A consortium of Bristol and Bath’s leading cultural organisations, including the Cultural Forum for the Bath Area, and their two Destination Management Organisations is to receive an award of £350,000 from Arts Council England and VisitEngland that will put culture at the heart of their multi million pound visitor economies.
Part of the Cultural Destinations programme, a £3 million national initiative, the award will help fund an ambitious three year partnership project. Bristol and Bath’s key arts and cultural organisations will be working with the tourism sector to create a unique combined offer that promotes their extraordinary cultural wealth and delivers sustained growth to the local economy.
Both Bristol and Bath have well-developed visual and performing arts scenes as well as extensive physical and heritage attractions. Yet despite their proximity, few visitors understand how close and accessible they are to one another. By working in collaboration, the two cities can add value and appeal for visitors, making them one of the UK’s top destinations for cultural tourism.
The project is being supported by Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council and the West of England LEP, who have committed additional funding support.
Emma Stenning, Executive Director of Bristol Old Vic, lead partner of the consortium’s application, said: “With this investment in the Bristol and Bath region we are thrilled that Arts Council England has recognised the opportunity that exists for developing tourism using the rich cultural assets of the region. By working together over the next three years this wide ranging consortium of Arts and heritage organisations will build a combined offer for tourists that will be hard to resist.”
Nick Brooks-Sykes, Chief executive of Bath Tourism Plus said: ‘This is great news for the visitor economy of Bath and North East Somerset. This project will lever greater economic impact from existing visitors to Bath and Bristol, encouraging them to stay longer and discover further cultural experiences and, alongside this, will present the critical mass of the two destinations to potential new cultural markets. It is a major step change in collaborative working between the cultural and tourist sectors and the two cities.’
Kathryn Davis, Head of Tourism at Destination Bristol said: ‘We are delighted that this bid has been successful and what a positive way to start 2014. The cultural attractions in the cities are already an important part of the tourism offer but this unique partnership between Bristol, Bath and the cultural sector will enable us to build on this, to develop new audiences and attract new visitors, creating sustained and sustainable growth to the visitor economy.’
Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: ‘This is an outstanding result for Bristol and Bath’s cultural and destination organisations and well-deserved recognition for their determination to transform their individual offers into a powerful shared voice, with an exceptional and complementary range of contemporary and historical attractions for the cultural tourist.