The council - which has 2008 European City of Culture status - wants to target hard-to-reach groups and deprived areas where residents might dismiss theatre, opera and the arts as ‘middle-class' interests. A spokesman said: ‘Outside the city centre, people in the neighbourhoods do not often come into contact with cultural groups, and hard-to- reach people such as the disabled find it difficult to access artistic groups.'
One of the aims of the programme, entitled ‘Four corners of the City', is to find out how people in the ‘neighbourhoods' want to celebrate their communities, and to improve communication between the council, its Culture Company - whose head of comms is Paul Newman - and communities, the spokesman added.
‘We do not shirk from difficult issues and want people to address topics such as violence, bullying, housing, employment and regeneration, through creative eyes.'
The programme will be split into five geographical areas with five corresponding teams made up of council officers and representatives from cultural bodies.
The consultation is part of a two-year programme for each of the five groups to produce a ‘cultural product'. Plans for 2008 have been dogged by problems, including the resignation of the project's artistic director, Robyn Archer.