Published: 29 November 2022
- New council funding will be dedicated to cultural projects over the next four years.
- Budget will widen access to the world-leading cultural offer in Westminster, attract visitors and enable partners to deliver arts activities in our communities.
- Arts organisations, schools and community centres can bid for up to £10k of funding to deliver arts projects that provide wellbeing and participatory benefits
Westminster City Council has launched a new £1.8 million budget to fund cultural projects in the city. The budget will be allocated over four years and will help fund a range of projects that will make culture more accessible to residents and visitors.
The council aims to break down social and economic barriers by extending free cultural opportunities to those facing financial hardship, young people, over 65s, ethnic minority groups, people with disabilities and experiencing social isolation.
Within the budget is a new annual Culture and Community Grants Programme, which invites local organisations and schools to bid for up to £10k of funding to help deliver community-based projects. This will support local artists and cultural organisations, following a time of unprecedented crisis, to use their knowledge and expertise to work with the local community.
The budget will also fund a series of ongoing projects such as Inside Out, Westminster City Council’s award-winning cultural festival to welcome residents and visitors back into Central London through a series of outdoor art activities, which attracted more than 250,000 visitors in 2021. Funding will also be used to continue the council’s successful City Lions programme, which provides cultural enrichment and skills training for residents aged 13-16; and for other projects such as heritage trail walking tours and Westminster’s participation in the annual Open House Festival.
The arts and culture sector plays a huge role in Westminster’s economy. 27 per cent of all jobs in London in music, performing and visual arts are based in Westminster. Tourism generates £18.6bn in London and research shows 80 per cent of tourists give culture as their main reason for visiting the capital. Westminster’s new cultural fund will help our exceptional local partners take the arts out into the streets and community settings, to create a more vibrant and inclusive local offer.
Councillor Tim Roca, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Young People, Learning and Leisure, said:
“I’m very excited to announce this new cultural budget that will fund a range of projects across Westminster. This new funding will bring culture directly into our communities and provide a boost for Westminster’s thriving arts scene which attracts so many visitors each year.
“Westminster is the centre of culture at the very heart of London, with a huge variety of world class theatre productions and some of the nation’s most cherished art collections, museums, and cultural institutions. We want to ensure that residents from all backgrounds can enjoy the rich and diverse cultural highlights that Westminster has to offer, and be able to participate in new cultural projects in their local communities.”
Jack Gamble, Director of the Campaign for the Arts, said:
"It's fantastic news that Westminster City Council is boosting its investment in culture. Especially at a time of major economic and mental health challenges, councillors are right to unlock the huge potential of the arts to enrich lives, communities and local businesses. As a direct result of their investment, many more people will be able to share in the joy, prosperity and opportunity that the arts and culture bring - and that's good for everyone, in Westminster and beyond."
Claire Walker, Joint CEO of Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre, said:
“Westminster City Council has a long history of supporting our world class theatre and we value the opportunity to work in partnership with them to deliver West End LIVE, a free weekend of musical theatre entertaining thousands in Trafalgar Square. The announcement of this cultural fund is very much welcomed and we look forward to continuing to support the council, sharing its aim to make our theatres as accessible as possible and working with them and Westminster City Lions to develop projects such as Schools Theatre Day and the TKTS booth.”
Lucy Foster, Creative and Community Director at Grand Junction, said:
"The numbers attending our and creative classes, workshops, and performances demonstrate that communities are hungry for cultural and arts experiences, especially when it is on their doorsteps and feels accessible. Time and time again people tell us about the boost to their wellbeing and confidence from taking part. None of this is possible, however, without investment. We are delighted, therefore, that WCC are introducing their Culture and Community Grants programme at such an important time."