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West Midlands Culture and Place


West Midlands has more parks than Paris, more canals than Venice and the most Michelin stars outside of London.

We’re not just the birthplace of Peaky Blinders but home to world class museums, galleries, theatres, exhibition centres and cinemas. We gave you Shakespeare, heavy metal, Cluedo, Lord of the Rings, bhangra, Lenny Henry, the Doctor Who theme tune and so much more. The West Midlands is a creative powerhouse with a melting pot of diverse culture. There are many sides to the West Midlands, and we have our own story to tell.

Now is the time for West Midlands to shine.

Adding value to our places and attracting visitors

We now have enough evidence to show that hard infrastructure alone will not make much of a difference in a place. Something else is needed beyond just bricks & mortar.

Culture and heritage can play a key role in enhancing the attractiveness of a place. Investment in cultural assets can rejuvenate places, leading to positive economic and social outcomes at a local level. They can help to retain and grow a highly skilled workforce, as well as attract visitors.

 Our region is home to some extraordinary cultural and heritage visitor attractions.

Visitors can step back in time at Shakespeare’s birthplace or the Black Country Living Museum, discover the wonders of the world
at Thinktank and Ikon Gallery or do some
al fresco dancing at Godiva, Made, or Birmingham International Dance festivals.

All of this and more makes the West Midlands a popular tourist destination locally, nationally, and internationally – generating money that enables the sector to thrive and grow.

£2.8 billion of West Midlands visitor spend is attributable to culture.

28 million visits to the region attributable to culture.

1 in 47 jobs in the region supported by cultural tourism.

1 in 5 visitors say culture is primary reason for their visit to the region.

Pride of place

Here in the West Midlands, our cultural infrastructure plays a crucial role in generating pride of place, attracting creative talent and providing opportunities for people & businesses.

Recent data shows that when historic buildings are allowed to fall into disrepair – and many have – this is synonymous with dented civic pride. 

Heritage assets can sometimes be seen as problems and barriers for economic growth. They can however be powerful tools for regenerating left behind areas. Heritage assets include those landmark buildings
in our high streets, valued by the local community and often a huge source of civic pride.

Coventry High Street Heritage Action Zone


Coventry was one of the national demonstrator projects, with the programme focusing on The Burges and Hales Street. This involved refurbishment of shops, bringing back residential accommodation, diversifying the range of retail outlets
and improving public realm. The project has fostered a strong civic pride in historic buildings.

More widely, the programme has boosted Coventry’s image and prosperity by celebrating the city’s outstanding heritage while promoting new investment and development in support of sustainable growth.

Local Growth 

There is an opportunity for the cultural and creative sectors to be involved in bringing new uses and restoring historic high street buildings, as well as helping to amplify the region’s diverse places and identities.

More people want to work flexibly and spend time in less conventional environments such as flexible workspaces. This could provide an opportunity for high streets to reinvent their role, with cultural & creative sectors leading the way. We can create culturally enriched and productive high streets with flexible workspaces and an environment

Photo supplied by West Midlands Growth Company that supports creation, innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship.

However, there are still barriers to overcome. Culture and heritage are still often put in the box of ‘nice to have’ rather than being recognised as the driving forces for regeneration, creating better places for people & businesses.

If we want to ensure the future competitiveness of our region, we need to become better at taking a more holistic approach and increase our ambition.

What next?

West Midlands has a unique opportunity to build on the legacy of major cultural events such as Coventry City of Culture and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games cultural programme.

We must ensure that we use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to futureproof our region and to ensure our young creative talent and businesses can flourish.

To do this we need to:

Better understand the value our cultural and creative sectors bring to our places.

Embed culture and heritage into regeneration practices and bring together all stakeholders to ensure a joined-up approach.

Create new, collaborative ways to develop our heritage assets.

Build on our cultural tourism offer.

Provide the flexibility to test new approaches including new types of spaces, fiscal innovation and land use.

Test zonal approaches and link cultural activities with other sectors and policy areas such as wellbeing, transport, physical activity, economy, tourism, public realm, environment, social economy, skills development and net zero.

Ensure culture and heritage are considered when building new residential areas.

Ensure our region can get the necessary long-term investment to improve our cultural and heritage infrastructure as part of levelling up.

Create a long-term strategic vision and plan at regional level.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands

"Creativity is the driving force of our region. It is reflected in our rich heritage, our diverse cultures, and our entrepreneurial spirit. Our world-class arts & cultural sector is at the core of this, moving us forward, shaping our identity and nurturing the next generation of creative talent. Art & culture help to strengthen our society, bringing communities together, inspiring our young people, and making places more attractive for residents, visitors, and investors."

Anita Bhalla, OBE
Chair, GBSLEP & Chair, B:Music said

“Our cultural and creative sectors are an amazing resource for the West Midlands. They are a key driver of our economy, innovation and competitiveness,
but also provide other value through benefits to our people and our places. There aren’t enough pages to explain the value, benefits and proven impact of our cultural and creative sectors – there are so many sides of the story that deserve to be shared."

Carol King,
WMCA Cultural Leadership Board said

"With sufficient investment and support we can create employment & talent opportunities especially for your young population, boost our economy, and encourage tourism from within our own boundaries to right across the globe. More importantly, we can bring our communities together, uncover hidden talents and continue to put West Midlands on the global map as a leading creative region.”