themes



9.4 Responses to key questions



9.5 Themes and the Framework for Action




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9.1 INTRODUCTION

Throughout the development of this scoping study the QLSG discussed the
implications arising from the ongoing research findings and considered how
improvements to cultural infrastructure and to the delivery of cultural services
could best respond to them, in order for culture to better contribute to the
improvement of quality of life in the City Region.

A key stage in this process was a facilitated workshop for the QLSG, which
focussed on developing „big ideas‟ that could be developed and recommended to
the City Region board for joint investment. Group members had previously
shared their top infrastructure and service priorities and this session gave the
group an opportunity to debate and discuss the priorities jointly.

The opportunities that emerged were a mix of key themes and initiatives; these
were then refined at three later meetings-
    The opportunities were analysed against the first phase research strands
       shown in Section One of this document.
    They were prioritised following a session where the QLSG agreed a
       collective position on a number of key questions.
    Further amendments were then made following the completion of the
       mapping and gapping analysis included in Section Two.

The final opportunities are included within the policy recommendations given at
Chapter 10.



9.2 FACILITATED WORKSHOP (10,1,08)

For this session, members of the QLSG were presented with the challenge of
determining which actions could best enable the City Region‟s cultural assets
and activities to improve quality of life.

They were given the SWOT analysis for culture in the City Region and asked to
develop ideas that met the following criteria for City Regional significance:




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“What are the actions which would best enable our cultural assets and activities to
improve Quality of Life in the City Region”

   With the evidence to achieve lasting national and international reputation change
   With the evidence to enhance the profile and promote the distinctiveness of the City
    Region locally, nationally and internationally

In terms of Prosperity what actions:

   Will create prosperity and maximum sustainable regional economic impact?
   Will show-case the City Region world-wide?
   Will establish the City Region nationally and internationally as a great place to live,
    work, study, visit and invest?


In terms of Place what specific actions:

   Will achieve significant transformational change?
   Will shape distinctive places and engender pride?
   Will establish national and international gateways?


In terms of People what specific actions:

   Will enhance quality of life and residents‟ pride in their City Region?
   Will increase and diversify participation and strengthen social cohesion?
   Will promote healthy living, personal development, educational and community
    benefit?
   Will persuade others that the City Region offers them and their families the quality of
    life they expect so that they choose this region as the place in which to live, work,
    study and do business



Ideas were grouped under the categories of People, Place and Prosperity as
these are the thematic areas used in both the Regional Cultural Strategy and the
Regional Economic Strategy. The resulting ideas are shown below.

People
   The main issue remains the lack of identity of the City Region and the
     need to build a sense of awareness and belonging amongst residents
   A campaign which focuses on the assets of the City Region and the
     diversity of its attractions, whilst outlining its core offer;
        - This should link to other agendas such as housing renewal
        - It should also refer to the central location of the City Region and its
          accessibility



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           - The aim is to get people feeling like they are City Region residents
             and that the wider cultural offer is available to them to enjoy
      Better linkage within marketing – cross market campaigns and through
       websites, along the lines of “if you like that, you‟ll like this”;
           - A clustering of like with like and themed promotion of attractions
      Our provision of culturally diverse activities is distinctive and better touring
       infrastructure for it across the City Region would be advantageous
      Developing an innovative family-friendly play/cultural offer
           - making this a distinctive City Region feature- attracting media
             attention and promoting the City Region as a great place to bring up
             families
      Focus on young people- achieving their potential
           - enabling young people, inspired by the 2012 Games to become the
             „best that they can be‟

Place
    The City Region needs to lose its image as a grey urban sprawl.
    Greenspace should be promoted, and linked to healthy living agendas and
      sustainability;
         - The image should move away from its industrial past and focus on
           looking forward and a reputation for sustainability
    Innovation and culture should be the main messages in branding of City
      Region gateways;
         - Public art could help to define the City Region boundaries as has
           been successful in the North East
    Delivering the Black Country Park and Green corridors as a model for
      sustainable living
         - extending the concept from Telford to Coventry, benefiting from the
           natural environment unique to this City Region and linking this to new
           urban landscapes
    Re-establish dynamic links between arts/creativity and industry/crafts
      based manufacturing
         - Using our indigenous crafts skills to enliven and make distinct the built
           environment, e.g. glass, leather, enamels, metalworking, jewellery
           (ceramics and carpets further afield). Connecting this to a
           strengthened contemporary arts offer with an international focus

