A cultural enquiry for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Shaping a new creative future by looking at the role culture plays in people’s lives and exploring the opportunity for a long-term cultural vision for all our communities.

Three Councils, two Universities, a Local Enterprise Partnership, a Symphony Orchestra and a major venue have come together, supported by Arts Council England to develop a long-term vision for Culture at the heart of the UK’s newest City Region.

The leading figures from Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Councils, Arts University Bournemouth (AUB), Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth University, Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre for the Arts and Arts Council England (ACE) today (24 January) launched a public Cultural Enquiry. The Enquiry will look at the role that culture plays in people’s lives and the opportunity for a long-term cultural vision at the heart of communities in the new City Region covering Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole (BCP) unitary authority, which comes into existence on 1 April 2019.

Following a rigorous tendering process, Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy, the leading internationally renowned UK based consultancy for the creative economy, have been engaged to undertake the Cultural Enquiry.


Janet Walton Chairman of BCP Council Shadow Authority said:

“The Cultural Enquiry will generate a new energy and interest for culture across the entire area that is soon to be served by BCP Council. This will highlight the value of culture and show us putting it at the heart of our thinking.”  


Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England said:

“Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Councils have an exceptional track record of investing in art and culture, which can be seen through the superb range of creative work produced in the region.

The forthcoming local government reorganisation presents a unique chance for culture to be put at the heart of this coastal region’s strategy and further develop its sense of place. We’re proud to be supporting this long-term vision for the new unitary authority and we look forward to seeing the recommendations made, for the future prosperity of BCP.”


Stuart Bartholomew, Principal and Vice Chancellor of Arts University Bournemouth and Chair of the Cultural Partnership said:

“The new authority of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole has a unique and enviable set of cultural assets which have wide community impact. They not only improve broad social well-being, they are major contributors to the economy. This Cultural Enquiry will develop a longer term vision of the role arts and culture can play in social and economic development as well as contributing to the high levels of ambition we share for a new City Region.”


Tom Fleming, Director of the Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy said:

“We are very excited to be undertaking this Cultural Enquiry on behalf of the partnership. For the UK’s newest city region this is a unique opportunity to ensure that culture is positioned at the heart of the area’s future success, contributing to improving the quality of life and quality of place. Our engagement process will range from individual interviews to large, open public events. Culture is for everyone and we will ensure that our work captures as broad a spectrum of voices as possible.”


Background to the enquiry

1. There is huge potential for the arts and culture in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole - the challenge is to realise it. This is entirely achievable for three main reasons. There is widespread public appreciation of arts and culture here. The area is privileged to host top quality blue-chip arts organisations and a vibrant network of artists and performers. There is a strong shared commitment on the part of the key institutions that arts and culture can contribute so much more to our community and its future.

2. The creation of the new council for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole creates a unique opportunity to develop this agenda. There is strong commitment to develop a higher level of ambition for the area. Arts and culture could be a USP for the city and a key part of the new council’s strategy because of the sense of place it can engender.

3. Opportunities arising from the government’s recognition of the vital role of arts and culture in UK plc and its investment in creative industries should be grasped. The potential of the creative industries here to increase productivity and to be a bigger driver of the economy is very significant.

4. The enquiry is being jointly funded by the eight partners, which is being matched by funding from Arts Council England.

Purpose of the enquiry

The purpose of the enquiry will be to engage with the widest range of stake-holders to develop the opportunity for arts and culture in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, building on the great assets that are already here, and to articulate the benefits arts and culture can bring.

The scope of the enquiry includes:

  • Articulation of aspirations which will bring benefits to people, places and business;
  • Setting a clear and ambitious direction of travel;
  • Definition of a framework for investment over 10 – 15 years within which diverse ambitions can be realised;
  • Confirmation of the strengths of the area and the developments underway;
  • Opening up thinking about what art and culture is and the role it plays and can play in the lives of people and businesses here;
  • The contribution that arts and culture can make to a distinctive identity for the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area;
  • Exploring and explaining how investment in arts and culture can generate the benefits aspired to here e.g. economic growth, health and well-being, educational attainment, community development etc;
  • Identifying ways of quantifying economic and social benefits from investment in arts and culture;
  • Develop ideas about what a campaign for arts and culture might look like including key messages;
  • Exploration of the opportunities for public and private funding that could contribute to the framework for investment.


Timescale for the enquiry:

  • Launch the Enquiry – 24th January 2019
  • Engagement with stakeholders – January to May 2019
  • Interim report – June 2019
  • Final report – October 2019 

Find out more on the #culturalenquiry2019 website.

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