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Cities should establish tourist tax to fund the arts – report

Nicholas Serota. Photo: Hugh Glendinning Arts Council England chair Nicholas Serota was on the board of the enquiry. Photo: Hugh Glendinning
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A tourist tax that is ring-fenced for culture is one of the recommendations from an independent enquiry looking ways cities can grow their arts offering.

The recommendations also include developing routes into the cultural industries, including apprenticeships, to develop local and diverse talent.

The Cultural Cities Enquiry was chaired by Virgin Money UK chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia and is made up of arts and local authority leaders, including Arts Council England chair Nicholas Serota.

It is jointly funded by Arts Council England, Core Cities UK – an organisation representing 10 UK cities, Key Cities – which represents a group of medium sized cities in the UK, Belfast City Council, Creative Scotland and Arts Council Wales.

The enquiry’s main recommendations are:

  • To create cultural city compacts. These are partnerships between city authorities and business, education, cultural and community leaders which will set out a business plan to improve cultural investment in the area.
  • To increase investment in culture by increasing donations from visitors by adopting contactless technology, supporting smaller cultural organisations to access existing tax relief, establishing a scheme where businesses invest in culture in return for additional tax returns from the government and establishing a tourist levy, which is ring-fenced for culture.
  • For cultural organisations to set diversity targets for their leadership and boards to increase the number of people who benefit from culture.
  • To develop creative talent pathways into the cultural sector, such as apprenticeships or training programmes, to improve the diversity of people entering the industry.
  • To ensure there are buildings in the city centre that are available for cultural use through a variety of methods – including prioritising cultural activity in city spacial plans.

Gadhia said: “Our aim in undertaking this enquiry was to help cities across the UK to unlock the full potential of culture to promote thriving communities and drive economic growth.

“Smart investment, innovation and collaboration are at the heart of our proposals to radically increase the ability of cities to use arts and culture to maximise the social and economic benefits of a city’s culture for everyone.”

Serota added: “Culture makes a vital contribution to these activities, while the creative industries are our fastest growing business sector. This report shows how we can make best use of our cities’ cultural assets to build strong communities for the future.”

Read the full report

Government creates £20m fund to replicate Hull City of Culture effect

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