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August 2019
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Call for volunteers to supercharge our vibrant cultural and creative economy

L-R: Pictured at the Birmingham, Sandwell and Westside Jazz Festival are Cultural Leadership Board chair and Coventry City of Culture chief executive Martin Sutherland, Milda Stasaityte from jazz band The Schwings, Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and Remigijus Rancys from The Schwings

Local people from all backgrounds and representatives from cultural organisations across the region are being sought to help drive forward the West Midlands’ vibrant culture and creative economy.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has opened applications today to join its new Cultural Leadership Board. Residents and cultural organisations will lead the Board with support from topic experts and local authorities.

The aim is to link up organisations and residents across the West Midlands to maximise culture’s contribution to this young and diverse region and ensure all groups are empowered to lead, create and participate in cultural activities.

The newly appointed chair of the Board is Martin Sutherland, chief executive of Coventry City of Culture.

He said: “Culture has the power to bring communities together, stimulate economic growth, challenge accepted ideas and improve everyone’s quality of life.

“We are so lucky in the West Midlands to have a rich and diverse cultural sector that brims with talent, entrepreneurialism and creativity. But we also recognise that increased investment and support for the sector is vital to sustain the successes and create new opportunities across the region.

“With both the City of Culture and Commonwealth Games on the horizon, we seek to bring together residents and grass-roots organisations, and our region’s major institutions, funders and supporters to create a WMCA Cultural Leadership Board and we are now looking for board members who can help supercharge the cultural economy, to everyone’s benefit.

“All those who recognise the role that culture can play in enhancing all our lives – creatives, pioneers, innovators, activists, audiences and investors are encouraged to apply. We look forward to hearing from you.”

Cllr Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council and WMCA new portfolio lead for Culture and Digital, said: “Cultural activities have many economic and social benefits. These include increasing tourism, improving the perception of local areas, and enhancing community cohesion and wellbeing.

“Each year, more than three-quarters of adults in the West Midlands take part in cultural activities, including music, theatre and visual arts.

“However, some groups are under-represented, including young people. A key part of the Board’s work will be to identify more opportunities for these groups to get involved. I am delighted that organisations like Beatfreeks and the Positive Youth Foundation are committed to working with the Board and the new Young Combined Authority to achieve this aim.”

Amerah Saleh, general manager of Beatfreeks’ youth engagement agency, Young Giant said: “I am excited to know that young people are a priority in making sure that they are around the tables and have an influence on decisions. We are an incredible region because of our wide range of voices, it is a breath of fresh air to know young people are influencing more and more on aspects of life that affect them directly.”

Welcoming the launch of the Cultural Leadership Board, Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “The West Midlands is experiencing a renaissance and we need to make sure that economic development is partnered with diverse cultural offers for residents.

“In transport investment, housing developments and when reviving our high streets there is so much that can be done but it needs to be led by the experts and the local community.”

The Cultural Leadership Board has been set up to:

  • Maximise the contribution of culture to deliver clean and inclusive growth in the region
  • Encourage an accessible, sustainable, entrepreneurial and diverse cultural sector
  • Support collaboration to enhance effectiveness and efficiency
  • Explore the potential for new approaches to funding.

Members will be recruited on an open basis from the following two groups:

  • Local residents from across the region, particularly from less well served groups such as young people; and
  • Representatives from cultural organisations specialising in strategy, delivery and funding.

They will be supported by:

  • Experts who are delivering on the WMCA’s key priorities, including health and wellbeing, inclusive growth, inward investment, regeneration and transport; and
  • Local authorities.

Anyone who would like to join the Cultural Leadership Board should fill in this expression of interest form. The deadline for applications is 30 August 2019.

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