Manchester City Council

Arte et Labore

Our friends and neighbours from Blackburn are in town but this is not another football themed entry.

Their motto translates as "by skill and hard work", but I could believe equally translate ( I did do "O" level Latin but it was a long time ago) as "by art and by work", and it's that connection between art and the economy that I wanted to touch on today. Earlier I had a meeting with the City Council's Director of Culture and the Head of the Cultural Strategy to talk about progress on the city's cultural ambition programme. They brought with them the Head of the Cultural Economy team who told me about the work they are doing through apprenticeships and the future jobs fund to get Manchester young people jobs, training and real work experience in the creative industries. She told me about the work being done with arts organisations large and small aimed at increasing their economic contribution, and the work to motivate and support people in starting their own creative businesses. Creative industry apprentices are very new. There are ten in the city, two placed directly with the city council. She brought one of those with her. An intelligent and articulate young woman from Harpurhey getting a serious foot on the job ladder in an area where she passionately wants to forge a career. Creative industries are an important part of our economy and offer enormous potential for job growth.

Let me link that to a controversy earlier this week about public art, on this occasion located on First Street. This sort of argument comes up regularly but especially when times financially are difficult. Post- recession is art something we can really afford. I don't want to comment on these particular pieces, but do want to say that Manchester's future depends on innovation and creativity. Developing the businesses and jobs that will take us out of recession depend on innovation and creativity.To encourage creativity we need to show creativity and one way of doing that is through public art. There are many other reasons why public art is important, and of course expenditure on art has to be reasonable and balanced against many other priorities. But a city without art is a city without heart.

The hard work is important too!

Make a comment

There are 10 responses to “Arte et Labore”

  1. REDSTEVE57 Says:

    I fully concur with Richards point of view about the creativity in Manchester being just as important as the day to day hard work that we Mancunians have to endure. Though I may not personally like the art work at First Street, if it inspires just a few people, be they young or old, to pursue their dreams of becoming an artist in whatever field they choose, then it's money well spent.

    Where would Manchester be without the public works of art the galleries and museums, the music scene, theatres and television programmes and architecture both classic and modern, designed, created and inspired by and for the greatest city north of the Watford Gap.

    Keep the atrwork coming.

  2. Kev B Says:

    Its really important that we put the best face on the city in the hard times. We need to show investors and potential residents we care about Manchester - public art isn't really a luxury, its an investment. First Street's landscaping is excellent and a much needed improvement from what was a bit of an eyesore.

  3. Hummingbird Says:

    It's good news that the council values the importance of culture and the positive impact it can have on a local economy. In these difficult times however I feel that it is now the turn of individuals who whether out of a sense of corporate social responsibiltiy or just a love of art and culture in general should think about becoming patrons particulary in relation to the visual arts eg Peggy Guggenheim and Charles Saatchi.

  4. Miffed Says:

    I like to see sculptures in public areas because I think they give a real air of sophistication and creativity. However, I must say I'm not sure why the council has erected the plastic sculpture near the tram station on Piccadilly Gardens. This greyish, factory produced item looks like some form of rudimentary urinal. In fact, if you step too close to it you can actually smell the acrid tang of urine.

  5. Dave Bishop Says:

    It's true that the Arts have played an important role in most of the great civilisations of the past, and they probably have an important role in our time as well. Nevertheless, as someone with a scientific background, I can't help feeling that there's something rather cloying and self-indulgent about the Arts in modern Britain. In addition the highest aspirations of many people under 30 (and many of those over 30) seem to revolve around being an artist, or studying media studies or 'being-in-a-band' than anything more productive. Nevertheless, it must also be remembered that Manchester has played a significant role in the development of the Sciences (Rutherford 'splitting the atom', Turing and the development of the computer etc., etc.). In the light of those achievements shouldn't Manchester City Council be pushing this aspect of our great city's heritage at least as hard as the Arts? And, at the end of the day, is it not more likely that the Sciences have a greater potential to boost our economy, and maintain our place in the modern world, than the Arts?
    Mind you when I learn that the present Government is intending to cut research spending I don't hold out much hope! Too many 'Artists' in positions of power perhaps?

  6. bicolouredpythonrocksnake Says:

    REDSTEVE57, I think you're being a bit unfair on Edinburgh - and York and even Newcastle-upon-Tyne, too, for that matter!

  7. Mr X Says:

    The hard landscaping surrounding the pre-First St British Council building was superb. It is now grass which is being rapidly eaten by a flock of Canada Geese who will proceed to ruin it if not discouraged. The figures on the gibbets are bland, awful sculptures.
    However I disagree entirely that the Arts are not productive - Manchester's reputation as a creative centre has long encouraged the influx of talented people who go on to perform productively for the region in both Arts and Sciences.

  8. Mr X Says:

    Newcastle upon Tyne is never hyphenated btw.

  9. Richard Leese Says:

    Dave, I have blogged on science and technology before and this is not a case of either or. I think REDSTEVE57 is being far too generous to cities south of Watford Gap.

  10. eddie Says:

    That's funny Dave, because I tend to think that there's something rather cloying and self-indulgent about people with a 'scientific background' (does that mean there's a picture of a microscope behind you?) I'm sure the art world falls to its knees in apology at the fact that it couldn't have done something more 'productive' with its time. That white coat needs turning round.



The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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