Free swim initiative a hit with West Midlands residents

Data recently released by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport highlights the popularity of the government’s Free Swim programme in the region.

Over 410,000 ‘free swims’ were taken by local residents during April– September 2009, a total exceeded only by the North West region.

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New dance sector research comes at a key time for West Midlands dance

New research from Arts Council England (ACE) offers a detailed insight into the nature of the dance sector nationally and regionally.

The report Dance mapping: A window on dance 2004-2008 (PDF, 4.16mb) contains a wealth of information ranging from data on levels of investment and audience figures, through to review of the social impact of dance, including a review of research which has investigated the health benefits dance participation.

As noted by ACE in their press release, the research ‘is the most significant compilation of evidenced-based dance research ever undertaken in this country.’

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A change of direction for regional Cultural Observatories?

An options study (PDF, 815kb) launched last month by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) culture and sport evidence programme has shed new light on the future of regional level culture and sport research.

You may remember that there’s been uncertainty over the future of regional research since the release of the DCMS review of regional infrastructure in July 2008 and the subsequent closure of Regional Cultural Consortia  (see previous CRAIN newsletters: August 2008–March 2009).

The vision cast by the new CASE report (PDF, 815kb) is one whereby the regional tier research function would provide a link between national and local tiers, working closely with local government in order to pull together local data and case studies, while disseminating national data across regional and local networks.

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Securing a healthy natural environment for today and the future

The most recent meeting of the Observatory’s Environment topic group reviewed evidence to “Identify Regional Natural Environmental Priorities for the West Midlands”. Evidence highlighted by the group will inform work by the region’s Defra Agenda Group (DAG) to identify regional environmental priorities. The DAG comprises Government Office for the West Midlands, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Forestry Commission, Advantage West Midlands and Animal Health.

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Roundup of Geographical Information Day 2009

This is a roundup of the presentations given at last week’s event in Birmingham focused on the importance of geographical information and systems. The event was targeted mainly at primary school teachers, though many delegates from the public sector attended.

The event which was chaired by Shona Frost from Staffordshire County Council.

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Interactive maps help monitor recession geospatially

We’ve produced a set of interactive maps to monitor the impact of the recession at different geographical levels in the West Midlands:

  • By West Midlands Local Authority
  • By West Midlands Census ward
  • Neighbourhoods in the Rural Regeneration Zone

The maps show Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimant rates (the proportion of the working age population claiming JSA), which gives an indication of unemployment.  The maps help us to see how the recession is affecting different areas.

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Institution of Civil Engineers launches State of the Nation report

Cover of State of the Nation reportThe Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) today launched its latest State of the Nation report and this year’s theme is ‘Low Carbon Infrastructure’. This report provides an interesting take on the low carbon debate coming from within the engineering industry.

As Paul Jowitt, ICE’s President says in his foreword:

“Many of the largest sources of carbon emissions are currently associated with the construction, operation, maintenance and use of infrastructure in particular in the energy, transport, water and waste sectors. Our inquiry suggests that many of the technologies and practices we need to create significant change in these sectors already exist, but their delivery is constrained by unfavourable investment and delivery conditions.”

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