Barking and Dagenham has lowest number of creative industries in London

Ballet students from Barking and Dagenham perform at their graduation

Ballet students from Barking and Dagenham perform at their graduation - Credit: Archant

Barking and Dagenham has the lowest number of creative industries in London, and one of the lowest arts participation rates in the country.

Figures were revealed by the council as it launched Creative Barking and Dagenham, an arts strategy which aims to boost engagement and participation in the arts over the next three years.

The borough has 195 creative industries compared to 6,955 in Westminster and 4,405 in Camden, which both topped the table.

Thirty one per cent of residents attend or participate in arts compared to 44 per cent nationally and 48 per cent in London.

Neighbouring Havering had the second lowest, but still more than twice as many with 420

As part of the strategy, a partnership of local and national arts organisations, community groups will be formed and meet three times a year.

According to the council, the partnership will consider ways to ensure individuals and groups can fulfil their potential in the arts, residents have access to arts activities, use art to increase community participation and encourage partnerships between arts organisations.

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The borough has received a £840,000 Arts Council grant to help it achieve its objective, but the authority says the “cornerstone of the strategy” is to deliver a range of arts related services “for less money” than previously or for the same amount.

Clifford Oliver, creative director of the Arc Theatre in Barking, said it was great to hear the council was trying to boost arts participation but added: “What is needed desperately is more funding. We had our council funding cut last year, which means we can’t put on our popular annual community plays.”

He added: “Arts are so important. Not only can they lead to an increased sense of community but they can also create opportunities. We had a single mum on benefits who took part in one of our plays, and she grew so much in confidence. She is now at drama school.”