Champions Round Table
Culture, Sport and Events
Wellbeing and the economy are inextricably linked. The wellbeing of a population can enhance or detract from economic growth and stability, just as economic growth can improve or decrease people’s wellbeing. On the most basic level – a happy population is a productive workforce.
Sport and culture are widely perceived to generate social impacts. There is also substantial evidence that sports participation improves pro-social behaviour and reduces crime and anti-social behavior – particularly amongst young men.
As well as being the gateway to the Peak District National Park, Chesterfield has a wealth of sporting and leisure facilities and cultural venues. In addition to offering wellbeing benefits to the local population, having this wealth of culture, leisure and sport resources presents an opportunity for employers to engage their workforce as well as for the town to use to boast its visitor economy.
Organised by Destination Chesterfield in conjunction with the Derbyshire Times and hosted at the Winding Wheel, this month’s round table brought together key figures from Chesterfield’s culture, leisure and sport sectors to discuss how the town can further benefit from its sport, leisure and cultural assets.
AB – Ashley Booker – Head of Content at Derbyshire Times
KS – Cllr Kate Sarvent – Cabinet Member for Town Centres and Visitor Economy at Chesterfield Borough Council
MS – Mark Scott – Programme and Hire Manager for Chesterfield Venues at Chesterfield Borough Council
CR – Chris Radford – Managing Director at Brampton Brewery
CW – Claire Waller – Marketing Manager at the Sitwell Arms Hotel, Renishaw
LH – Linsey Hardy – Commercial Events Manager at East Midlands Chamber
JD – Jimmy Drew – Commercial Manager at Derbyshire County Cricket Club
SP – Sarah Poulton – Park Development Officer at Chesterfield Borough Council
DS – Dom Stevens – Destination Chesterfield Manager
How do we develop the cultural and sporting activities in the area?
CR – Chesterfield has some fantastic venues without even trying. Queens Park and the Market Square present a great opportunity to engage people in cultural and sporting activities in the town. We’re beginning to make best use of them and that’s fantastic to see.
DS – Culture and sporting activities play an important role in developing the identity of a place. It’s important that we link these to the education sector in order to open up opportunities to young people. We have to develop the cultural and sporting scenes in Chesterfield through partnership.
KS – Chesterfield Borough Council has invested a huge amount in Queens Park Sports Centre and the new 3G/4G sports pitches. We’ve worked with Active Derbyshire to encourage everyone, regardless of age, to get involved in sports and exercise. Chesterfield FC Community Trust and Chesterfield College have also partnered with us to increase the town’s offering. Our theatres – the Winding Wheel and Pomegranate are now attracting national performances, which all adds to the visitor experience in Chesterfield.
DS – Over the last five or six years there has been a big commitment from the council to push forward the cultural offering of the town. Much of that has been delivered by private sector partners. For example, the Chesterfield Food and Drink Festival at Queens Park and the annual Chesterfield Festival of Cricket. No one partner can deliver widespread change across the town, it’s a collaborative effort.
SP – From the council’s perspective we are as receptive as we can be to people’s needs. For example, Walking Football has taken off in the area and we were able to provide the facilities to make that happen.
KS – We’re oversubscribed at the sports centres for activities such as gymnastics and swimming. Once we announced that we were having the artificial pitches in place of the old sports centre, the phone never stopped ringing from clubs wanting to book. We identified a need and put something in that space that could help meet the demand.
DS – As partners and businesses it’s important that we put the products in place and make them accessible as possible to the schools.
JD – It’s important to get kids involved at a young age as it helps open them up to hobbies when they’re older.
KS – The earlier you give somebody an opportunity, the more likely they are to keep it up.
MS – It’s exactly the same with the theatre. Quite often the first experience that children have of the theatre and live entertainment is the pantomime, so it’s important we give them a good experience to try to retain them as a future audience. Our school bookings for this year’s pantomime are up quite significantly on last year’s, which is really encouraging.
DS – It’s the same story for events in the town. They give families and young people a reason to come in and visit the town and support the retailers once they are there. The link between town centre events and footfall is crucial.
CS – Events are a great way to bring together different markets and industries.
CR – At Brampton Brewery we actually produced a beer for the Chesterfield Food and Drink Awards – it is something that we’re looking into.
DS – We worked with the organisers of the Chesterfield Redbrik Half Marathon and bars and restaurants to offer discounts to the runners after the event. The Chesterfield Redbrik Half Marathon is a real asset to the local economy as it helps drive footfall into the town on a Sunday which would typically be a quiet day.
