Cheshire was given a huge boost today with recognition from Arts Council England and Visit England that the county should be recognised as a true cultural destination, on a par with other major counties and cities including London, Liverpool and Stratford.
The three unitary authorities, Cheshire East, Warrington, Cheshire West and Chester, will share a £300,000 grant to enable them to work strategically with the tourism sector under the ‘cultural destination’ banner.
With all three borough’s enjoying increasing popularity and a strengthening visitor economy, the successful bid for funding is seen as an injection of faith and confidence in the county’s cultural and tourism industries.
Leader of Cheshire East Council, Rachel Bailey, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded funding to promote Cheshire and Cheshire East as a cultural destination and we look forward to delivering our three-year programme.
“Cheshire already enjoys a visitor economy worth nearly £3bn, while across the county our cultural venues and organisations make a huge contribution to our quality of place and offer many reasons to visit.
“The announcement of cultural destination funding is a real vote of confidence in our strength and potential.
“It will help to support closer working between the two sectors that will contribute to our economic growth through both the cultural and visitor economies.”
Cheshire East Council acted as the lead applicant for the funding pot and the announcement was made by ACE on Tuesday (January 10).
All three authorities were able to prove they had the partnership capacity to meet several criteria.
These included an increase in the numbers and range of people experiencing the arts and culture in local destinations to boost the visitor economy, increased income leading to greater sustainability and resilience for culture and tourism businesses, repositioning of culture as a prominent part of the visitor offer and a commitment from public and private sector partners to continue working in partnership to support cultural tourism.
The bid document set out a number of objectives to strengthen and develop the cultural and visitor offer across the county.
Cheshire East will be the lead accountable body and chair of a consortium to drive forward the development of a cultural and tourism strategy, while Marketing Cheshire will be the destination management organisation tasked with undertaking management of the consortium, delivering agreed activity between partners and the development of branding.
Core partners include Cheshire West and Chester Council, Culture Warrington, Storyhouse, Cheshire Rural touring Arts, Tatton Park and the National Trust. There is also a wider group of delivery partners, including cultural organisations, venues and tourism destinations.
The consortium will determine the annual events programme and how to support venues and organisations to benefit from the wider programme of cultural and tourism activity.