Cultural collaboration to boost local economy by £36m

A new collaboration between local cultural and civic organisations, led by Keele University, is set to boost the local economy by £36m over the next decade.

Launched this week, Keele Deal | Culture is a landmark agreement between Keele University and local partners setting out shared ambitions to realise the full potential of the University’s cultural resources and assets for the benefit of the local area.

Keele University will work in partnership with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, The New Vic, B arts, British Ceramics Biennial, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council and the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce to deliver a unique deal designed to stimulate growth of the cultural economy in the region. The Deal will also be supported by Staffordshire County Council and the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Enterprise Partnership.

Over the next decade, the Deal will boost student numbers to the region, by bringing over 350 new students to the University to study creative programmes, while at the same time placing 250 students in local creative organisations while studying. The Deal will also increase student retention by keeping 15% more graduates in the area by improving student experience and supporting the creative economy.

Through a range of innovative business support programmes, the Deal will create over 300 new jobs in the next 10 years, boosting the local economy by over £8.6m. It will help 150 businesses in the creative and cultural sectors through funded innovation projects and provide leadership development programmes to 75 owners, directors and managers in the creative and cultural sectors.

In addition to enhancing local business productivity, the Deal will support creative and cultural partners through joint research bringing in £3.9m of funding for cultural activities and creating impact for local communities from our research.

Keele Deal | Culture will also provide a comprehensive programme of 2,170 creative and cultural events, attracting over half a million visitors to the county. Half of these events will be placed in priority sites for cultural regeneration.

Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice Chancellor at Keele University, said: “Creativity and culture play a huge role in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’s economic and social futures. The Deal is a commitment from the University and its partners to invest in the growth of the local economy by supporting and helping to advance our cultural offer to the local community, through research, an exciting events programme, student recruitment and retention and business support.”

Councillor Abi Brown, Stoke-on-Trent City Council deputy leader, said: “This is fantastic news for the city and local area. Stoke-on-Trent has a proud and rich cultural heritage and we, and partners, are serious about the significant role it has to play in our future. Being shortlisted for the UK City of Culture title 12 months ago had many hugely positive outcomes. It galvanised our pioneering, innovative and thriving creative sector, and focused the minds of major public and private sector partners in creating a legacy to ensure that this momentum continues to grow. The Deal will have significant benefits for our talented young people, existing and growing businesses and communities right across the city and local area. We can all look forward to the exciting opportunities and possibilities that it will bring.”

Sara Williams, Chief Executive of the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, said: “Staffordshire Chambers welcome this exciting new initiative. The creative sector is in the DNA of Stoke and Staffordshire and is a crucial – and growing – part of the economic landscape that makes us such an area of opportunity. We are proud to be associated with this new and ambitious project to raise the profile of the cultural sector and raise the impact of cultural activities on everyone’s wellbeing.”

Chris Twigg, Company Manager at B arts, said: “Keele Deal | Culture is a significant step forward in the development of a rich, valued and high profile cultural offer in the City and across North Staffordshire. The closer working relationships between Keele and B arts provides us all with the chance to make our complementary skills and approaches available to our associates, artists and importantly the communities with which we work.”

Fiona Wallace, Managing Director at the New Vic Theatre, said: “We are delighted that the new Keele Deal | Culture recognises the part culture and creativity play in the future prosperity of our region. The New Vic and Keele University are already partners on a number of ground-breaking projects that demonstrate the vital role creativity plays, not only in education and research but in developing our local economy and bringing communities together. We look forward to the next steps we can take together as part of the Keele Deal | Culture.”

Iain Cartwright, Executive Director at British Ceramics Biennial, said: “The British Ceramics Biennial welcomes Keele Deal | Culture as a demonstration of the university's commitment to its civic role and understanding of the importance which culture makes to a place. The Deal sets outs its plans for greater engagement with the city and its partners.”

More information about Keele Deal | Culture and how everyone can benefit can be found at