Essex County Council highlights its celebrities to boost culture

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Essex County Council highlights its celebrities to boost culture

  • By Miriam Earp & Piers Meyler
  • BBC News & Local Democracy Reporting Service

Image caption,

Singer Olly Murs was born in Witham, Essex

Essex County Council wants to highlight the region’s celebrities and shows like The Essex Serpent to boost the area’s arts and culture.

It has developed a cultural strategy over two years, following the creation of a £1.5m Arts and Cultural Fund.

The strategy includes the “importance of pop culture” and references artists, cooks, comedians and influencers.

The council said it was aiming to create the conditions for the growth and success of its creative sectors.

Image caption,

The AppleTV+ adaptation of Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent was set and shot on the Blackwater Estuary

In 2022, the authority formalised a dedicated Film Office for Essex with the objective of positioning the county as a go-to location for the film and TV production industry.

Shows such as the AppleTV+ adaptation of Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent, set and shot on the Blackwater Estuary, and Netflix’s The Crown, in which Hylands House in Chelmsford doubled as the White House, have recently been welcomed to the county.

The authority’s strategy states that “one of Essex’s major success stories in recent years has been the stream of talent to emerge”.

It lists examples such as musicians Sam Ryder and Olly Murs, sports figures like Sir Alastair Cook, acting icons like Dame Maggie Smith, social media influencers from shows like The Only Way Is Essex, as well as other celebrities including chef Jamie Oliver and comedian Russell Brand.

According to councillor Mark Durham, cabinet member for the arts, heritage and culture, the talent that has emerged from the county shows the “huge potential Essex has as a cultural and creative destination”.

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