Prosperity
    Integrate culture into inward investment and relocation programmes,
     through;
         - better informing colleagues in these disciplines at City Region level,
           and through work with AWM;
         - Developing materials to showcase really significant cultural assets
         - Cultural sector ambassadors for the City Region to work with Inward
           Investment programmes
    Graduate retention is key;


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          - Join up across the City Region to develop Creative Industries jobs
            with other partners, such as LSC, AWM and Business Link
          - Develop local talent and provide training programmes
          - The presence of creative individuals in the City Region contributes to
            regeneration and the creation of vibrant places
          - Our reputation for knowledge and innovation is important and the
            wider learning offer (including library sector) helps to develop
            innovation
      Improved transport Gateways
          - including a cultural element in the New St plans, using culture to
            create stronger first impressions across the City Region and generally
            gearing transport links to meet cultural as well as business needs
      Marketing of City Region, through the Cultural Olympiad/Festival
          - as the eyes of the world switch from China to the UK in Aug 2008,
            ensure that the City Region is positioned to attract international
            attention.



9.3 ANALYSIS OF THE KEY CULTURAL THEMES

The above ideas/themes were further developed and their potential effectiveness
analysed against the findings from the first phase of research produced by this
scoping study. Assessments were made as to the complexity and likely
implementation times for each theme.

Marketing and Promotion

9.3.1 Joining up marketing to increase cultural participation across the
      City Region
    Undertaking cultural marketing across the City Region, as well as at local
      authority level
    Joint marketing campaigns, “if you like that, you‟ll like this”
    Take-up could be used to track demand
    An aim would be to get people feeling like they are City Region residents
      and that the wider cultural offer is available to them to enjoy
    Would be possible to do at relatively low cost- possibly by contracting
      services

  Evidence                        Relevance to Theme                     Positive
                                                                         Impact
Local Cultural   Coventry, Sandwell, Telford and Wolverhampton
Strategies       strategies indicate that marketing of cultural assets       Y
Review           could be stronger. The varied nature of strengths
                 across the city-region provides opportunities for
                 marketing, but it may also provide challenges.


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                 Birmingham aspires to market on a city-regional level.
Expert           Responds to weaknesses- fragmented and under-
Survey (LA &     resourced marketing/lack of visibility for cultural               Y
Regional)        assets outside Birmingham.
Cultural         Many of the region‟s cultural assets are located in the
Assets           city region. The baseline will provide a useful resource          _
Baseline         for understanding which cultural assets can be jointly
                 marketed on a city regional basis.
Contextual       Should provide demographic information to inform                  _
Mapping          marketing.
Promotion &      There is no promotional website for the City Region to
Perceptions      support joint marketing. Existing websites do not                 _
Review           promote activities in neighbouring areas. Culture is a
                 key driver for overseas visits to the region; festivals
                 and events also attract new visitors.
Regional         Increasing participation in culture is an objective for           Y
Strategy         the RCS, RSS and RES.
Review

    This theme could be developed as a QUICK WIN initiative and is not
     dependent upon major investment for success.

9.3.2 Developing the cultural script/offer which will best promote the City
      Region
    There is no core message for the City Region yet, nor the belief of
      Manchester- a real obstacle
    Any campaign should focus on the cultural assets of the City Region and
      the diversity of its attractions, whilst outlining its core offer. This should link
      to other agendas such as housing renewal. It should also refer to the
      central location of the City Region and its accessibility
    By formulating and articulating key cultural messages, the Quality of Life
      Group will be able to assist in the overall promotion/branding of the City
      Region, externally and to residents.
    The following initiatives present medium term opportunities to promote a
      City Region cultural offer-
          - through the Cultural Olympiad/Festival, as the eyes of the world
            switch from China to the UK in Aug 2008 and in the run up to 2012
          - the significant anniversaries of 2009
          - a potential international festival for the region in 2010
          - festivals and events in general are a very effective way of attracting
            new people to the City Region and building up good word of mouth
            profile.

