We are very excited by the news that Cornwall Council has voted in favour of a bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023. As a cultural tourism programme it is our core mission to promote Cornwall as a place for the arts and heritage and introduce new audiences to all the wonderful things happening here. We have fought hard against stiff national competition to be one of the first Arts Council and Visit England Cultural Destinations and this designation recognised both the quality of our theatre, visual art, museums and heritage but also that there was the necessary infrastructure, communication and support networks to keep growing that cultural offer – much of it provided by Cornwall Council. It was also an endorsement of the huge economic impact that Cornwall’s tourism & cultural industries bring to the region and in the potential for further growth by working together.
Over the last two years we have been travelling the length and breadth of Cornwall talking to communities about their towns and villages and can confirm – in case you hadn’t noticed – that Culture is thriving! From the tiny feast days and folk nights in pubs to the world class performances, collections, exhibitions and the UK’s largest UNESCO world heritage site, there really is something for everyone, every day of the year. But we have also uncovered stories that demonstrate the significant social value of culture in communities.
We heard from the businesses who were brought together in order to make an event happen who now regularly collaborate and co-operate. We heard how schools’ programmes connect parents to their children’s learning and can boost the whole family’s confidence and we learned how communities can dramatically change their perception of their hometown by getting involved in a cultural happening. Most significantly and the easiest theme to identify across communities in Cornwall was the idea that culture brings joy. We’ve seen people’s faces light up, heard the passion in their voices, listened to stories of how being involved keeps them sane, stops them being lonely or frightened, gives them confidence and makes them feel alive. These are hugely important benefits which we must value and protect alongside other vital public services.
If you are feeling uncertain about the benefits of European Capital of Culture or have family, friends or colleagues who are asking searching questions, try looking at our infographics above or any of our Shining Examples in our Toolkit as well as following these links which demonstrate why this matters.