Jeremy Spafford, Director, Arts at the Old Fire Station

Oxford’s Culture and Leisure

OXFORD 2050 – a centre for contemporary cultural innovation

Oxford is world renowned for its cultural heritage – stunning ancient buildings and a long history of learning and radical thinking.  It also has an international reputation as a centre for cutting-edge science and technology.  Our global brand could be described as heritage and technological innovation combined with relative wealth and prosperity. But what of cultural innovation and what of the extreme inequalities evident within our City?

In 2050, Oxford will still be a beautiful place visited and treasured by millions of people from around the world. It will still be a seat of learning and exploration and it will still have great cultural institutions bringing some of the best theatre, music, dance and visual art to the City for us all to enjoy.

It will ALSO be a City famous for ground breaking contemporary culture. And it will have found a way to use art and culture to bring communities together and give a voice to people facing tough times. Oxford will show that great art and inclusive art can be the same thing.

Oxford’s various venues and public buildings will routinely welcome audiences and participants from all parts of our community – those facing disadvantage as well as those from more prosperous areas. Oxford will have fantastic festivals celebrating literature, song, performing arts and different communities. And these will be stunning in quality and, significantly, will include people from all backgrounds as creators and participants. Artists from around the world will come to Oxford to experiment and innovate. Children in Oxford’s state schools will be offered the same kind of rich cultural opportunities which are rightly so highly valued by its private schools. Visitors will flock to see the gorgeous buildings, the stunning public art and museums and the vibrant street markets and independent shops. The people of Oxford will be surrounded by opportunities to have fun, to play, to think and learn and to encounter people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives to find common ground.

Oxford will demonstrate that art is not the icing on the cake but is fundamental to the well-being of individuals and society.

Art is a brilliant way to find out what people think and help people understand so, in 2050, Oxford’s decision makers will be working with cultural organisations to ensure those most affected by decisions have a voice. In 2050 children will be succeeding at school, nobody will be homeless, the air will be clean and the people will be prosperous. This will happen because good decisions will be made about transport, planning, housing, infrastructure, community development and education. Those good decisions will have been made because Oxford has found ways to work across institutional boundaries to value all perspectives and experiences, build trusting relationships and focus on doing the right thing by everyone in the City.

In 2050, the world will look to Oxford to learn how, through a commitment to good quality relationships and cultural innovation, the City has managed to become the happiest place to live.