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Summit hears how ‘culture can drive the Tees Valley economy’

Scores of cultural, business and civic leaders have met at Teesside University to discuss how to drive forward the Tees Valley economy through the innovative use of arts and culture.

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Pictured L-R - Sarah Maxfield, Sandy Anderson OBE and Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Henderson CBE DL

Pictured L-R - Sarah Maxfield, Sandy Anderson OBE and Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Henderson CBE DL


Scores of cultural, business and civic leaders have met at Teesside University to discuss how to drive forward the Tees Valley economy through the innovative use of arts and culture.

The Culture and Economic Development Summit, which was co-organised by the University, the area’s Local Enterprise Partnership: Tees Valley Unlimited and Culture North East explored the ways in which culture – including the arts, heritage and Tees Valley’s vibrant creative industries - can support the attraction of inward investment, job creation, economic growth and social cohesion and wellbeing.

Delegates – which included representatives from all five of the Tees Valley’s local authorities of Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland, and Stockton, as well as private sector businesses and culture bodies and visitor attractions - heard from organisations including Arts Council England, the North-East Cultural Partnership, and Tees Valley Unlimited and took part in workshop discussions to trigger further collaboration and partnerships.

Teesside University Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Henderson CBE DL spoke of the University’s involvement with mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, and how the two organisations can develop the area’s cultural aspects.

He said: 'We are hoping the University’s work with mima will encompass the cultural assets that are fundamental to the area.

‘We want to make sure residents, both students and the local community, take part in the activities we set up.

'If we want people to invest in our town, having a good cultural environment will encourage them to do that.'

Sandy Anderson OBE, Chairman of the Board at Tees Valley Unlimited, echoed Professor Henderson’s enthusiasm by saying that Teesside needed to look to the future in order to embrace new ideas.

He added: 'Teesside has always had a strong industrial base. However, over the years it has become too over-dependent on this. We need to concentrate on the digital age for future growth.

'To improve the Tees Valley we need to see the growth of existing businesses and the development of new enterprise.

'In terms of this development, Teesside University is the key player, and therefore the main driver for cultural change in Middlesbrough.'

Sarah Maxfield from Arts Council England said the north of England had become the flagship area of the country in terms of using culture to drive the economy.

She said: 'If I had to stress one thing though, I would say that it’s not the money that comes first. It’s the ideas and the vision and the enthusiasm that come first.

'This event is part of that. Organisations like local authorities and the University are pushing that conversation.'

Other speakers included David Budd, Chairman of the North-East Cultural Partnership, and John Orchard, Director of Marchday Plc, who spoke about Lingfield Point, a mixed-use development on the outskirts of Darlington which is using the arts as a key driver to regenerate a former wool factory into one of the UK’s most distinctive and innovative business parks.

Proposals to be taken forward for further exploration included the creation, or reestablishment of, a Tees Valley-wide cultural network to deliver cross-promotion and marketing support plus joint-bidding for funding and joint planning and scheduling of events and activities.

26 June 2014

In the News

Summit hears how culture can drive Teesside's economy
Gazette Live - Online, 30/06/14
Scores of cultural, business and civic leaders have met at Teesside University to discuss how to drive forward Teesside’s economy through the innovative use of arts and culture.

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