  Evidence                         Relevance to Theme                          Positive
                                                                               Impact
Local Cultural   Image is cited as a problem, in particular for the three


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Strategies     cities in the city-region. Dudley and Telford in             Y
Review         particular have strengths around their industrial
               heritage, whereas Birmingham wants to develop a
               reputation as a cleaner and greener city.
               Five of the strategies have aims to increase/improve
               festivals and events.
Expert         Responds to weaknesses- lack of coherent identity for
Survey (LA &   the City Region and inadequate branding/poor                 Y
Regional)      perceptions of the City region/need for more high
               profile events and festivals. Responds to
               opportunities- 3 new festivals (2 international).
Cultural       The baseline will provide a resource to aid
Assets         understanding of which cultural assets are best able         _
Baseline       to promote the City Region to different audiences. It
               will also assist understanding of how neighbouring
               cultural assets can also be used to improve
               perceptions of the City region.
Contextual     Should provide demographic information to inform             _
Mapping        marketing.
Perceptions    There is little joint promotion or external recognition of
Review         the City Region. However, „Birmingham‟ is a strong
               business brand. A resident survey cited visitor              Y
               attractions, parks and nightlife as strengths. Attracting
               new residents, attracting tourists and retaining
               graduates all constitute different aims, requiring
               different approaches.
Regional       RES- Promoting Birmingham as an international
Strategy       brand and the region‟s capital.                              Y
Review         VES- Culture is a key driver for overseas visits;
               festivals and events are a growth opportunity.
               RCS- Improved marketing and promotion.
               RSS-

    This is a KEY TASK. However, rather than tackling it as a standalone
     initiative it may be more effective to concentrate on one or more of the
     themes in the following section (4. onwards). Promoted well, each of these
     could develop a distinctive cultural identity for the City Region, with the
     potential for changing overall perceptions.

9.3.3 Promoting a cultural offer that increases inward investment and
      relocation of businesses and residents to the City region
    Co-ordination between cultural, inward investment and marketing officers
      to develop tailored promotional messages at City Region level.
    Developing effective opportunities to showcase the City Region‟s cultural
      assets, e.g. abroad, trade shows



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      Cultural ambassadors to champion the City Region, e.g. on overseas
       tours or better co-ordination with trade delegations
      There is a need to establish responsibility for undertaking these activities
       to benefit the City Region
      City-Regional activities would need to be planned and undertaken in close
       collaboration with regional marketing initiatives

  Evidence                        Relevance to Theme                           Positive
                                                                               Impact
Local Cultural   Issues affecting cultural offer- Coventry, Sandwell and
Strategies       Telford lack cultural/lifestyle amenities in their centres,      _
Review           and there are concerns around crime/community
                 safety in Coventry, Dudley, Telford and
                 Wolverhampton.
                 Birmingham and Coventry seek international
                 recognition.
Expert           Responds to opportunities- a number of new or
Survey (LA &     redeveloped cultural facilities will benefit the overall         Y
Regional)        cultural offer in the future. New cultural provision is
                 planned for Dudley, Telford, West Bromwich and
                 Wolverhampton centres.
Cultural         Will aid the promotion of cultural assets to appropriate
Assets           audiences, e.g. domestic/international. May be a need            _
Baseline         for comparative analysis with similar city regions in
                 future.
Contextual       Should provide demographic information to inform                 _
Mapping          marketing.
Perceptions      Little external recognition of the City Region.
Review           Entertainment and tourism are important vehicles for
                 raising awareness of the region amongst employers.               Y
                 Business would appear to view cultural provision as
                 satisfactory but not comprehensive. It would appear to
                 be beneficial for a City Region cultural offer to include
                 neighbouring natural environments.
Regional         RES- Competing in the global economy. Developing
Strategy         sustainable communities. Birmingham competing as a               Y
Review           global city.
                 RSS- Urban Renaissance

    This theme could be implemented as a set of QUICK WIN initiatives.
     However, to be sufficiently strategic and effective, they are dependent on
     Theme 2. being achieved first.


