It is repeatedly reported in the media that today’s young people in the UK will be the generation most negatively impacted by Covid-19. The Conservative Government was talking about levelling up prior to the start of the pandemic and this will be even more critical now if we are not to lose a generation to poor mental health, few job opportunities, a lack of housing and social isolation.
At the same time High Streets across the UK are reported to be dying. Shopping is going online whilst large retailers struggle to adapt to the rapid change in people’s buying habits.
These two situations do in fact offer an opportunity for local towns, including those in rural areas, and cities to rebuild their centres around culture and the arts. For example, the Natural History Museum’s “Dippy Tour” brought thousands of pounds of additional revenue to Dorchester when people flocked to the town’s museum to see the diplodocus skeleton, and of course stayed to view the rest of the Museum and visit the town’s retail and hospitality sector. The Museum in turn was able to offer much needed volunteering opportunities to young people and local coffee shops, etc were also able to offer young people paid part-time opportunities.
Rebuilding town and city centres around culture and the arts will provide the opportunity to redevelop unneeded retail space to provide much needed affordable homes for young people, who by their nature will want a social life which can be met through investment in local theatres, music venues, cinemas, and art galleries which could also offer workshops in traditional skills.