MORE than 625,000 visitors each year and £16million could be generated by Chester’s theatre, library and cinema complex, according to a new study.
This is one of the major findings in the latest economic impact study on the city’s cultural centre carried out by Liverpool-based economic, social and regeneration specialists Amion Consulting, which says one third of that figure would be coming from outside the city.
Amion describe the £37.05m cultural centre as the most significant capital development in Chester since the 1970s and estimate the project could generate £16.9m of gross expenditure annually.
It is forecast that £20.3m of the total could be generated within the wider area of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Economic Partnership.
Work is expected to start on site in February, 2015, and national construction giants, Kier Construction has estimated that 250 people will be employed any one time and a total of 1,500 throughout the contract period.
In addition, Amion estimate that about 385 jobs will be created directly and indirectly by the cultural centre and that this number could increase as the events programme becomes more established.
Chester’s cultural centre is projected to generate about £6.7m of gross value added – the economic measure of goods and services produced in an area – each year and £1.3m of net additional GVA within the borough.
“The project is not only important in providing a much needed expansion to the city’s arts provision but also in terms of its potential impact on the local and wider economy,” says the consultant’s report.
“It will be a key component in supporting the growth of Chester’s visitor economy, helping to create new jobs as well as safeguarding existing employment.
“And it will address an identified gap in the city’s visitor offer, attracting additional people and expenditure to Chester and the wider sub region and encourage people to stay longer.”
Cllr Stuart Parker, executive member for culture and economy, said: “Amion highlight the fact the creative industries sector is recognised by the Government as one of the country’s key growth sectors which is exactly why the culture centre is so important to the future of this city.
“It is generally accepted that every £1 spent on culture, creates a further £6 within the local economy.”
Cllr Samantha Dixon, councillor for the city centre ward, said: “We have always campaigned for the Odeon building to be used as the new site for the cultural centre because the regenerative benefits will feed directly into Chester’s economic heart.
Local traders, hoteliers and restaurateurs are working hard to survive in a very difficult economic climate and putting the centre in their midst clearly offers a vital economic boost.”
Artistically, Amion expect that the primary performing arts hub for Chester and Cheshire, will act as a catalyst to raise the creative sector’s aspirations as a centre for local regional and national professional artists.
To be managed by Chester Performs, it will present the best touring work, aiming to become a first choice venue for the country’s top touring companies.
And it will also produce and co-produce shows for Chester and touring, contributing towards the development of a ‘Made in Chester’ brand which national audiences can look out for at their local theatre.
The report says the social and educational benefits will include the creation of a social hub and the opportunity for young people to pursue careers in the creative sector.
It will also provide support to primary and secondary schools, helping them to engage with drama, dance and creative writing and provide a major opportunity for volunteering work with thousands of hours available in the theatre and its facilities.
The biggest impact however will be economically, as it will assist the regeneration of the immediate locality; diversify and enhance Chester’s night time economy; attract more visitors and encourage more people to extend their stay.
Enhancing Chester’s reputation as a major cultural tourism destination and increasing the city’s profile, regionally and nationally, it will stimulate employment in local creative industries and encourage businesses to locate to the area.