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Celebrating the huge impact the arts are making in Ipswich

A ‘love letter’ to Ipswich: Theatres & arts organisations celebrate an incredible two years of culture

In November 2017, We Are Ipswich (the collective of theatres and arts organisations in Ipswich), released their cultural manifesto for the town; setting out their mission to make Ipswich a great place to live, work, visit and invest.

Two years later; 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) are excited to announce the huge positive impact that culture has made in Ipswich: over 5,000 performances, 1 million attendances, 250 jobs and £25million for the local economy.

Collectively, the organisations that make We Are Ipswich have created new opportunities for young Ipswich and Suffolk artists, developed home-grown shows that have gone on to tour the UK and across the world, engaged and empowered local communities, brought world-renowned art to Ipswich and contributed over £25million to the local economy. All helping to cement Ipswich as a nationally significant destination for arts and culture.

From November 2017, We Are Ipswich pledged to deliver “cultural, social and economic growth in Ipswich”. Since then, they have delivered:

  • Over 5,000 performances and exhibitions – the equivalent of over 7 cultural opportunities every day; including KISS & TELL which saw the iconic The Kiss sculpture by Rodin come to Christchurch Mansion, SPILL Festival bringing the haunting sound installation Clarion Call on the waterfront plus a huge range of theatre, dance and performance across the town.
  • Over 1 million attendances – the equivalent of every person in Ipswich attending 4 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.
  • 128 commissions of new work and 50 premiers in Ipswich. DanceEast regularly host world-premiers of performances from some of the greatest dancers and choreographers.
  • Over 18,000 active sessions for almost a quarter of a million children and young people; and 10,000 active sessions for over 230,000 adults.
  • Companies such as Red Rose Chain, Ipswich Library and Eastern Angles continue to do important work that engages and inspires all members of the Ipswich community.
  • 50,000 hours of volunteering by over 1,800 volunteers.
  • Over 250 jobs and income of over £25million.

All of the organisations that make up We Are Ipswich are proud to be based in Ipswich and thrilled with the impact they have collectively made in the town and across Suffolk.

Sarah Holmes, Chief Executive of New Wolsey Theatre (which created the hit musical ONCE which has gone on to tour the UK), says: “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!

Dave Muller, Chair of Visit Ipswich, adds: “We Are Ipswich reinforces what a great cultural offering we have the positive impact on the town; further demonstrating why Ipswich is such a great place to visit and enjoy.”

Terry Hunt, Chair of Ipswich Vision, continues: “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.”

Councillor Bryony Rudkin, Deputy Leader of Ipswich Borough Council, comments: “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 physical theatre company Gecko Theatre, says: “We’re proud to take the name of Ipswich wherever we travel, and always happy to come home. The next 2 years promise to be even more exciting for us as we create our next show here in Ipswich and look forward to opening our own building, The Gecko Creation Space, as we repurpose an unloved warehouse on St Peter’s Wharf in partnership with Ipswich Borough Council in 2021.

What’s next?

The work doesn’t stop there! The We Are Ipswich collective intend to build further on their achievements in the coming years and are hoping to release their next manifesto in 2021.

Until then, all the theatres and arts organisations are continuing their innovative work in Ipswich; empowering communities, attracting investment and creating great art.

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