Developing Distinctiveness



                                                                                      110
9.3.4 Nurturing our cultural diversity

      Showcasing the high quality culturally diverse activity being produced in
       the City region
      Supporting and developing work and marketing it within and without the
       City Region
      Would need to pilot, ensuring that we do have the quality product and
       identifying touring gaps

  Evidence                         Relevance to Theme                            Positive
                                                                                 Impact
Local Cultural   Strong strategic fit- all six strategies prioritise BME
Strategies       groups for increased participation. Birmingham and                 Y
Review           Coventry particularly emphasise opportunities relating
                 to the diversity of their areas.
Expert           Building on a strength- diverse populations with
Survey (LA &     dynamic cultures.                                                  Y
Regional)        Anticipating a threat- meeting the needs of a more
                 diverse population.
Cultural         Identifies cultural facilities of city regional significance.      _
Assets
Baseline
Contextual       Could be used to inform the location of any future                 _
Mapping          provision.
Perceptions      Not covered.                                                       _
Review
Regional         RCS- Promoting cultural diversity                                  Y
Strategy         RES- Creating economically sustainable businesses.
Review

    This theme could be initiated as a comparatively low cost QUICK WIN.
     However, developing further is likely to require the provision of better
     touring infrastructure across the City Region

9.3.5 Developing an innovative family-friendly play/cultural offer
    Making this a distinctive City Region feature- something we do better than
      anyone else
    Is unlikely to attract large numbers of visitors, rather would promote the
      City Region as a great place to bring up families (as well as improving
      lifestyles for existing residents)
    Play is currently a political priority with new investment
    requires one or two high profile assets and widespread commitment to
      achieving excellence in the provision of play facilities across the City
      Region

   Evidence                          Relevance to Theme                          Positive


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                                                                          Impact
Local Cultural     Strong strategic fit- all six strategies have
Strategies         objectives relating to children and young people.         Y
Review             Birmingham as Europe‟s youngest city.
Expert Survey      Responding to an opportunity- developing the City
(LA & Regional)    Region as a place for families and young people.          Y
Cultural Assets    No dedicated Play assets highlighted in the               _
Baseline           baseline. However, many assets could be
                   packaged/marketed for family audiences.
Contextual         Will highlight future growth areas for children and        _
Mapping            young people.
Perceptions        Only Coventry currently promotes family days out.
Review             A resident survey found facilities for teenagers and      Y
                   young children a weakness.
Regional           RCS- Involving children and young people                  Y
Strategy Review    RES- Developing sustainable communities.

    Whilst agreeing and marketing a City Region family friendly offer could be
     a QUICK WIN, unless there is a genuine shared commitment to making
     this offer more attractive than anything else on the market it is unlikely to
     be sustainable. One or two high profile new facilities would signal this
     commitment which could lead to a genuine USP for the City Region.

9.3.6 Focus on young people- achieving their potential
    enabling young people, inspired by the 2012 Games to become the „best
      that they can be‟- developing pathways of potential
    Build on the government‟s „5 hours of culture‟ initiative for schools. Linked
      to the new Creative and Media Diplomas as an entry route to employment
      in the cultural industries
    Need to value young people socially as well as economically-
          - celebrating volunteering
          - young people with more decision making opportunities
          - schools more involved with their communities
    Using culture to provide services to young people through LAAs
    The major obstacle to achieving this theme is the need to alter mindsets
      and overcome prejudice about young people

   Evidence                       Relevance to Theme                      Positive
                                                                          Impact
Local Cultural     Strong strategic fit- all six strategies have
Strategies         objectives relating to children and young people.         Y
Review             Birmingham and Coventry emphasise their young
                   demographics. Birmingham as Europe‟s youngest
                   city. Five strategies have aims to relate culture to
                   learning.
Expert Survey      Responding to opportunity- developing the City


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(LA & Regional)    Region as a place for families and young people           Y
                   Responding to a threat- in Birmingham and
                   Sandwell younger populations will grow (need to
                   provide appropriate provision)
Cultural Assets    This theme would need to be informed by an                _
Baseline           understanding of cultural facilities at a more local
                   level than those covered by the baseline.
Contextual         Will include spatial economic analysis                    _
Mapping
Perceptions        A resident survey found facilities for teenagers and      _
Review             young children a weakness.
Regional           RCS- Involving children and young people.
Strategy Review    Cultural ladders of opportunity.                          Y
                   RES- Skills for employment and enterprise.

