Lancaster has a reputation as a place where music and the arts are thriving. We have two main theatres – the Dukes and the Grand and the Storey has some performance space too. The University has a thriving arts scene and operates LICA. There is the annual Litfest and the growing music festival. We have the musician’s coop, located right in the heart of the development zone. The Storey hosts a gallery and studio space and independent studio space opening up at King Street recently. Both Ludus dance company and the Dukes operate well-used youth engagement programmes. On a smaller scale, there is spoken word at Spotlight and other venues, there are smaller writing groups and drama groups. There is a cinema at the Dukes as well as the multiplex at Vue and there are a couple of film clubs. As well as this, the city’s pubs are constantly offering live music and open mic nights.
Could we make more of this artistic enthusiasm in the city? Can we better support smaller organisations and artists? Do our bigger organisations – like the Dukes and Ludus – need better facilities where they can grow? Do we need an incubation space for the arts? Do we, in fact, need an arts hub?
Could an arts hub be sustainable? Most quality arts organisations rely on grant funding and subsidy to allow them to break even. If an arts hub also provided more mainstream and popular events, perhaps a bigger music venue, would this draw custom away from other venues and the music in pubs?