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'Culture is at the heart of the regeneration': Launch of new vision is hailed

PUBLISHED: 09:58 17 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:45 17 October 2019

Stephen Baker, chief executive at East Suffolk Council opens the conference. Pictures: Kate Ellis

Stephen Baker, chief executive at East Suffolk Council opens the conference. Pictures: Kate Ellis

© Kate Ellis

A new vision is aiming to deliver further cultural opportunities for people living in and visiting a coastal town.

It comes as the first ever Cultural Strategy for Lowestoft was launched at a 'Celebrating Culture on the Edge' event at the Seagull Theatre in Pakefield.

More than 100 people heard from a series of guest speakers - including Arts Council England, Historic England and the chief executive of East Suffolk Council Stephen Baker - at the special launch event last Thursday, October 10.

Kerry Blair, Head of Operations at East Suffolk Council talks about the First Light Festival at the conference. Pictures: Kate EllisKerry Blair, Head of Operations at East Suffolk Council talks about the First Light Festival at the conference. Pictures: Kate Ellis

Here the new five-year vision - The Lowestoft Cultural Strategy - was unveiled to "help transform the town into a vibrant and energised town" with every resident enjoying and taking part in arts, culture and heritage.

Celebrating Culture on the Edge, A New Dawn is part of the Great Places, Making Waves Together scheme.

Graphic recording artist Rebecca Osborne relayed the comments of the speakers during the conference through a special piece of artwork. Pictures: Kate EllisGraphic recording artist Rebecca Osborne relayed the comments of the speakers during the conference through a special piece of artwork. Pictures: Kate Ellis

It is about Lowestoft being creatively edgy, innovative and reaching new audiences.

With culture at the leading edge of economic growth, this new strategy is aiming to use culture to make communities healthier and more connected, build aspirations in young people and put cultural organisations and creatives at the heart of Lowestoft's growth.

Examples of the "amazing work of the sector" was highlighted at the event, including the Lowestoft Rising Cultural Education Partnership working with schools and cultural groups to ensure that 10,000 children and young people have access to cultural activities.

Emma Butler Smith, the chief executive of the Marina Theatre, provided an insight into the theatre's plans over the next five years, in reaching new audiences and diversifying their programming.

With more than 100 people attending the conference, successes in the cultural sector to date were also showcased - including securing North Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone and the hugely successful First Light Festival, which was attended by 30,000 people.

Graphic recording artist Rebecca Osborne relayed the comments of the speakers during the conference through a special piece of artwork.

Steve Gallant, East Suffolk Council leader said: "East Suffolk Council is absolutely delighted to have played an important role in helping to shape the first ever Cultural Strategy for Lowestoft, alongside our colleagues from the creative and cultural community.

"Culture is hugely important and has far reaching benefits, driving economic growth, boosting the visitor economy and helping deliver health and wellbeing benefits.

"With this in mind, we are committed to working with partners to unlock further investment and deliver more cultural opportunities for people living and visiting the town.

"This will help Lowestoft become a more vibrant and energised place in which to live, work and invest."

Reaction

With the cultural strategy made possible through the work of the Lowestoft Cultural Leadership Group - made up of local, regional and national representatives from the cultural sector - Emma Butler Smith, chief executive at the Marina Theatre, said: "The enthusiasm for regeneration and a feeling of commitment to making Lowestoft a better place to live is really growing.

"Culture is at the heart of the regeneration of any town and the Marina Theatre is proud to be a part of that.

"Every movement must start somewhere, and the Cultural Strategy is a great launchpad for what's to come."

Alice Taylor, mayor of Lowestoft, said: "Last year's brilliant First Light Festival successfully put the best of Lowestoft front and centre for all to see.

"Now we have news that it's coming back, bigger and better!

"Lowestoft Town Council will continue its work as an active partner to deliver cultural opportunities to the town, especially sustainable and environmentally-friendly events and uses for the Town Hall, parks, and all of the many Lowestoft Town Council assets."

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