    Putting young people at the heart of City Regional strategy could bring
     major profile and promote the area to potential new residents. It is a wide
     and complex theme though, which would require real commitment (as 5.
     above) to achieve.

9.3.7 Altering the image of the City Region by locating our industrial
      heritage within a greener future
    Major campaign to promote awareness of quality greenspace across the
      City Region
    Improvements to greenspace will enhance quality of life and place but
      should also be seen as central to developing healthy, active lifestyles
    Existing cycle and walking routes should be linked and enhanced to
      provide viable alternatives to car travel
    Developing ways to re-interpret our industrial heritage; respecting its
      importance whilst giving it relevance within a greener, cleaner landscape.
      Possible through re-use of buildings, greenspace improvements around
      assets, improving access to canals.
    Delivering the Black Country Urban Park and spreading its benefits/reach
      across the City Region will be crucial to achieving this theme on a
      transformational scale (see 7.2 below)

   Evidence                       Relevance to Theme                      Positive
                                                                          Impact
Local Cultural     Five of the strategies feature health and wellbeing.
Strategies         Dudley, Sandwell and Telford share strengths in           Y
Review             industrial and natural heritage. Ironbridge Gorge
                   and Dudley geology are USPs.
Expert Survey      Building on strengths- Canal network/industrial and
(LA & Regional)    geological heritage in Dudley and wider Black             Y
                   Country/Telford‟s natural environment/7 museums,
                   including Ironbridge/4 premier parks


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                   Responds to a weakness- quality of parks and
                   open spaces needs improving.
Cultural Assets    Baseline identifies 9 parks/greenspace and 14             _
Baseline           assets relating to industrial heritage of more than
                   local significance. Could be built on with local
                   detail.
Contextual         Will show regionally significant cycle paths and          _
Mapping            pathways.
Perceptions        Countryside, and to a lesser extent, parks are
Review             strengths / proximity of countryside used to market       Y
                   Telford and Coventry / industrial heritage a
                   common feature in branding and promotion with
                   high external recognition.
Regional           RCS- Natural, built and historic environments.            Y
Strategy Review    Active participation and well-being.

    A major campaign to promote the City Region‟s greenspace and active
     lifestyles could be a QUICK WIN. As with 5 and 6 however, benefits are
     likely to be short-lived without shared commitment to achieving real
     improvements to green and open spaces. Linking heritage assets to
     greenspace improvements could become a USP for the City Region.

9.3.8 Delivering the Black Country Urban Park and Green corridors as a
      transformational model for sustainable living
    Hearts and minds have been won for the Urban Park and the case made
      for its feasibility. The major obstacle therefore is to align funding and
      development over a longer timescale.
    Funding will need to be achieved through the co-ordination of many
      sources, such as planning gain.
    It is important to reinforce the importance of the Urban Park within the
      RSS and the emerging Integrated Regional Strategy.
    There is a developing consensus on the City Region board about the
      benefits of extending the Urban Park across the City Region
    An urban park connecting greenspaces across the City Region provides a
      vehicle to conceptually associate the natural environment of Telford with
      new urban landscapes running across to Coventry. Such an approach
      would capitalise on natural assets in a way that is unique amongst English
      city regions.

   Evidence                      Relevance to Theme                       Positive
                                                                          Impact
Local Cultural     Five of the strategies feature health and wellbeing.
Strategies         Dudley, Sandwell and Telford share strengths in           Y
Review             industrial and natural heritage. Ironbridge Gorge
                   and Dudley geology are USPs.
Expert Survey      Building on strengths- Canal network/industrial and


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(LA & Regional)    geological heritage in Dudley and wider Black
                   Country/Telford‟s natural environment/4 premier          Y
                   parks
                   Responding to a weakness- quality of parks and
                   open spaces needs improving
                   Responding to an opportunity- Urban Park and its
                   component parts/enhancements to Wrekin access
Cultural Assets    Baseline identifies 9 parks/greenspace of more            _
Baseline           than local significance. Could be built on with local
                   detail.
Contextual         Will show regionally significant cycle paths and
Mapping            pathways.
Perceptions        Countryside, and to a lesser extent, parks are
Review             strengths / proximity of countryside used to market      Y
                   Telford and Coventry.
Regional           RCS- Natural, built and historic environments.
Strategy Review    Active participation and well-being.                     Y

    Dependent on the City Region board agreeing to the Urban Park concept
     being extended across the City Region. A long-term project and
     commitment but one that would provide the City Region with a USP and
     identity.

