The Black Country is to play a lead role in a new national project to show how culture can help to create attractive, sustainable communities.
Announced in the Chancellor's recent Budget statement, £500,000 has been awarded from the Treasury's 'Invest to Save' budget to develop a new set of planning tools showing how to build culture into local plans for regeneration and improved opportunities for communities.
Over the next two years this step-by-step guide for plan-ners and regeneration professionals will be developed and tested in three pilot areas - the Black Country, Milton Keynes and Thames Gateway.
In the Black Country, the idea for this initiative came out of a considerable body of work already done on planning for the area's long term future.
Led by the Black Country Consortium, the Black Country Study has identified that major changes are needed to improve the attractiveness of city and town centres, to transform the environment and to provide more opportunities for communities.
Sarah Middleton, chief executive of the Black Country Consortium said: "The Black Country is characterised by its wealth of cultural and industrial heritage as much as by its cultural diversity. These are enormous strengths on which we must continue to build for the future.
"With a population of more than one million, our ambition is to achieve a quality and breadth of cultural opportunity appropriate to the equivalent of a major European city of the 21st century."
Experts from agencies responsible for the arts, sport, heritage, museums, libraries, parks, creative industries and environmental design will all have a role in developing the toolkit and in supporting Black Country planners and regeneration bodies to ensure that culture makes its full contribution to the future viability and vitality of the area's strategic centres and local neighbourhoods.
This project is one of just 12 culture, media and sport initiatives supported by the Government's 'Invest to Save' scheme.