Last night I spoke to over 150 people at MK Gallery. This is what I said
It is a privilege to welcome here tonight so many arts, heritage, cultural, creative and sporting professionals, together with their supporters – audience participants, individual philanthropists, corporate donors, trustees and civic leaders alongside representatives from the region’s creative industries and the wider business community to this SE Midlands LEP event. - the first large scale occasion of its kind since the LEP was created by the Coalition government in 2010 and to use the occasion showcase just one of the region’s cultural attractions - MK Gallery - a world class cultural, education and social centre.
A special warm welcome our main speaker Rosemary Squire OBE, founder of The Ambassador Theatre Group, consistently named Most Powerful Person in British Theatre by the Stage Newspaper in their annual Stage 100 list and in February last year assessed as the 16th most powerful woman in the United Kingdom by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4.Back here in Milton Keynes where Rosemary was instrumental in the creation in 1999 of Milton Keynes Theatre - one of the most commercially successful regional theatres in the UK and a decade later our neighbouring ATG theatre the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. We were pleased ATG kept its theatre development in the SEMLEP area!
MKTG are just two examples of a flourishing arts, heritage, cultural, creative and sporting environment across a recognized functional economic area, comprising 11 local authority councils, a combined population of 1.7 million - and growing - an economy with a GVA of £39bn - the 7th largest LEP in the country.There are 39 LEPs - economic development partnerships, operated jointly by the private and public sectors, and in the case of SEMLEP - with the single purpose of promoting the South East Midlands as a prime growth location for business, investors and visitors.The South East Midlands is home to thriving and diverse arts, heritage, cultural, creative and sporting sectors; the talent, innovation and business acumen that is integral to these sectors not only supports our visitor economy but also boosts jobs and business growth and contributes to the health and well being of individuals and communities.
That’s what the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership is about….
why the arts, heritage, cultural, creative and sporting sectors and the visitor economy are so critical to the success of the LEP
why the arts, heritage, cultural, creative and sporting sectors and the visitor economy are one of 5 showcase sectors in the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan
why we have a private Board member of SEMLEP, Tom Wells, who is strategic Board lead for the arts, heritage, cultural, creative and sporting sectors and the visitor economy and acts as a Board champion for this area of our work, chairing the group of professionals and specialists working with us across the LEP
and it’s why we are holding this event to night - to place on public record SEMLEP’s commitment to promoting the intrinsic value as well as the economic benefits of the arts, heritage, cultural, creative and sporting sectors and the visitor economy to our communities, and within the remit and funding available to us – to ensuring these continue to flourish
I’d like to thank Tom for the work he has done on this, together with another business Board member, with a keen personal interest in the arts, Rae Levene. Both are champions of what all of you in this room care passionately about and the Board of SEMLEP look to them to work with you to ensure we reflect your needs and interests.
From Corby and Kettering in the north east of SEMLEP to Cranfield at the heart in Central Bedfordshire,
From Banbury & Bicester Silverstone in the west to Bedford in the east,
From Northampton in the north to Luton in the south,
From Daventry in the north west to Aylesbury in the south west …
and here Milton Keynes where we meet tonight the arts, heritage, cultural, creative and sporting sectors and the visitor economy are alive and growing
SEMLEP has strong links with distinctive nationally and internationally renown universities - the Universities of Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Bucks New University, Open University, Buckingham and Cranfield our schools, 10 FE/Sixth Form colleges and new UTCs at Silverstone, Daventry, Central Bedfordshire all with access to new ideas and skills talent of importance to the arts, heritage, cultural, creative and sporting sectors and the visitor economy.
In SEMLEP you will find over 5000 creative and cultural enterprises with a combined turnover of £1.3 billion, employing 28,000 people with an additional 18,000 people engaged on a freelance basis or operating as sole traders
And SEMLEP has a soaring visitor economy with the area welcoming over 53 million visitors in 2012, - 10 million more than in 2011. A visitor economy that supports over 60,000 jobs
And this is before IF 2014 and the Rugby World Cup in 2015 – and that’s just 2 major national and international events in MK
You will be relieved to know I am not going to spend the rest of the evening listing all that is going on – or is planned to go on across the SEMELP area.
What I will conclude with is a summary of what I believe are the ingredients for this success and why I am optimistic that SEMLEP and all the organisations involved in the arts, heritage, cultural, creative and sporting sectors and the visitor economy will flourish over the next decade if these conditions continue to prevail
- world class professional artistic cultural and sporting ambition and leadership combined with local knowledge, understanding and a commitment to collaboration (Anthony Spira at MKG Mike Keane at MKT Monica Ferguson at The Stables and IF, Pete Winkelman and John Cove MK Dons and Marian Livingstone at MKCO)
- bold and forward thinking civic leadership, local authority officers with a passion for the arts, heritage, cultural, creative and sporting sectors and the visitor economy who fight for adoption of the strategies and polices that demonstrate the value of these sectors to the community as well as the economy
- dedicated shrieval and lieutenancy support from across the counties of Buckinghamshire Northamptonshire Bedfordshire and Oxfordshire
- a coordinated approach to destination management across the LEP, with joined up DMOs and plans that acknowledge the differences between individual places across the LEP area and work together to promote these collaboratively on behalf of each other and the region as a whole
- a business community and private individuals prepared to back the arts, heritage, cultural, creative and sporting sectors and the visitor economy with their own philanthropy and investment
- a creative industries sector that uses clustering effectively to punch above its weight nationally and grow market share rather than simply competing for business locally
- a LEP that wants to play a leading role in bringing together the key players, helping broker partnerships with Arts Council England, Visit England, making innovative connections and networks, leveraging funding form Europe and other sources and adding value to the terrific work that is taking place
I believe if we have all this - and maybe some other ingredients I’ve not thought of - we have in SEMLEP and in its constituent parts - a rare crucible of innovation talent and creativity that could see the arts, heritage, cultural, creative and sporting sectors and the visitor economy double in size over the next decade and maybe, who knows, a LEP that will host the next place to be European Capital of Culture in 2023
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