9.3.9 Using public art and cultural activity to assert a City regional identity
      at key transport gateways and to define the City Region boundaries
    The use of public art in this way has been successful in other regions, e.g.
      the North East
    Visual symbols of the City Region would need to be distinctive, possibly by
      focussing on the use of our indigenous skills and materials (see 9).
      However, the approach would also need to be innovative, in order to forge
      a new „future thinking‟ identity (see 7.1)
    Key transport gateways would include Birmingham airport, New Street
      station and other key rail stations, e.g. Coventry re-development
    There is a need to identify the key boundary locations for „City Region‟
      public art. Also, need to consider how Telford can be positioned as a
      gateway to the City region whilst not being physically conterminous
    Cultural activity can be provided at transport gateways to create stronger
      first impressions of the City Region and provide an alternative to
      shopping/eating/drinking. With sufficient profile this can allow the
      „gateway‟ to become a „destination‟ in its own right.
    The City Region identity could be reinforced internally, by using public art
      at neighbourhood level
    Large-scale public art can be expensive. To get maximum impact the City
      Region would need to commit to this approach over the longer term, to be
      incorporated into master planning for all key locations and with substantial
      private sector contributions


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      As transport usage changes in the future, there is a need to ensure that
       transport links meet cultural as well as business needs

   Evidence                       Relevance to Theme                      Positive
                                                                          Impact
Local Cultural     Image is cited as a problem, in particular for the        _
Strategies         three cities in the city-region.
Review
Expert Survey      Responds to weaknesses- lack of coherent identity
(LA & Regional)    for the City Region and inadequate branding / poor        Y
                   perceptions of the City region.
Cultural Assets    Does not identify public art but does include              _
Baseline           contemporary built environment
Contextual         Could be used as a resource for identifying                _
Mapping            locations for boundary markers.
Perceptions        Little external recognition of the City Region            Y
Review
Regional           RCS- Natural, built and historic environments.
Strategy Review    RES- developing sustainable communities.                  Y
                   Birmingham competing as a global city.

    Without initial large-scale investment this theme is likely to be a long-term
     commitment, building up sufficient numbers of gateway
     features/markers/activity over time. These would need to be conceptually
     linked and distinctive to the City Region.


Growing our Cultural Economy

9.3.10 e-establish the dynamic links between our historic strengths in
       crafts-based manufacturing and creativity and innovation.
    Capitalise on the City Region‟s very strong history of indigenous crafts
       production (glass, leather, enamels, metalworking and jewellery, with
       ceramics and carpets further afield).
    Connecting this historic strength in innovation and entrepreneurialism to a
       strengthened contemporary arts offer with a similarly international focus
    Reinvent the creativity inherent in our heritage assets to support the
       growth of new creative places (Ironbridge and Jewellery Quarter)
    To enliven and make distinct the built environment (see 8.) for example,
       through signage

   Evidence                       Relevance to Theme                      Positive
                                                                          Impact
Local Cultural     Objectives to develop creative industries in all
Strategies         strategies; given particular attention by Coventry        Y
Review             and Birmingham.


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Expert Survey       Building on strengths- craft-based clusters +
(LA & Regional)     emerging digital clusters / range and depth of arts
                    provision, including 8 quality art galleries.             Y
                    Responds to opportunities- redeveloped and new
                    arts facilities, including new cultural provision in
                    four of the town centres
                    Responding to a threat- meeting the needs of
                    people with more sophisticated understanding of
                    technology
Cultural Assets     Crafts design excellence celebrated at museums in         _
Baseline            Stourbridge, Bilston, Walsall, Birmingham and
                    Telford.
Contextual          Creative industries mapping to be included.               _
Mapping
Perceptions         Glass, leather and metal working promoted on
Review              Black Country Tourism website. Industrial heritage        Y
                    a common feature in branding and promotion with
                    high external recognition.
Regional            RCS- Natural, built and historic environments.
Strategy Review     Focusing on priority areas. Supporting creative           Y
                    business.
                    RES- Stimulating innovation, creativity and
                    knowledge generation. Maximising our cultural
                    offer and natural assets.

