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News & opinion

12 APR 2018

Arts and culture build successful cities

Member firm, Mace Group is using its construction expertise to provide support to 85 Bee sculptures across Manchester this summer, as part of a creative event dubbed as Manchester’s biggest ever public art trail.

Michelle Humphreys, operations director at Mace highlights the importance of cities investing in arts and culture to thrive, and the benefits of construction firm’s supporting such initiatives.

Investing in arts and culture

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that investing in arts and culture is a key factor in a city/region’s development and success. This is something that was recently highlighted as the Angel of the North celebrated its 20th birthday. 

The famous 200-tonne sculpture is today Britain’s most viewed piece of public art and a beloved icon for the nation. But when it was originally planned in the 1990s, it faced fierce opposition from critics who said it would make Gateshead a laughing stock. Today, it helps to attract millions of annual visitors to Gateshead and Newcastle, who spend an estimated £1.5bn in the local economy.   

Culture creates legacy

People really do grasp the value of culture  just look at the legacy of the 2002 Commonwealth Games, or the pride and attention that was brought to Liverpool as European Capital of Culture in 2008, and last year to Hull as the UK City of Culture. 

But it can often feel that when it comes to prioritisation above other societal needs, it is arts and culture that is most vulnerable to dismissal.  Criticisms are usually directed at expenditure or loaded with accusations of irrelevance. Yet it’s the activity taking place within the cities that defines them and makes them more attractive places to live, work and play. 

Manchester’s Bee in the City

This is one of many reasons why Mace is supporting Manchester’s latest creative adventure – Bee in the City featuring Manchester’s iconic bee symbol (which represents the city’s ‘hive of industry’) as the centre piece. The event is expected to attract over one million visitors who will see up to 85 individually designed, 2m high 3-D bee sculptures displayed across the city’s streets, parks and public spaces.

Bee in the City will also include an educational programme that will give children and young people the chance to participate, with an opportunity to design smaller Bee sculptures which will feature in the festival.    

Our industry needs creative multi-skilled talent

Mace is taking advantage of our construction skills to provide the 85 plinths which will support the bee sculptures across Manchester.

We see culture as being hugely important for placemaking. Yet there’s an outdated view of companies like ours that we just look to recruit those with technical skills. At Mace, we have an abundance of creativity that is underpinned by an international team of architects, landscape and interior designers, urban regeneration specialists, and BIM managers. We want to make sure this creativity is celebrated and that the message about the future need for a multi-skilled, adaptive workforce, reaches far and wide.   

By supporting events like Bee in the City, we not only help to invest in important cultural initiatives, but also demonstrate to a younger audience the variety of opportunities the construction sector has to offer; as well as how creative thinking is just as important as logical thinking in construction and placemaking.