Arts and culture can contribute to local economic growth. Arts Council England wants to support this because it adds to the value that arts and culture have within local and national life and because it makes the sector more sustainable through demonstrating that value and by securing a basis for sector growth. We are working with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and key strategic bodies supporting local economies to create the Creative Local Growth Fund (CLGF).
The fund seeks to put arts and culture at the heart of growth plans by:
– securing long term partnership between LEPs, the Arts Council and other local partners to support the cultural sector;
– helping to leverage European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs) – particularly the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – investment within the LEP area into the cultural sector; and
– investing in new approaches to achieve these objectives, while at the same time developing learning that can inform policy and practice.
Arts Council England has invested a total of £3.8m into the CLGF (with the total fund value of around £8.6m with match funding) and funded 9 projects across largescale areas (e.g. county or greater city/metropolitan areas). Most projects have a three-year timescale running from April 2016 to March 2019, with a couple of projects due to finish in March 2020. Many projects have had a delayed start due to the result of the referendum on UK membership of the European Union.
Arts Council England are commissioning an external evaluation of CLGF to assess the fund against the 3 main aims of the programme as mentioned above. We expect the evaluation to additionally explore whether the fund has:
– Met its aims to deliver and support local economic priorities through arts & cultural investment
– Established new partnerships locally and nationally
We would also expect the evaluation to explore barriers to and support for change, observable differences between rural and urban places and lessons learnt about place-based investment and economic outcomes.
An evaluation framework for the programme-level evaluation was developed in June 2018 and we expect the evaluator to respond to this framework in their approach. As two projects don’t finish until March 2020, we are asking for an interim report in December 2019 and for the final report to be completed by June 2020. We would expect the interim findings to be a substantial part of the final report, with a focus on support for and barriers to change and learning about place-based investment.