Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe’s commitment to developing and championing culture and the arts as a key driver of regeneration has already had a transformational impact on Bradford district. Placing ‘Culture’ as one of the four key pillars in Bradford’s post-covid economic recovery plan has been the strongest possible endorsement of the arts sector in Bradford, and has empowered a new creative approach to some of the most pressing issues affecting the district.
The increase in Arts Council funding that Bradford district has received over recent years is almost entirely as a result of Cllr Hinchcliffe’s drive and passion for what the arts can do for Bradford and its communities. Under Cllr Hinchcliffe’s leadership, Bradford has seen the development of a Cultural Place Partnership, the creation of a Creative People and Places organisation, the creation of Bradford Producing Hub and a 10-year Cultural Strategy (Culture Is Our Plan), the formation of the new 300-member strong Cultural Voice for the independent arts sector, a new Screen Strategy (As Seen on Screen), leading relationships with Channel 4, as well as the development of the City of Culture 2025 bid. Her unwavering support for the arts and culture for everyone has seen her champion the district at a regional and international level with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the Arts Council, National Lottery Heritage Fund, with senior DCMS staff, and elsewhere in Central Government.
Cllr Hinchcliffe’s personal support for a wide range of community-based, grassroots arts activities in the most deprived areas of the district is testament to her determination to include as many people as possible in cultural activities from communities where engagement has traditionally been low. She has championed a recently expanded grants programme from the City of Bradford Council, which has widened the number of Regular Funded Organisations from 11 to 24. Despite having a full diary and many competing priorities she attends events of all scales whenever she can and makes it a priority to connect to grassroots events and activities. She uses her influence to ensure that funders and stakeholders see the value and impact of culture on the wellbeing of the citizens of Bradford.
Through the fast-turnaround Response Grants during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cllr Hinchcliffe championed a new model for nurturing creativity. These grants helped sustain multiple community arts groups and individual practitioners, who may have otherwise struggled during the lockdown period. It had the additional benefit of using creative output and local artists to inspire and entertain communities throughout the pandemic. Through the creation of Bradford Economic Recovery Plan, Cllr Hinchcliffe centred access to the arts and cultural activity as a key element of Bradford’s post-pandemic recovery.
What the judges said:
“The calls on a council leader are many and varied, but Councillor Hinchcliffe has recognised the crucial role that culture and the arts play in delivering wider objectives, as well as their own intrinsic value to communities and individuals. Her leadership has put Bradford’s cultural work on the map and helped make it more sustainable.”
“It is clear that Cllr Hinchcliffe is a dedicated public servant who translates her passion for arts and culture into action. It is inspiring to hear of the hard work that she has put in to ensure that Bradford has benefitted from vital investment and how this has helped to create a flourishing culture scene in the city. Cllr Hinchcliffe should be extremely proud of what she has achieved.”