Culture makes lives richer and helps make profits, too

Kiss of light - events such as LightNight and Sound City bring billions into the region's economy - long may they continue. Picture: Andy Hughes
Tony Reed is head of sales at commercial property firm Bruntwood and a board member of business organisation Professional Liverpool
THIS year’s Liverpool LightNight festival takes place on 19 May and, as always, it’s a great chance for people to get a rare perspective on some of the city’s finest cultural treasures. I’ve heard culture described as all of the things that make life worth living, and I absolutely agree with that. In the Liverpool city region, we shouldn’t forget that culture is also a key economic growth sector and the visitor economy is now thought to be worth £4bn. Liverpool’s many cultural assets help to differentiate us from other British and world cities. Most places would give their eye teeth to boast the number of theatres, museums, libraries, galleries and architecture that we have on our doorstep. That’s not to mention our places of worship, green spaces and world-class visitor attractions. The Light Night festival brings all of those organisations together and encourages them to open their doors throughout the evening, giving visitors a unique glimpse into the city’s historical and contemporary fabric. It’s also an excellent opportunity for neighbouring businesses such as restaurants, bars and hotels to take advantage of the increased evening footfall the festival generates across the city. At Bruntwood, we are working with a number of our customers in and around Queen Avenue, such as dot-art and CAU, to create something a piece of sculptural art for this year’s festival and this spirit of widespread collaboration is key to the festival’s continued success. The finished work will be made from 450 plastic bottles, reflecting the number of years it takes a plastic bottle to degrade. It’s a great example of art highlighting an important environmental issue and this was another reason for us to become involved. Anyone wishing to contribute a bottle can do so at our collection boxes in Cotton Exchange and The Plaza. The world’s biggest cities are very good at both embracing and commercialising their cultural heritage, while also protecting their own environment. It’s important that Liverpool and Merseyside continues to follow suit. Getting the vote out WHILE Brexit is destined to dominate the upcoming General Election, the main concern for many business owners will be to ensure that every party – whether its colours are red, blue, green or yellow – also gives full consideration to wider economic issues that affect their day-to-day finances. Our exit from the EU and our future relationship with Europe will have an indelible impact on our future economic performance and its consequences reach deep into many parts of both our economy and our society. It’s understandable, therefore, that each party is keen to tell us their approach to the negotiations. However, connected domestic issues such as infrastructure, tax, regulation and skills each warrant their own specific attention in the respective parties’ pre-election manifestos. Weak digital networks, congested roads, overcrowded trains, a lack of qualified job candidates and complex tax systems are all issues which frustrate productivity and leave many business owners facing sleepless nights. A coherent and comprehensive industrial strategy from our next government will give businesses the confidence the need to go forth and prosper. The General Election campaign is a chance for every party to outline their own promise to business and win our vote based on a full suite of issues.