    This theme is strong conceptually, linking a historic strength of the City
     Region to economic objectives (innovation, technology and enterprise). As
     such it could provide a strong USP for the City Region. However,
     underdeveloped in terms of taking forward. There is potential for this
     theme to benefit from current moves to develop a closer West Midlands
     relationship with the V & A Museum.

9.3.11 Becoming a City Region which values creative businesses; for their
       economic success and for their role in attracting and retaining talent
    Plan collaboratively across the City Region (and with regional partners) to
       support creative industries, e.g. by promoting existing opportunities,
       through the provision of workspace, showcasing of local talent, provision
       of training
    Increasing the City region‟s reputation for growing creative industries also
       helps to promote our capacity to foster innovation. This should be
       enhanced through building greater linkages to our Universities and to the
       Birmingham Science City initiative.
    Research for the DCMS/BERR/DIUS Creative Industries strategy shows
       that creative businesses are attracted by strong cultural infrastructure. At
       the same time, the creative industries contribute to a locality‟s sense of
       place. The City region should work collaboratively to provide the


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       „favourable climate‟ which will foster creative growth; building on the
       aspirations of the national strategy for the „local economies of our biggest
       cities to be driven by creativity‟
      Work with the private sector to support the types of cultural infrastructure
       that young people value

      We need to better understand who the people are that we want to retain,
       what is important to them in terms of quality of life and what they value
       about the City Region

   Evidence                        Relevance to Theme                      Positive
                                                                           Impact
Local Cultural      Objectives to develop creative industries in all
Strategies          strategies; given particular attention by Coventry         Y
Review              and Birmingham
Expert Survey       Building on strengths- craft-based clusters +
(LA & Regional)     emerging digital clusters/music in Birmingham and
                    Wolverhampton.                                             Y
                    Responding to opportunities- redeveloped and new
                    arts facilities, including new contemporary art
                    gallery/ new cultural provision in four of the town
                    centres/new sports provision/ Responding to
                    opportunities- 3 new festivals (2 international)
Cultural Assets     Identifies consumption rather than production              _
Baseline            assets.
Contextual          Creative industries workforce to be mapped.
Mapping
Perceptions         Just 36% of residents think the WM is known for
Review              creativity (46% in Birmingham).                            Y
Regional            RCS- Supporting creative business.
Strategy Review     RES- Stimulating innovation, creativity and                Y
                    knowledge generation. Maximising our cultural
                    offer and natural assets.

    Joint planning across the City Region to support and grow the creative
     industries could be an achievable QUICK WIN. Support infrastructure
     could potentially be provided more effectively/efficiently if considered from
     a City Region perspective.



9.4 RESPONSES TO KEY QUESTIONS

A number of key questions arise from the first phase of the scoping study that
have a fundamental importance for determining the type and scale of
interventions required to improve the hard and soft cultural infrastructure of the


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City Region. The QLSG developed a joint position on each of these questions
(shown below) which establishes principles for further refinement of the ideas
and themes.

Question 1,
In supporting the development of the City Region, should improvements to
cultural infrastructure and services be focussed [internally] on increasing quality
of life for existing residents, or [externally], on changing perceptions of the area?
Are there enhanced/new cultural assets which could do both things?

The main driver for culture in relation to the City Region is changing the
perceptions of people and organisations outside of the area; making the City
Region a more attractive proposition for new residents, businesses, students and
visitors.

Improvements to cultural infrastructure and services should therefore be ones
that improve the overall attractiveness of the City regions cultural offer. This will
also bring benefits to local people but it is important that any new facilities are
accessible and that they have pricing structures that are appropriate for local
people and for repeat business.

Question 2,
Should the focus be on building up Birmingham‟s cultural asset base and profile
to benefit the whole City Region, or on ensuring good quality provision across the
City Region to supplement the Birmingham offer?

The governing concept should be „Birmingham Plus‟. This requires the
development and marketing of a Birmingham offer which encompasses the high
quality cultural assets that exist in the wider City region. Essentially, there is a
need to expand the Birmingham offer but not at the expense of quality.

