Art, Learning, and Place in Norwich

In the last year in which full data is available the arts and culture sector supported 360,000 jobs, contributed £10.8 billion to the nation’s economy, and had a gross value added per worker of £62,000 compared to £46,800 for the wider UK economy. Chris Gribble, CEO of National Centre for Writing, began his talk at our Norwich Networking Breakfast on Tuesday 16th July with these facts as a way of highlighting to the business community the contribution the arts and culture sector makes to the local and UK economy.

There is a booming culture scene in Norfolk and Suffolk with proportionally more people working in the sector than regionally or nationally. Considering that Norfolk is steeped in history this is hardly a surprising statistic, but the thing that did surprise a number of people in the room was just how much has always been going on in our fine city. Norwich was the first city in England to establish a municipal library in 1608 and the Millennium Library has been the most used public library in 6 out of the last 7 years. If you’ve ever been to an event as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival you’ve attended England’s oldest city arts festival, which began in 1772. Julian of Norwich, one of Europe’s great mystics, wrote Revelations of Divine Love in an anchorite cell in Norwich and was the first woman to be published in English. Britain’s first and most famous MR Creative Writing was founded at the University of East Anglia and the first student was Ian McEwan! In 2006 Norwich became the first and only UK city to join the International Cities of Refuge Network which promotes free speech and supports persecuted writers.

Chris was a hard act to follow but Hannah Garrard, Programme Manager, did an excellent job. She highlighted the programme the National Centre for Writing ran to encourage young people to consider a career in the arts sector. As part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival the Engage! Group put together a festival in a day which included programming 5 events, designing the logo and marketing, and managing the event on the day. The feedback the event received was extremely positive and the National Centre for Writing are planning on running a similar event for next year’s festival.

Everyone came away from the morning with fun Norwich facts to wow people with and a renewed excitement for the arts and culture sector in Norwich. We are certainly going to be taking advantage of some of the fantastic events and venues on our doorstep and encourage you to do the same!

Big thanks go to the team at the National Centre for Writing and Ginger Lily for providing us with some fantastic food.

You can find all the slides from the morning here and information about 1000 years of Norwich’s history here.
 

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