Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Public Say How They Want to Roll Back the Frontiers

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Public Say How They Want to Roll Back the Frontiers

Article excerpt

Middlesbrough Council has launched its new cultural action plan.

Entitled 'Creative Frontiers', the plan has been described as ""a powerful tool in Middlesbrough's development and growth" by the North-east regional chief of the Arts Council, Andrew Dixon.

The action plan sets out the council's plans for developing cultural activities to 2007. It covers a range of cultural activities - from sport to public art; from community festivals, such as the successful Mela, to fashion and publishing; from animation to literature and local history.

The council received more than 2,200 responses from the public and people working in the local creative industries at consultation events held when the plan was being prepared. Feedback included what people thought were barriers to participating in cultural activities, and barriers to cultural development. Graduates, artists and sports people drifting away from the area was one area of concern.

The vision set out in 'Creative Frontiers' sees Middlesbrough as "a centre for innovation and excellence in contemporary visual arts and crafts".

"Sporting ambition and achievement will feature highly in the town's future - football, swimming, athletics and roller sports being current areas of excellence."

The vision also foresees "a vibrant town centre" with "a comprehensive portfolio of restaurants, cafes, live music venues and cultural retail."

'Flagship' projects identified in the vision include the new public art gallery and public square, the proposed refurbishment of the Town Hall as a leading cultural venue, and the Digital City to be developed at Middlehaven by the University of Teesside.

The action plan aims to develop and strengthen the creative and cultural industries in Middlesbrough highlighting the need for training, networking, grants and taking ideas to the market place. This is intended to encourage graduates in the creative and cultural industries to stay on here.

Introducing new cultural opportunities into Middlesbrough neighbourhoods is a priority identified in the plan. This will be done by the council joining forces with other partners and agencies. 'Culture Sites' could be set up in the town, perhaps using spare capacity in schools, leisure centres, social clubs and libraries. These would be a focus for cultural activities where local work and artists can be showcased.

Councillors David Budd and Bob Kerr have been closely involved in preparing the action plan and said: "Cultural development is key to the regeneration of the town; harnessing the energy, enthusiasm, skills and talents of our diverse communities is central to this. They encourage us to communicate, to develop new skills and self-esteem and to generate local pride through our common endeavours and achievements."

Copies of the cultural action plan are available from Juliet Farrar, Cultural Services Development Manager at Middlesbrough Council on (01642) 729019. …

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