Thames Calling: “We live by the river………..”

A VISION for a Thurrock which embraces arts and culture as the influence of the High House development in Purfleet spreads across the borough was discussed by leading councillors on Wednesday (11 December).

The item was introduced by communities portfolio holder Cllr Lynn Worrall, who said the item’s title Unleashing Creative Ambition – A Strategic role for Arts and Culture in Thurrock is “a wonderfully short phrase that captures what we want to see happen here in the coming months and years”.

She said: “We think arts and culture can play a really powerful role in helping address our community priorities.”

The architect of the report and the chief executive of the High House Production Park, Andrea Stark was allowed to speak at the meeting.

Ms Stark said: “You have a wonderful natural resource here called the Thames. You live by the river and just like other towns and cities such as Newcastle, you have an opportunity to use that resource and maximise its potential.”

Cllr Worrall went on to add:

“We talk of raising the expectations and attainment of young people, developing a wider range of job opportunities and increasing the quality of life and the feeling of place – this can actually do it.”

She added: “The report recommends where we should focus attention to make a positive impact and it highlights the need to work even more closely and more strategically with our partners.

“We’ve already made an impact in the arts and culture world with our imaginative approach to developing arts and culture – attracting the Royal Opera House here for example.

“We’ve already made an impact with thousands of local people as the Royal Opera House continues to work and interact with them – who would have thought of a Thurrock opera, who would have even considered showing opera here? Yet this is now considered normal in Thurrock.”

But she added: “This was just the first step, here we are planning a bold long-term vision for arts and culture so we can achieve even more for local people.

“For example the ‘cultural entitlement’ in Thurrock will see a new joined-up approach to cultural education across the borough. Moving away from one-off projects, we will see sustained engagement with every local school, produced by education and cultural leaders working together.

“This is not a simple task but it is something we want to see and should be working towards. The Education Commission provided a great starting point and work is already underway so we will be able to offer every young person in Thurrock regular opportunities to experience excellent arts and culture both inside and outside of school.

“We also want to see the Creative industries Innovation Hub grow and develop further attracting more innovative and creative businesses to come to Thurrock.”

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