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Cultural Action Zones Call

GBSLEP will be launching a call for Cultural Action Zones in the first half of 2020. This will ensure that we have a strong pipeline of investible projects that can be connected not only with future LEP monies and resources around the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, but also the significant level of contestable resources currently available and planned around the place agenda.

The LEP will use its modus operandi of ‘agitate, enable, commission’ to develop proposals, broker partnerships and help bring into reality as many of them as the politics and funding of the coming few years will allow.

GBSLEP’s definition of ‘Cultural Action Zones’ is the one proposed by Culture Central, included within the West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy and already recognisable in our many existing ‘creative quarters, from Digbeth to the Jewellery Quarter.

Each zone can have many component actions, interesting projects, and multiple outcomes. It is, in essence, a system change proposition, often involving social, wellbeing, heritage and inclusive growth criteria which, at first glance, may not appear purely economic.

These zones will be able to exist at various scales, from city centre to local high street, and can involve projects of all sizes, from major redevelopments to smaller community-led initiatives. They will enable the development of a ground-breaking approach to cultural infrastructure that looks at the entire ecosystem investment model to understand how each investment contributes to a wider system that is highly contemporary (in design, connectivity, cultural practice and business sustainability) and in so doing places equal value on small scale interventions, non-city centre regeneration activity, ‘meanwhile’ use, etc. at a local level. They should be as relevant to Redditch, Lichfield, Bromsgrove or Solihull as they are to Birmingham.

These Action Zones will be brought to life through the project activity they support. This is where the interaction between the place-making approach (cultural action zones) intersects with the decision-making criteria for individual projects and initiatives, and the new investment cycle is initiated. The intention here is to move away from a project assessment approach that is artform- or location-specific, towards a set of criteria that ensure each project contributes explicitly to the wider intent of the Action Zone, and in so doing disrupts the cycle of atomised project proposals. Examples of cultural action zone projects might include:

  • Major development sites such as Smithfield in Birmingham
  • Anchor project sites arising from other investments such as High Speed 2 or a town centre regeneration scheme
  • Commonwealth Games delivery and adjacent sites
  • Towns and local centres that have a current, or latent, set of cultural assets and organisations, such as Sutton Coldfield, Lichfield or Redditch
  • Smaller local centres, such as Balsall Heath in Birmingham
  • Unexpected places and ideas that disrupt our normal thinking

Please register your interest in learning more as soon the guidance and application form become available by emailing us on

More on the LEPs broad approach to culture and cultural assets can be found here.
More on the LEPs wider work across the creative industries can be found here.
Please  contact GBSLEP for more information about our other activities and programmes beyond the creative and cultural industries.