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