Culture at the Core of the December West of England Initiative Meeting
‘What this fine city needs is a fine theatre’ – was the thinking back when the Bristol Old Vic first opened its doors in 1766.
Now, centuries later with the theatre on the eve of its 250th Birthday, 150 business leaders sat inside the spectacular venue admiring that very achievement.
Our city’s cultural draw is envied by others, and the theatre was a fitting setting for a meeting to celebrate a successful year in which Bristol has gone from strength to strength.
A Cultural Hub
Emma Stenning, Chief Executive of hosts Bristol Old Vic, kicked things off with the story of one of city’s most iconic venues. Following a recent £12.5 million redevelopment, the Old Vic is one of the reasons that our city is punching above its weight, and they are urging more businesses to get behind their plans for a further £3 million upgrade.
Attendees also heard from Simon Cook, Chair of the Bristol Cultural Development Partnership, who reflected on what a remarkable year it has been in terms of culture. With over 250 events and nearly £1.5 million raised, the partnership has put Bristol on the map with only a tiny team to support it.
Highlights in 2015 have included the Arcadia Spectacular, Sanctum, the Whales Sculptures and the Festival of the Future City. And that’s all on top of our year in the spotlight as European Green Capital.
A Year to Remember
Bristol’s culture and economy go hand in hand, and Chief Executive, James Durie, reminded everyone of the successes of the past twelve months. Our economy is performing strongly, with Bristol named in the UK’s top five most affluent cities and local firms reporting high confidence throughout the year.
Our green economy is also on the up, and we are creating a legacy as a pioneer in sustainable urban living and working through our European Green Capital year and of course into the future. Businesses across the city are embracing that change, with over 1,200 signed up to our Go Green initiative.
Planning for the Future
Guest speaker Barra Mac Ruairí, Strategic Director – Place at Bristol City Council, outlined how Bristol is shaping up. With a plethora of transport and energy infrastructure projects in the pipeline, and with new cross boundary plans being developed, our future looks bright.
With a globally recognised tech sector and over £2 million invested in innovative Green Capital projects this year, our creativity and enterprise is clear to see. He finished by urging the public and private sectors to work closer together to use our collective talent to triumph.
What’s in store for 2016?
President Professor Steve West closed out the evening with a look ahead to next year. The Initiative continues to shape and influence our region’s future and create a better place for its citizens. There is a lot on the cards for 2016, with the city devolution agenda at a critical stage, Bristol Mayoral elections in May and a major national EU referendum debate, all of which will have a profound effect on our future.
So the message to take away into next year is – watch this space and get involved!