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Why culture matters

Why we should be proud of our culture and heritage

Arts, heritage and culture matter. They can help us to make sense of our lives, support our wellbeing, help us to understand others, as well as provide an opportunity to express our individual creativity. They are vital to skills development and can improve the attractiveness of our cities and towns, making residents feel better about the places they live and work in.

They also matter in economic terms:

  • The economic footprint of our cultural sector (excluding film, television and wider creative industries) is £1.1 billion.
  • It is estimated that the sector directly supports over 24,000 jobs, with a further 22,700 jobs supported indirectly.
  • A total of 28 million tourism visits to the WMCA area are attributable to culture
  • £2.8 billion of West Midlands visitor spend is 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.

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.

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 and 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.

WMCA has published a series of Cultural prospectuses, which set out the importance of culture in more detail: