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Northern culture must be at the heart of post-pandemic recovery to truly level up

Northern culture must be at the heart of post-pandemic recovery to truly level up
3 min read

Culture connects people and communities like nothing else.

When we think of the north, an array of cultural iconography springs to mind: the Angel of the north, the sculpture of Henry Moore, the music of Manchester, the art of Sheffield, the film and television shows produced in Yorkshire, and all the amazing community cultural projects that grow from across northern cities, city regions, coastal and countryside communities. Unfortunately, the north’s cultural landscape has been hit harder than most by the pandemic.

For the first time, northern MPs, regional mayors, local authorities and cultural leaders have come together to make the case for northern culture. The Northern Culture APPG’s levelling up inquiry gathered written and oral evidence from over a hundred artists, creators, actors, musicians, Parliamentarians and political leaders from across the north to answer a central question: What does northern culture need to rebuild, rebalance and recover?

For the first time, the north has come together as one to champion its rich cultural tapestry

With the Levelling Up White Paper around the corner and the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee opening a new inquiry into “cultural placemaking and the levelling up agenda”, we are excited that, today, the Northern Culture APPG is launching its case for culture report. Its findings, recommendations and 10-point action plan make it clear that northern culture must be embedded at the heart of the Levelling Up White Paper as the key to post-pandemic recovery – not left behind.

The real power of this report is that it has achieved cross-party consensus and support from MPs and peers across the north and that our recommendations have been forged from the wealth of evidence we heard and received from all parts of the north’s cultural sector. For the first time, the north has come together as one to champion its rich cultural tapestry.

The north has a proud history and heritage. Culture connects the north and the pandemic has reminded us that place and participation matters now more than ever. The challenge is to preserve what we have and create new culture, as well as ensuring that culture is by all, and for all, going forward.

We believe that the Northern Culture APPG Inquiry recommendations represent a significant milestone for all those who live, work, rest and play in the north. Our report makes the case for culture and sets out clearly what northern culture needs to level up.

Taken together, our findings and recommendations map a bold post-pandemic pathway to recovery and sustainable growth for northern culture. The north could easily become a leader in sustainable cultural production and consumption and sustainability needs, to become a central tenant of any post-Covid UK cultural sector.

We know that northern culture makes a huge contribution to the UK economy and now is the time for the north to seize this once in a generation opportunity to increase diversity, sustainability, accessibility and resilience in its talent pipeline.

Our case for culture report makes it clear that it is time to maximise the social and economic benefits which stem from our cultural assets and time to tap into the north’s rich seam of talent – if we are to unlock the north’s cultural capital and truly level up.

We all owe parts of ourselves to the culture that made us. This is our chance to invest in culture for the next generation. In doing so, we invest in our regions, our economy and our wellbeing – we invest in ourselves and our country – and begin to generate the opportunities and solutions that will define the post-Covid world.


James Daly is the Conservative MP for Bury North. Julie Elliott is the Labour MP for Sunderland Central. They are co-chairs of the Northern Culture APPG.

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