The Arts Council and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have supported the creation of 20 Cultural Compacts nationally. One of these is known as The Bay Cultural Compact.
These Compacts are partnerships designed to support the local cultural and creative sector and enhance its contribution to an area’s economic, social, health and educational development.
The Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region (LSCER) was one of only two “rural” areas in the UK to be accepted by the Arts Council as an area to develop a Cultural Compact.
The joint submission by South Lakeland District Council, Lancaster City Council and Barrow Borough Council was approved by DCMS as part of a national pilot and was an early success for the three councils’ cross boundary partnership working, aiming to attract more investment and employment to support economic growth in the Morecambe Bay area.
The councils have engaged specialist advisors The Fifth Sector and Rule of Threes to support the development of The Bay Cultural Compact business plan and convene a Bay Cultural Compact Partnership.
They will help to formulate an ambitious programme that will set the direction for The Bay Cultural Compact over the next five years, developing the area’s role as a “cultural and creative powerhouse’’ and identifying culture and creative sectors – already the UK’s largest growth business area - as a “catalyst for transformation and change.’’
Focussing on one of the LSCER’s key themes – Culture, Creative, and Visitor Economy – The Bay Cultural Compact will harness and look to develop the potential of the combined area’s natural and cultural landscape and assets.
This includes the proposed Eden Project North, the Lake District World Heritage Site and capital developments of Windermere Jetty and Wordsworth Grasmere in South Lakeland, the development of Barrow’s Creative People and Places and the Islands and Bays of Barrow and Furness programmes and the redevelopment of the Canal Quarter in Lancaster embracing the Dukes Theatre and Ludus Dance.
Following the successful Cultural Compact award Alison Clark, the Arts Council's Director for the North region, said: "We believe that arts and culture play an essential role in improving lives and wellbeing, developing communities and unlocking the economic potential for towns and cities.
“The collaboration between Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region (LSCER) will build effective networks across a broad range of partners and we look forward to the impact the Cultural Compact will bring."
The Bay Cultural Compact Partnership will bring together private, voluntary, and public organisations with representatives from industry, business, tourism, education, health, cultural, creative, voluntary and community sectors to work with the councils on the programme.
Originally intended to operate across cities, DCMS officials are interested to see if the Cultural Compact idea can work with a rural model and the successful joint submission demonstrates the effectiveness of the LSCER partnership.
Lancaster City Council, South Lakeland District Council and Barrow Borough Council are working together through the LSCER Joint Committee to create a new ‘economic powerhouse for the north’ around Morecambe Bay.
The partnership’s business prospectus was launched in June 2019 and the three councils agree that working together will build on their collective strengths in areas such as energy, advanced manufacturing, digital technologies, life sciences, health innovation, higher education, culture and the visitor economy, by encouraging public and private sector investment, building aspiration and growing local skills to create opportunities which deliver improved productivity, prosperity and inclusive growth.
The wider Morecambe Bay economic area is already the sixth best performing in the North West, and growing, with a combined Gross Value Added (GVA) of £7 billion.
The area has the third-fastest growing economy in the UK and it is the fastest growing coastal economy, with a nine per cent projected increase in population and jobs.
Council leaders say the three council areas represent a “rural, world-class functioning economic area” where there are strong employment, education and family links and where 96 per cent of the resident labour force works in the area and 75 per cent of all house moves take place within the region.
The three councils submitted a proposal to Government in December 2020 for The Bay area to be considered for a new Unitary authority as part of a wider reorganisation of local government in Cumbria.