Launched off the back of the success of Hull as UK City of Culture 2017 the CDF hopes to capitalise on the model of partnerships between culture and business developed there.  Hull, the DCMS says, ‘provided further evidence of how targeted investment in culture can deliver a significant economic boost to an area, with over £3bn of investment and more than 800 new jobs created in the city in the four years since it was awarded the title in 2013’.

The Culture Secretary confirmed the new funding as part of a speech in Coventry today – the next UK City of Culture in 2021 – on the value of culture to the individual, communities and the nation as a whole.

Economic growth

DCMS says the investment ‘will support economic growth and create more than 1,300 new jobs across the country, benefit 2,000 people through skills training, and support more than 700 businesses’. Through match-funding, an additional £17.5 million will be invested across the five locations.

For example in Worcester, which received £3m to regenerate its railway arches into cultural and business spaces, the funding bid was prepared by Worcester Cultural Partnership, which has pledged to match the award with a further £1.5m. The partnership is led by Worcester City Council, which has worked with the University of Worcester, The Hive, Severn Arts, Network Rail, Worcestershire Arts Partnership, Worcestershire County Council and businesses already occupying some of the arches.

In the first government investment of its kind the five areas will use the funding on local cultural plans which are tailored to the strengths and needs of each area. This funding forms part of the Creative Industries Sector Deal to help the country’s world-leading cultural and creative businesses thrive.

Catalyst for regeneration

The CDF has been launched by the Government to use investment in heritage, culture and creativity as a catalyst for regeneration. Each area has designed plans, listed left, to strengthen the local arts sector, increase cultural access and provide greater opportunity for people to forge creative careers.

“Creativity, arts and heritage make our towns and cities unique and our communities better places to live,” said Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright. “The Cultural Development Fund will support tailored local plans that use culture to create jobs, boost tourism and ultimately regenerate communities. This is an incredible opportunity that will not only help people build careers in the arts and culture locally but also boost wider investment and diversify the creative economy.”

The CDF, announced in the Creative Industries Sector Deal last year, ‘marks a step change in how the Government is investing in culture’ says the DCMS. It aims to increase access to arts, heritage and the creative industries while also boosting the local economy by attracting more visitors to each area and supporting the growth of new businesses.

Arts Council England

Arts Council England has worked with DCMS to deliver the Cultural Development Fund and its chair, Nicholas Serota, said: “The Cultural Development Fund … makes significant investment across the arts, heritage and creative industries to bring about real change – and gives us the opportunity to demonstrate and quantify the impact that arts and culture have on economic growth and productivity in urban areas.”

The CDF is part of the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy which has seen more than £150m jointly invested by Government and industry through the creative industries sector deal to help cultural and creative businesses across Britain thrive and consolidate the country’s position as a global creative and cultural powerhouse.

Art Fund – Going Places – Oct 2023
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Details of the winning bids:


Wakefield will receive more than £4.4 million . Bringing together major and respected cultural organisations including Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth Wakefield, this project will turn Wakefield into an internationally renowned location promoting our world-class creative industries.


Grimsby will receive £3.2 million. The bid will deliver a new programme of international events and public art to revive the town centre, provide a business support programme for local creative businesses and create new production facilities in the town’s historic centre.


Plymouth will receive £3.5 million to develop the use of immersive and digital technologies to drive growth in the local creative economy and bring to life the cultural programme to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower ship’s pioneering voyage.

Thames Estuary:

The Thames Estuary will receive £4.3 million to help develop a globally-significant creative production corridor. Through a programme of cultural R&D, training and mentoring for local organisations, and new arts commissioning, a consortium of partners will develop a well-connected creative cluster.


Worcester will receive £3 million to regenerate the iconic railway arches, providing affordable creative workspaces and business support. The bid will provide support for a festivals programme helping to diversify the local cultural offering and will retain local creative graduates to the city.