Question 3,
In developing a quality of life offer which combines urban cultural opportunities
with access to natural and recreational assets, how can the City Region
articulate its relationship to the cultural strengths available in the hinterland?

Question 4,
How can best use be made of Telford‟s natural and heritage assets, given its
peripheral spatial distance from the rest of the City Region?

These two questions were felt to be highly linked.

It was pointed out that the greenbelt in Solihull effectively isolates Coventry from
the central City Region area, in the same way that Telford is separated by
countryside. The fact that there are rural/natural areas running through the City
Region in this way is an asset that should be integrated into the cultural offer. If a



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natural asset outside of the City Region boundary, Cannock Chase for instance,
can add value to this Cultural Offer it should be included.

Emphasis should be given to improving the quality of green and open spaces in
the City Region in order to complement the natural environment, developing a
distinctive quality to the cultural offer. The excellence of the premier parks should
be built on and complemented by more quality open spaces.

Question 5,
How can the City Region capitalise on its industrial heritage (and the positive
recognition this has) whilst also developing a reputation as a place that is
greener, cleaner, creative and forward thinking?

This should be a clear ambition for developing quality of life in the City Region
and the other key distinctive feature for the City Region‟s cultural offer. Future
initiatives should aim to draw strength from the positive aspects of our industrial
history- innovation, creativity, enterprise- in ways that will make the City Region
an attractive destination for 21st C lifestyles.


9.5 THEMES AND THE FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION

In chapter 2, attention was drawn to the quality of life objectives outlined in the
BCBC City Region Framework for Action. The four actions identified to achieve
these are:

Substantially increase the City Region‟s population
   The development of a cleaner environment and the provision of improved
      green spaces and infrastructure
   Develop and deliver a City Region „cultural offer‟ which promotes the area
      regionally, nationally and internationally

Develop cultural, leisure and sporting facilities and events
   Recognising the role of different cultures in defining and identifying the
      City Region
   A culture, leisure and sporting strategy which builds upon existing venues
      and events to enhance their national and international status.


The table below cross references the Framework actions against the Themes
identified by the QLSG and shows their relative impact.




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BCBC Framework for Action- the extent to which the QLSG themes address Framework quality of
Life actions

Quality of Life actions identified by the BCBC Framework-
   1. The development of a cleaner environment and the provision of improved green spaces
        and infrastructure
   2. Develop and deliver a City Region „cultural offer‟ to promote the area regionally,
        nationally and internationally
   3. Recognising the role of different cultures in defining and identifying the City Region
   4. A culture, leisure and sporting strategy which builds upon existing venues and events to
        enhance their national and international status.

                               BCBC Framework actions
   QLSG theme            1          2      3         4                   Comments
1Joined-up cultural      _        high    low     medium
marketing                                                     1 and 2 are connected and address
2 Develop a CR           _        high      low     medium    the Frame work actions to the
cultural script/offer                                         same extent. could be merged.
3 A cultural offer       _        low       _         low     Low impact against the framework
which increases                                               actions.
inward investment
4 Nurturing cultural     _      Med/low    high       _       Is the only theme which has a high
diversity                                                     impact on Framework action 3.
5 Family-friendly       low     Med/low    med        _       Medium impact on Framework
play/cultural offer                                           action 3 and possibly 2. Could be
                                                              merged with 6.
6 Young people-          _        low      med        _       Medium impact on Framework
achieving their                                               action 3.
potential
7 Positioning our       high    medium      low       low     High impact on Framework action
industrial heritage                                           1, plus lower impacts against all
within a greener                                              others.
future                                                        Similar impacts to 8- could be
                                                              merged.
8 Black Country         high      high      low     medium    The only theme with a high impact
Urban Park on a                                               on two Framework actions.
City region scale
9 Public art and        low     medium    Med/low     _       Medium impact on Framework
cultural activity at                                          action 2 and possibly 3.
key transport
gateways and
boundaries
10 Re-establishing       _        high    Med/low   Med/low   High impact on Framework action
historic strengths in                                         2.
crafts-based
manufacturing,
creativity and
innovation
11 Value creative        _      medium      low       low     Medium impact against Framework
businesses                                                    action 2. Could be incorporated
                                                              within 10.




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