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West Midlands Levelling Up Growth Prospectus


The Challenge

The West Midlands holds some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country — 49% of neighbourhoods are in the 20% most deprived neighbourhoods of the Index of Multiple Deprivation. This correlates with low levels of participation in publicly funded arts and culture, due to lack of choice and opportunity. 

Our West Midlands Cultural Sector Research project found that over 50% (1.2 million) of people in the region have very limited access to publicly funded cultural facilities, and therefore have a very limited choice in terms of taking part in cultural activities — in some areas this was as high as 71%.

These areas often have low levels of existing cultural infrastructure and have not benefited from public support for arts and culture in the past, meaning that nearly 2 million people are missing out on the positive benefits of culture.

The Prize

We’ve recently hosted several major cultural events including the 2022 Commonwealth Games and Coventry UK City of Culture. Investment into these activities has given us the platform to create a legacy and restore a sense of community, local pride and belonging –as well as boost the attractiveness of the region for private investment and growth.

Progress So Far…

The Birmingham 2022 Festival, one of the largest ever cultural programmes to surround the Commonwealth Games, saw the region’s creativity and diversity celebrated across nine incredible festival sites and over 200 events, showcasing dance, music, workshops, parties and more.

Likewise, Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture will leave a lasting impact on both the city and the region, with figures showing that live and online audiences of just over one million experienced more than 700 events.

Furthermore, the WMCA already has a demonstrable track record in supporting cultural sector-specific initiatives, as well as creative industries through the work with Create Central and the successful delivery of the Government’s Creative Scale Up Programme pilot.


"It is essential that we build on the investment already made to the major cultural events in the West Midlands to ensure the learning & opportunities can be shared across the region. Whilst our region has a rich and diverse cultural heritage, opportunities to engage are currently not equitable which means people are missing out on the benefits that arts & culture can provide including wellbeing, volunteering, skills development and pride of place. Arts, culture and heritage must play a key role in how we level up our places." - Martin Sutherland OBE, Chair of the, WMCA Cultural Leadership Board


Levelling Up Mission:

By 2030, pride in place, such as people’s satisfaction with their town centres and engagement in local culture and community, will have risen in every area of the UK, with the gap between top performing and other areas closing.


Our Proposal

The creation of a £15 million WM Levelling Up Culture Legacy Fund – giving us the best possible opportunity to deliver the ‘Pride of Place’ levelling up mission. The key parts of this fund are:

  • The West Midlands Culture and Place Programme – working together with regional and national stakeholders to create a clear regional vision, and a delivery plan to ensure we achieve a lasting legacy from major cultural events;
  • The Cultural Infrastructure DevelopmentProgramme – developing a strategic pipeline of key cultural and heritage projects, as well as helping projects with pre-planning and feasibility, so they can then be put forward for larger investment opportunities;
  • Cultural corridors/action zones as geographically defined areas in which investment is aimed to deliver culture/heritage-led regeneration and social value outcomes.

What We Hope to Achieve

If there is investment to cement their legacy, major cultural events have the potential to be transformational projects. 

The West Midlands Levelling Up Culture Legacy Fund is, therefore, key to unlocking the wider regional benefits and ensuring that our residents can feel proud of where they live and have opportunities to engage with culture and lead fulfilling lives. Outcomes include:

  • Increased social capital;
  • Improved social cohesion, measured by the percentage of adults who agree that their local area (regional) is a place where people from different backgrounds get on well together, in line with the WM OutcomesFramework;
  • Improved personal well-being in life satisfaction, in line with the WM OutcomesFramework;
  • Increased pride in place and civic participation, in line with the WMOutcomes Framework;
  • Increased and better-measured cultural engagement;
  • Bringing underused spaces and buildings back to life;
  • Increased footfall in town centres;
  • Enhanced local place economies, including growth of creative and cultural businesses associated with good quality training and employment opportunities;
  • More resilient and connected local cultural ecologies.