In Autumn of 2020, as coronavirus was still getting worse, some people felt it was important to look beyond the pandemic and think about how we might come back together. Culture – music, arts, gardening, knitting, history – is crucial to our recovery.
Peterborough is set to grow fast over the next decade. The new University, the Football Stadium, changes at the station, the new Museum at Must Farm and new housing. Partners also want to make sure Peterborough is celebrated for its cultural vibrancy and excitement, that our energy, creativity and heritage attract people. We want the city to be somewhere people want to live, study, work and invest.
Some of the arts and heritage groups, the Arts Council and the Council partnered together to commission this Strategy. They wanted it to be about the unique strengths of Peterborough, and to recognise the challenges of this last period along with the opportunities of the future. The Steering Group (see the people involved page) is a short term working group. Part of the development of the strategy is create a new, resilient, inclusive approach to cultural development.
What we have been doing
The consultation has deliberately been very open. We asked broad questions and tried to get in touch with a wide range of people who might want to comment. Many conversations are still going on; the Steering Group has been clear that this is a journey. The consultant continues to be available for discussions with groups and individuals who want to become involved, especially given the County of Culture discussions. See the Contact Page for details.
The Steering Group divided the process into three stages.
Phase 2 from January to spring 2021: wide consultation through an online survey and discussions with about 60 different individuals involved in culture, heritage, education, community development and open spaces in Peterborough. Also meetings with several important networks that helped inform specific issues relating to culture.
During this phase, the cultural assets of the City – from music venues to the Cathedral – have been considered. We have looked back at data and surveys from before lockdown and also considered how other places operate.
Phase 3 from April to September 2021: from the consultation in Phase 2, we wanted to look at the more complicated questions and fill in any gaps. We have been working on the following strands:
- 5 artists commissions enabling more creative and reflective engagement with specific communities around questions of heritage, celebration and priorities. These practitioners, led by artist Kate Genever, have worked with young people, South Asian women, rural communities, and networks in Black and Lithuanian communities. Topics have included bereavement, heritage, walking, exclusion, representation, connection, language. The commissions have been presented to CSG and will be presented via a window exhibition in the new centre at the Vine, and you can see them on the Artists Findings page;
- Developing work with heritage networks to seek a new set of connections
- Collecting the views of young people through workshops and interviews about culture in the area. You can see some of those interviews – with new content every week – on the Talking about Peterborough page.
- Emerging work on Visit Peterborough and a model of creating further content from cultural partners
- The business and practitioner networks developed as the steering group for the Café Culture Street Animation Programme, which is both informing the recommendations and is informed by work so far (and the intense phase of work on the proposed Expression of Interest for County of Culture)
- Further research on other places, especially around cultural leadership models
These elements, especially the commissions, the work with young people and the enhanced networking on Café Culture, have put into practice many of the values expressed in the slide deck that came from Phase 1.In the late summer the final recommendations and Action Plan will be drawn up.
Who we have talked to so far
Almost every part of the process has been conducted remotely via video-links and telephones and for almost the entirety of Phases 1 and 2 Peterborough was in Tier 3, 4 or English lockdown. We know that creates some challenges, but we made the best range of contacts possible in the circumstances.
See the ‘Who’s been involved‘ page for more details.