The arts bring in £25m to Ipswich economy over two years

PUBLISHED: 14:58 14 February 2020 | UPDATED: 14:58 14 February 2020

The cast of the Wedding, Gecko Theatre Picture: GECKO THEATRE COMPANY

The cast of the Wedding, Gecko Theatre Picture: GECKO THEATRE COMPANY


Theatre and art organisations in Ipswich are celebrating the ‘huge positive impact’ culture has made in the town as figures reveal they delivered more than 5,000 performances and exhibitions over two years.

Once, New Wolsey Theatre Picture: MANUEL HARLANOnce, New Wolsey Theatre Picture: MANUEL HARLAN

We are Ipswich - a collective of theatres and arts organisations - made a pledge in November 2017 to deliver "cultural, social and economic growth" in the town, making it a great place to live, work, visit and invest.

Two years on, the organisations that are part of the collective have said they are thrilled to announce the huge positive impact that culture has made in Ipswich: over 5,000 performances, more than 1million attendances, more than 250 jobs and more than £25million for the local economy.

We are Ipswich is made up of DanceEast, Eastern Angles, Gecko, New Wolsey Theatre, Pacitti Company (SPILL Festival), Red Rose Chain, Suffolk Libraries, Ipswich Museums and Ipswich Borough Council theatres (Ipswich Regent Theatre, Corn Exchange and Ipswich Entertains).

Sarah Holmes, chief executive of New Wolsey Theatre, which created the hit musical ONCE which has gone on to tour the UK, said: "This is great proof that Ipswich is a culturally vibrant town. Those who live or work here are very lucky and as for everyone else in the world: come and see for yourselves!"

Cinderella, New Wolsey 2018. Cast meet and greet Picture: MIKE KWASNIAKCinderella, New Wolsey 2018. Cast meet and greet Picture: MIKE KWASNIAK

Dave Muller, chairman of Visit Ipswich, said We Are Ipswich "reinforces what a great cultural offering we have".

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More than 5,000 performances and exhibitions is the equivalent of more than seven cultural opportunities every day, including KISS & TELL which saw the iconic The Kiss sculpture by Rodin come to Christchurch Mansion and SPILL Festival bringing the haunting sound installation Clarion Call on the waterfront.

More than 1million attendances is the equivalent of every person in Ipswich attending four times a year. Summer festivals and events in Christchurch Park, organised by Ipswich Entertains (Ipswich Borough Council), are some of the biggest events in Suffolk.

The Kiss by Rodin at Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich Picture: ALL ABOUT IPSWICHThe Kiss by Rodin at Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich Picture: ALL ABOUT IPSWICH

There were also 128 commissions of new work and 50 premiers in Ipswich, more than 18,000 active sessions for almost a quarter of a million children and young people, 10,000 active sessions for more than 230,000 adults and 50,000 hours of volunteering by more than 1,800 volunteers.

Terry Hunt, chairman of Ipswich Vision, said: "These fantastic figures underline the importance of the exciting and vibrant arts and cultural offer here in Ipswich. The arts contribute hugely to the local economy, bringing thousands of visitors into Ipswich, creating many jobs, and enhancing the status of a Ipswich as an important centre for the arts."

Bryony Rudkin, deputy leader of Ipswich Borough Council, added: "Our relationship with our arts partners has proved very successful and has helped to cement Ipswich's position as a leading cultural centre. This relationship I am sure is going from strength to strength."

Rosalind Wynn, executive producer for Gecko Theatre, said the next two years promised to be "even more exciting" for the theatre company as it creates its next show in Ipswich and looks forward to opening its own building, The Gecko Creation Space, in a former warehouse on St Peter's Wharf.

New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich Picture: ALL ABOUT IPSWICHNew Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich Picture: ALL ABOUT IPSWICH

We Are Ipswich intends to build further on its achievements in the coming years and hopes to release its next manifesto in 2021.

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