Culture, Policy and Events Team

The council’s Culture, Policy and Events Team is a small team, currently responsible for the following work streams in addition to its support and development work with Bradford Culture Company who will deliver UK City of Culture 2025:

  • Cultural programme of events and festivals
  • Cultural partnerships
  • Arts, culture and heritage grants programmes

The Council and in particular its Culture and Events Team has been the key partner, working alongside and substantially supporting the BD25 Bid Team in the development of the successful UK City of Culture 2025 Bid, as well as the establishment of multiple agency new key partnerships and initiatives.  It continues to be an integral partner in the delivery of UK City of Culture and its own festivals and events programme is key in establishing the platform for 2025 providing a significant contribution towards runway activity in 2024, and the 2025 programme itself as well as for the Legacy in 2026 and beyond.

Cultural programme of events and festivals

Our festival programme has been developed to support a range of festivals & events across the district whilst offering the opportunity to drive footfall into key locations across the district, increase economic growth and provide a range of free and affordable cultural activities.

This programme is partly delivered directly by the Culture, Policy and Events Team and party via cultural and community partners to develop a relevant and vibrant cultural offer for Bradford District. Key moments in the events calendar delivered include:

  • BD: Festival - A free family festival using theatre, dance, poetry and art to bring to life the streets of Bradford.
  • Taste: BD - A new flagship event for the city centre which hosted a celebration of local food, drink and craft providers. Bringing opportunities to the city centre businesses and those from across the district who desire a showcase.
  • BD: Is LiT - A biennial district wide Festival of Light. Bringing to life our streets, community centres, shops and bus stops using light installations. Ten commissions have been awarded funding for the 2023 festival which takes place on 3 and 4 November 2023.

Festival Fund

The district has over 30 festivals and events across the year that are celebrated in a range of spaces including parks, community hubs, shopping centres and in our neighbourhoods. In 2021-2022 we ran our first festival fund opportunity which resulted in 10 festivals receiving funding.

Following the success of the initial festival fund trial and subsequent training and development opportunities noted below we announced a new 2-year Festival Fund in 2022/2023.  This new funding programme was developed to celebrate Bradford District's unique festivals and events and applicants will deliver events in both 2023 and 2024 in the run-up to UK City of Culture 2025. In June 2023 we awarded 13 organisations festival funding. 

In December 2022 our team in partnership with Bradford Producing Hub delivered BD:Festival Kit - a new 5-day skills development programme for events and festival organisers which ran from December 2022 to January 2023. The programme covered a range of areas including developing creative programmes, sourcing funding, building marketing campaigns, and events and festivals across the Bradford District.

In February 2023 the Outdoor Arts UK National Conference was hosted in Bradford in partnership with BD25, Bradford Producing Hub and the Cultural Voice Forum.  This was the first outdoor arts UK conference since before the pandemic and took place on 1 and 2 February 2023. It brought to the district over 200 national festivals, event’s organisers, local authorities, artists and outdoor arts experts to celebrate the outdoor sector, network and embark on key sector discussions.

Cultural partnerships

A significant number of partnerships have been developed our team, many alongside Bradford 2025 and the wider cultural sector. These include:

  • Bradford Cultural Education Partnership (BCEP): A working/collaborative group which aims to bring the arts, culture, heritage, creative industries, employers and education sectors together to offer a consistent and high-quality arts, creative and cultural education for all children and young people.
  • Cultural Voice Forum: Bradford’s Cultural Voice Forum is a facilitated network of over 300 people who work in the Bradford District's cultural sector.
  • Channel 4: This collaboration is intended to help facilitate and further the vision of the Bradford Council Screen Strategy and continue to Invest in its major project The Unit . The Unit is a creative content hub to support the development of the Screen sector in Bradford
  • Digital Creatives: Working in a cross-sector partnership between NHS, Bradford 2025, Bradford Council, Born in Bradford, The National Science and Media Museum and Arts Council England, Digital Creatives will facilitate work between 1200 teenagers in Bradford, exceptional digital media artists and data scientists to co-create new work and evidence the impact of creativity on their lives through world-leading research.
  • British Council: Development of a partnership with one of Bradford’s twin cities of Roubaix in northern France in collaboration with the British Council.
  • Music Network – A network of key partners including venues, artists, music promoters, BCB Radio, Music Leeds, artist management and Bradford College.
  • Fuelling Futures: is a new project aimed at women, girls and BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) young people to support pathways into STEM apprenticeships. It is funded and supported by Mission 44's Ignite Partnership founded by Sir Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team to address barriers that stand in the way to achieving a more inclusive motorsport sector. Delivered by a partnership of Bradford College, The LEAP and Bradford Council.
  • Brit School North: An exciting new partnership with the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) was announced in August 2023 with Bradford being selected to become home to the new Brit School North.  This free to attend school will accommodate 500 pupils aged 16 to 19 and will offer courses in dance, music and theatre. The original Brit School in Croydon, south London, opened its doors in 1991 and has helped launch the careers of stars including Adele, Amy Winehouse, Tom Holland and Jessie J.
  • BBC Screen Academy: Another exciting new partnership, the BBC has commissioned Virdee, a drama based on Bradford born author AA Dhand’s crime novels which are set in Bradford. Virdee will be an essential part of the activities leading up to the 2025 Bradford City of Culture. To support the production The Screen Academy Bradford has been set up to deliver a series of bespoke training programmes across all departments, designed to address specific crew shortages and skills gaps, particularly among underserved groups in Bradford. The academy is spearheaded by Magical Society and supported by the BBC, ScreenSkills, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Screen Yorkshire. The academy producer is Ameenah Ayub Allen (Ali & AvaRocks). 

Arts, culture and heritage grants programme

Our team administers several grant programmes which enable cultural sector organisations, community groups as well as independent freelance artists and practitioners to deliver arts, heritage and cultural activities in Bradford District. We endeavour to ensure projects are delivered right across the district wards and that they represent and reach Bradford’s unique diverse communities. Our regular grant programmes are:

  • Regular Funded Organisations
  • Small Grants
  • Heritage Grants
  • Large Grants

Regular funded organisations

The team administers a 3-year funding programme to 23 Regular Funded Organisations between the value of £5,000 to £30,000. 

Culture Is Our Plan

Culture Is Our Plan (CIOP) is the 10 Year Cultural Strategy for the District 2021 - 2031. The Bradford Cultural Place Partnership commissioned the plan with support of BMDC and Arts Council England. In addition to a vision statement CIOP sets out 10 Outcomes and 10 Targets. One of the targets in CIOP is to seek designation as UK City of Culture 2025.

CIOP was launched in May 2021 and built into the framework are biennial year check-in points with the sector and public to be able to ensure that the plan is on track to deliver on its ambitions and targets. The first of these 2-year check-in points began in May 2023 and was undertaken by our team. It is anticipated that each 2-year review will enable the partnership to formally refocus strategic priorities and investments as appropriate.

Heritage Action Plan – Bradford District 2022 – 2031

A partnership led by our team instigated and developed a new Heritage Action Plan was launched in May 2023.

Culture plays a part in everyone’s lives and the development of CIOP showed how important heritage, the assets, buildings, parks and landscapes, stories, archives and artefacts passed down by previous generations is to our experience of culture.

It seemed important to take a deeper dive into the heritage sector and to create a specific action plan for it. By 2031 we want to see:

  • People living better and happier lives, having better mental health, skills and jobs and longer life expectancy.
  • A thriving, diverse and sustainable cultural and creative industries sector playing a leading role in the growing economic success of the district.
  • Our District as a destination of choice for people to experience exceptional cultural activity and to create exceptional work.

Open data dashboard

It is essential throughout the duration of the strategy and continued assessment of progress that we continue learning and also share what we learn in a completely transparent way. Which is why we will be launching an online open data platform through which we can capture and share our learning.

Our team has been developing a visual data reporting solution to measure cultural activity and progress against the ambitions and targets of Culture is our Plan. Significant elements of this dashboard will be open data.  It is anticipated this dashboard will be launched in early 2024.

We have developed a comprehensive set of KPIs, and the first iteration of the dashboard will primarily be populated using data collected by the Council’s Culture and Events Team. It is anticipated the dashboard will hold a significant amount of data and provide users with the ability to filter in a number of ways such as by ward, constituency and year.  Information will also be displayed in a variety of ways such as by map, trend and data table. We will continue to build and expand the remit of the dashboard and it is anticipated future iterations will include contributions from much wider sources. 

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