JD – We’re looking into maximising the infrastructure that’s already in place for the Festival of Cricket. Starting on the Sunday with the T20 being the following Saturday, there is a two- or three-day window to do something to maximise the boost to local economy.
DS – We have the opportunity as a town to change the way Chesterfield is perceived – from a market town on the edge of the Peak District that people use as a gateway, to establish ourselves as a base to explore the Peak District. We have the sporting and cultural offering to do that as well as the infrastructure; we’ve just got to be passionate and proud about that and work to link those products together. Partnerships, collaboration and communication are key.
How can the business community work together to support the promotion and growth of this sector?
DS – There are 3 – 4,000 businesses across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire. It would be great if these businesses took time to communicate with their employees about what’s coming up in the town. That could have a hugely positive effect on the local economy. We’re all busy, looking at our targets and what we have to achieve, but making sure that businesses are tied into the marketing channels that exist in the town is important.
CW – Our front of house staff always know what’s happening in the area. We filter down to them what might be of interest, so that they can let our customers know and get the most out of their trip. It’s added value.
JD – Just by having this conversation I realise we could take more initiative. For example, next year, once we know who we’re playing for that four-day fixture, we could contact the opposition and ask if they want to put something out to their members. Offers on hotels, recommended restaurants, shows that are on, etc. It’d cost us very little but could really maximise return.
CW – Packaging things together to provide experiences really works. Come to see that big act, then have a meal, then stay over. Joining those things together is important.
AB – It’s fair to say that for the size of the town, there’s a lot going on to draw people in with events like the cricket, half marathon and Sparkle Night Walk. There aren’t many places of comparable size that offer so much.
DS – Our cultural venues are great too. Two theatres, two live music venues, a couple of community arts centres – and that’s just in the town centre. We have many more facilities in the wider borough. The shows that we have here are comparable to much bigger places.
AB – When we compare ourselves to other towns in the region, Chesterfield’s offering is of a higher calibre.
KS – We made a conscious decision to attract high quality shows and acts to the theatres. Jimmy Carr recently did three shows in Chesterfield. If you put the acts in the town, people will come. They attract people who already live and work here, but also people from further afield.
CR – The Chesterfield Champions scheme is a great vehicle for bringing businesses and organisations together, but maybe there’s another level that could be taken on somewhere.
DS – There’s a huge opportunity. For example if you find that several venues have comedy gigs on in the town, a comedy festival has almost created itself. It just takes that next level of communication and coordination to get it to happen.
CW – We have to champion each other.
DS – We not only have to talk about what’s happening but also listen to what people want and offer what we can. What we’ve witnessed with the business community in Chesterfield is that people come together to support things however they can.
What are the benefits of the cultural and sporting sector to the local economy?
KS – Chesterfield had 3.7 million visitors in 2017/18. Shopping, cultural and sporting events played a key role in attracting those visitors who, together, brought £141 million into the local economy.
DS – Financial benefits aside, there are also huge benefits for health and charities. The Redbrik Chesterfield Half Marathon has raised over £100,000 for charities in its first two years and more will be raised by this year’s event. One of the biggest benefits though is the sense of community that events bring to people who live, work and visit the town. There’s a real buzz in the town around them.
CR – We’ve been involved in the Cricket Festival for a couple of years now and I have never ceased to be amazed by the number of visiting supporters it attracts. We have people come back each year just because it’s in Chesterfield. We have return customers at the Cricket Festival who come from all over Britain who tell us they wouldn’t go anywhere else for it.
AB – The fact the cricket ground is so close to the town centre makes it easy for visitors to access as well as benefitting local businesses. People will get off the train, walk through the town centre, stop off for a drink or a bite to eat on their way. The cricket festival doesn’t just benefit the cricket club and the cricket fans, but local businesses too.
CR – We must not underestimate the financial value and pulling power of festivals and events in the town.
DS – If you have a business in Chesterfield, it’s likely that the majority of your workforce lives in Chesterfield. If your business has a commitment to and engages with the local area will not only positively impact on the wellbeing of your staff but also benefit all sectors.
Destination Chesterfield is part funded by contributions from local businesses, Chesterfield Borough Council and the European Regional Development Fund. The project is helping to improve the economic prosperity of the town through a campaign to promote Chesterfield.
The local business community plays a central role in its success by both leading an independent Board of Directors for Destination Chesterfield, as well as businesses pledging their support to become Chesterfield Champions.
For more information about becoming a Chesterfield Champion, visit https://www.chesterfield.co.uk/destination-chesterfield/champions/sign-up/