THE ‘FEWER CULTURAL OPPORTUNITIES’ CLUSTER
e.g. Swallownest, Chatteris, Heanor, Minster (Swale)
These 78 towns are again clustered in post- industrial areas but also in remote and rural parts of the UK. The lack of arts opportunities often belies the fact that these places are difficult to get to, and do not have many of the institutions, such as universities, which might cultivate creative opportunities.
These towns are characterised by low levels of participation in the arts in the past year – as well as small student populations and lower levels of international travel, indicated by high proportions having low passport ownership. We have also included among the criteria towns which have above average numbers with no qualifications, but below average levels of poverty. This implies that they are places without much of a culture around education.
The challenges here, from a resilience point of view, relate to fulfilment and opportunity. Young people in these towns may now have visited big cities or been abroad. Not only may they hold resentments and frustrations about their own chances in life, which can spill over into blame and hostility towards migrant groups, but they are unlikely to have meaningful contact with others from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds to themselves.
Successful ideas for towns in this cluster will be those which resituate towns as cultural hubs, enabling arts and educational opportunities in smaller places, and focusing on what towns have to offer in cultural terms. The idea of a ‘town of culture’ award for example, nominating 5-10 towns annually, would be a good way of replicating the policies which have been successfully applied to cities.