Today, for the first time on this scale, arts, heritage and museums leaders in Essex came together with council chiefs to open a new ongoing collaboration aimed at celebrating the unique and unrivalled cultural history of Essex and to maximise cultural investment into the county.
A Memorandum of Collaboration between Essex County Council and Arts Council England was signed, announcing the commencement of a partnership between the two organisations.
Improving funding for less represented areas of the county and developing an Essex arts, culture and heritage network are two of the pledges made by Essex County Council and Arts Council England.
Cllr John Spence, Essex County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Heritage, Culture and the Arts said: “Our rich cultural landscape and heritage in Essex is vital to our communities’ wellbeing and livelihood. In fact it is one of the many reasons why more and more people see Essex as a great place to live.
“Our county has the third largest creative industries sector in the UK, worth over £2.6bn per year, and it’s time we celebrated that fact. Today’s meeting is the start of what I expect will be a great collaboration, facilitated by Essex County Council, which will to help deliver our ambition of being a powerhouse of heritage, arts and culture.”
Gavin Jones, Chief Executive of Essex County Council, said: “The response from the cultural community and our local authorities to this event has been fantastic. It really highlights the value placed in collaboration and the huge appetite for further acknowledgement of our incredible offering in Essex.
“I’m thrilled that we have this Memorandum of Collaboration with the Arts Council and our local authority partners, which acknowledges the support from this influential national body for the great work we are doing. It is also another example of the spirit of collaboration we have begun to foster today.”
Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “We are really pleased to be able to develop our partnership with Essex County Council and it will help to further our ambition to reach more audiences across Essex. Working together we can explore how our collective investment, along with support from other stakeholders across the county, can better support artists, arts and cultural organisations in Essex.
“We know that local authority budgets remain under considerable pressure and so we welcome this commitment to supporting arts and culture from both Councillor Spence and Essex County Council.”
The Maximising Cultural Partnerships, Ideas and Opportunities event was the first countywide gathering of arts and cultural leaders in Essex. It was the first chance for Arts Council and Essex County Council to put their pledges into action, with workshops helping voluntary groups understand what sources of funding are available and how best to apply. Representatives from Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery, Big Lottery, SHARE Museums East and Museums Essex offered advice and guidance to attendees on applying for funding through their organisations.