£4.3m cultural drive for Essex


University of Essex & University of Kent

The University of Essex and an acting school will be part of an ambitious £4.3m project to drive forward the cultural, heritage and creative industries in Essex and Kent

The UK Government has awarded £4.3m to develop the Thames Estuary Production Corridor, a collaborative project aiming to put the South East’s creative industries at the heart of the national industrial strategy.

The University of Essex and the University of Kent are working together as part of the ambitious collaboration which also brings together local authorities plus the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.


East 15 Acting School in Southend will be at the heart of many of the projects being developed.

The University of Essex will also host Creative Labs to bring together different sectors to take on challenges facing the area while Essex academics will lead on creating a new cultural tourism strategy and identity.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright announced the award from the Government’s Cultural Development Fund to help drive local economic growth through investment in culture, heritage and the creative industries.

The fund is part of the Government and industry’s landmark Creative Industries Sector Deal, to help the country’s world-leading cultural and creative businesses thrive.

Activities the project aims to achieve between 2019 and 2022 will include:

• Estuary 2020: The most ambitious edition of the month-long international arts festival to date, that will include new arts commissions in locations along the Thames Estuary and involve local communities across the region.

• Estuary Works: New creative workspaces for creative and digital production in creative clusters like Margate, Southend and Chatham Dockyard.

• Re:Generation 2030: A creative apprenticeship scheme, creating job opportunities for 60 young people from the Estuary’s disadvantaged areas

• Cultural Co-Location: piloting an innovative approach to embedding art and culture into in Ebbsfleet, Purfleet and Basildon demonstrating new practice in the role that arts and culture can play in planning and placemaking.

Jeremy Wright said: “Creativity, arts and heritage make our towns and cities unique and our communities better places to live.

“The Cultural Development Fund will support tailored local plans that use culture to create jobs, boost tourism and ultimately regenerate communities.

“This funding will directly benefit young people and creative businesses across the Thames Estuary and further the region’s ambitions to be an international centre for culture and the arts.”

This vision will be led by a dynamic cross-sector partnership across London, Kent and Essex with students from all three University of Essex campuses benefitting from the award.

East 15 Acting School students from the new Creative Producing BA course will take part in residencies as part of their third year industry placement, while academics from across the University will collaborate with artists from the UK and overseas on a series of digital art commissions.

The University of Essex will also run a series of Creative Labs, which will bring together entrepreneurs, technologist, academics, students and leading professionals from sectors such as health, social care and ageing to address contemporary Estuary issues.

As part of the award, academics from the University of Essex will also lead on creating a new cultural tourism strategy for the Thames Estuary.



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