BOOSTING Barnsley’s cultural offering in its arts sector will be a ‘key driver’ in ambitious plans to grow the town’s economy in the next decade, a new report has revealed.

In recent years, while museums around the country have been struggling, Barnsley has been opening new venues to the

public and has seen its visitors rocket.

A new ‘culture strategy’ has been outlined by the council - backed by Arts Council England - which will see cash spent on developing, researching and implementing new ideas to increase footfall.

It comes after Arts Council England selected Barnsley as one of its 15 priority places in the north, opening up the potential for new investment, while the Cultural Development Fund recently awarded almost £4m to Barnsley to create new studios and galleries, foster cultural hubs and support creative networks across the borough.

The report, which will be discussed on Thursday, said: “In light of the societal shifts that have taken place in recent years, in particular the Covid pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis, it is important that the development and delivery of Barnsley’s cultural strategy is a democratic and inclusive process.

“In order to create a high-value and high impact strategy, that will enrich and strengthen Barnsley’s 2030 plan, the process of creating the cultural strategy must draw from diverse experiences of culture from across the whole borough.

“This means that while it is important to incorporate strong input from Barnsley’s existing and visible cultural organisations and practitioners, the strategy must go further.

“We need to engage and involve people of all ages, those from our BME communities, those who are disabled or have special needs, vulnerable people, our LGBTQI communities and people from various parts of the borough, urban and rural.”

The wider scheme - dubbed Barnsley 2030 - sets out leaders’ long-term visions for how the town look, ranging from the Glass Works regeneration to making the borough more attractive to visitors.

Kathy McArdle, service director for regeneration and culture in Barnsley, added: “We’re huge supporters of culture in Barnsley - we see the benefits and positive impacts on both wellbeing and the economy.

“There’s a real buzz around our borough as we continue to push boundaries and raise the bar when it comes to culture and heritage.

“It is essential that people and organisations which will be set to gain from the existence of a dynamic cultural strategy are involved in its development.

“This could include cultural organisations and venues, creative practitioners, artists and creative businesses, faith groups,

privately-run organisations such as dance schools, youth services, local charities, sports and other relevant interest

groups, schools and colleges.”