CT Consults

Archive for November, 2017

Cultural Destinations Conference

Posted on: November 17th, 2017 by ctceditor

Big thanks to SS Great Britain and Bristol for hosting a meeting of the 16 cultural destinations projects which are currently live across England. We have had involvement with 10 of them in one way or another – but not all recently and certainly not all at once – so it was great to catch up and find out about the many successes, the shared learning and what the enduring issues are for  cultural tourism.

A Memorandum of Understanding between Arts Council England and Visit England is the starting point for a partnership between two sectors who have much in common but also many differences. On the face of it, it might be hard to see, for example, what the Isles of Scilly have in common with Coventry, but it’s quickly apparent that despite the chasm of difference, that the big needs continue to revolve around raising cultural confidence and distinctiveness; being more joined up to build critical mass and deliver powerful, localised experiences; and how partnership working continues to be hard slog, but worth it, despite the effort it takes especially in capacity-challenged times.

Coming together as a national network is revealing new opportunities and needs, like the need for a stronger visitor research data-set, and the clear opportunity for destinations to work together, rather than territorially, to cross-market nationally.

Image: SS Great Britain, David Noton

How to plan a major ‘Year of…’ at 3 months’ notice

Posted on: November 16th, 2017 by ctceditor

Did you know that 2018 is the official European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH)? Of course not. But it is. The Whitehall mandarins saw the ‘E’ word and said ‘no thank you Jean-Claude’. But that’s not the only national administration we have in our UK, thanks to devolution. And there is one with a direct border to Europe that understandably takes a different view (literally, it’s across a field not the English Channel). So, Northern Ireland (NI) took a look and said, ‘that’s interesting, what could we do with this?’. Following on from our work to develop a heritage tourism framework for NI, we were asked to look at this question, made all the more challenging by it being autumn 2017 already. But with the help of the culture and heritage communities across NI, we assessed what could be achieved in 2018, but much more importantly what could happen after that. Yes, legacy, but more than that – taking the opportunity to change how cultural heritage can operate at a national level. Our recommendations are bold but deliverable, and the results will be fascinating – just stick around a few years to see them.

Image: Game of Thrones location tours

Manchester Cultural Destinations Programme

Posted on: November 8th, 2017 by ctceditor

Even we need reminding from time to time of the astounding journey that Manchester has been on in its development as a cultural destination. Earlier this month we were pleased to join the Tourism Management Institute leading some ‘culture’ tours and speaking on building a cultural destination at their annual conference held in Manchester – providing plenty of opportunities for pride, review and reflection. Our connections with the city run back an incredible 30 years.

On the whole Manchester is doing great guns. Still 3rd most visited city in the UK (after London and Edinburgh) with culture shooting up the leader-board as the reason why visitors are coming.

It’s never good to be complacent though, and together with Marketing Manchester and the Cultural Destinations Steering Group we acknowledge there is still much to be done.

We have learned a lot this Autumn chatting with International Travel Operators about what they think the city has to offer their fully independent traveller (FIT) markets and how we might reach them. The feedback tells us that football still dominates (of course) and that there is still work to be done on getting Manchester’s cultural messages more synonymous with the city and better known internationally, but the tourism door is most definitely open for more arts and heritage experiences – from collections highlights tours to concerts to festivals and more. We are now taking the findings of those conversations back to our cultural partners in the city to see how we might develop new tourism-friendly bookable product. If we get this right then International Travel Operators will feature Manchester more in their own brochures and itineraries; the city gets more staying visitors; they in turn get to access more of the cultural offer and have a better, more memorable time, and the cultural partners develop new income streams. Win-win-win-win.

Image: HOME, Manchester 

Iceland visit

Posted on: November 6th, 2017 by ctceditor

Iceland is… Björk, right (or The Sugarcubes if you are of a certain age)? Then what? Well, hot spring lagoons, a general party spirit, thunderclaps (you have to love their national football team), glaciers, the Northern Lights and volcanoes, especially that one we can’t pronounce (have a go – Eyjafjallajökull). What else…? Any why would you fly to Reykjavík for a culture/social short break instead of Copenhagen or Gothenburg or Hamburg or Ghent or Cork or…?

Iceland is a youthful (b. 1944) and energetic nation, including as a tourist destination. Its profile has shot up and it’s almost a victim of its own success. It’s 3/4 the size of England, but with a population closer to that of Wakefield. They take a lead in some really interesting areas of tourism – peace tourism, and environmental tourism spring to mind – but they also have a fabulously rich cultural offer that is less well-known and less well-developed for the international market. They are inventing new ways to work and developing rapidly as a result, and that means that things can get done, innovation embraced, new stuff tried. That’s where we come in.

As part of a research project, supported by NATA (North Atlantic Tourism Association), we are working with the key agencies in Iceland, Denmark and the Faroe Islands, exploring these opportunities, with our Nordic Associate Ingi Thor of Nordic Intercultural Creative Events (NICE). So far, there is plenty of support for more, and smarter cultural tourism development. The sessions and workshops we’ve led have brought us into contact with some wonderful people. The Icelandic strand of Nordic culture derives from its place at the very edge of Europe, and it is arguably the edgiest. Perfect for experience-hungry UK culturally-motivated travellers. We’ll report in full early next year.

Image: Reykvavik – Harpa concert hall

Recommends – UNESCO City of Literature

Posted on: November 1st, 2017 by ctceditor

Manchester has been at it again. This time it has secured the grand title UNESCO City of Literature. And these awards are not given away. Manchester is in good company – including Baghdad, Dublin, Barcelona, Prague, Melbourne, and Reykjavík. Is Manchester that literary? It built the UK’s first public lending library. It gave the world novelists like Elizabeth Gaskell, Jeanette Winterson and Anthony Burgess, plays host to the current Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and has two poets as University Chancellors, namely Lemn Sissay at the University of Manchester and Jackie Kay at the University of Salford.

And accessing the rich literary heritage doesn’t mean waiting for the Manchester Literature Festival to come around for another year either – they increasingly programme events across the year and the weekly live-literature scene is buzzing.

Events aside there are writerly riches to be found tucked away (and in plain sight) in a seemingly impossible wealth of stunning libraries and archives. The International Anthony Burgess Foundation does what it says on the tin in a gem of a venue. First call for most international visitors is the stunning John Rylands Library, closely followed by the medieval Chetham’s with holdings from alchemist Dr John Dee and stories of Marx and Engels, and the recently reopened Central Library with its amazing domed reading room. There are lesser known gems too, all with specialist collections: Salford’s Working Class Movement Library is a homage to Ruth and Eddie Frow’s passion for working-class politics, The Portico to Victorian novels and the Special Collections Library at MMU to the art of the children’s book.

So next time you see a plaque denoting Manchester as the newest member of UNESCO’s worldwide Creative Cities network, you’ll know why. Not that this is about a sign – it will encourage more literary exploration, expression and celebration, starting with a programme of cultural events and community writing projects across the city and its campuses (where you’ll find a Centre for New Writing, and the Manchester Writing School).

“Manchester’s an alchemical city – it has always transformed things… Manchester has got energy that nowhere else in the British Isles has, and it brings that to its creativity. This is a place where you can write, you can make music, you can sing, you can be an entrepreneur. There’s no separation between arts and science… This is the right city at the right time for a UNESCO [Creative] City.”

Jeanette Winterson, writer, Professor of Creative Writing, University of Manchester


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