West Midlands Cultural Infrastructure Map
Mapping spaces for culture and creativity in the West Midlands
We Made That mapped more than 2000 physical spaces that together form the West Midlands’ cultural and creative infrastructure. The result is the first-ever interactive map of the cultural and creative ecosystem in the region, helping a variety of cultural and public organisations guide their planning and attract investment.
The online mapping tool shows publicly accessible physical spaces that host and support cultural and creative activities across the West Midlands. The map is designed as an evolving tool that will capture new spaces as they emerge. As of its launch, it featured 295 open creative workspaces, 514 performance and exhibition spaces, and 1,274 community spaces for cultural participation and learning.
The map helps to raise the profile of the region as a cultural and creative hub, facilitates new partnerships and collaborations, and provides the cultural and creative sectors and public organisations with the intelligence needed to plan for investment and growth. First published as the UK is coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tool helps the cultural and creative sectors to build back better and make the most of opportunities such as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The data collection is underpinned by a robust methodology, including the classification of spaces by typology and primary cultural or creative sector. In addition, the map shows the capacity of cultural venues and other useful information such as local audience and demographic profiles.
2,138 spaces hosting and supporting cultural and creative activities and initiatives regularly
25,000 people work in the cultural sector in the West Midlands, and another 23,000 jobs are supported by the sector’s activity
£1.1bn total economic footprint of the cultural sector in the West Midlands
The cultural infrastructure map was developed as part of a wider commission on which We Made That alongside Hatch and Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy carried out a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the cultural sector in the West Midlands. The result is a series of outputs that provide an evidence base for future development of the sector in the region and help to maximise opportunities around major events and other place-based approaches.
As well as mapping cultural infrastructure, We Made That developed a framework to grasp the social value of cultural and creative initiatives and took a lead on documenting how culture delivers benefits beyond easily quantifiable economic value – for example through improving health and wellbeing, developing skills, and widening access and participation.