Oxford2050: Culture and leisure

An artist's impression of what Broad Street could look like in 2050, including new trees and benches. The image shows a winter festival taking place in the space.

  • Oxford will have world-class cultural and leisure facilities
  • The cultural and leisure offer will reflect the city’s diverse communities
  • Oxford’s public realm will encourage active lifestyles

Oxford already has a world-class cultural and leisure offer for a city of its size. In 2050, it will be even better.

In thirty years’ time Oxford will have further improved its world-class museums, art galleries and theatres. Smaller venues – including music venues, cinemas, libraries, pubs and community centres – will have been nurtured, encouraged and protected as community assets.

“Oxford will demonstrate that art is not the icing on the cake but is fundamental to the well-being of individuals and society.”

Jeremy Spafford, Director of Arts at the Old Fire Station (in 2017)

Oxford’s wide-range of venues will reflect the city’s diverse cultural interests. They will cater for all ages and backgrounds; promote excellent, innovative, collaboration, and unique performances and events; and be open throughout more of the day.

There will be a wide range of accessible and affordable festivals, talks and events – on literature, music, theatre, comedy, dance and film – to bring communities together for unique, shared experiences.

Historic events like May Morning and large-scale community events like the Cowley Road Carnival will be preserved and enhanced, and new community events will be nurtured. Events will take place frequently and throughout the year, not just in Oxford’s world-class venues but in pubs, cafes, new public forums, homes, parks and the wider public realm.

Oxford will attract world-famous performers, and people from across the world will want to visit Oxford to witness its cultural and artistic offer.

“The most important thing is community and participation. Perhaps every street will have a loom, and every house will have a fiddle, and the fiddle will pick up the rhythm of the loom.”

Anthony, Oxford OX4

The city’s large institutions – cultural and artistic institutions, but also the universities, businesses and local authorities – will support greater access to culture and the arts by running participatory and outreach programmes in Oxford’s communities. Local artists will have access to affordable studio space and venues.

Residents of all backgrounds and ages will be involved in collaborative and participatory activities, initiatives and events – helping to bring communities together, and enabling everyone to tell their story.

A central repository with information about all events – from community to university – and all venues available to hire will have been created to better promote the wide range of performances and events taking place in Oxford to wider communities.

Oxford will have a thriving retail and food offer in the city centre and in communities across the city, with a mix of larger and smaller outlets that cater to all needs and tastes. However, priority will be given to nurturing and encouraging local small businesses – particularly within the Covered Market, one of the jewels in the crown of Oxford – to provide the city with a diverse, innovative and unique offer.

Oxford will have a wide range of world-class, affordable and accessible sports facilities that will help nurture thriving grass-roots and professional sports teams and activities to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to take part in physical activity for their health, enjoyment and social contacts.

“Arts and leisure should also be inspired by and involve the rich diversity of people who live in and pass through Oxford – diverse in their origins, cultures, and what they contribute to the world.”

Danielle, Oxford OX4

Learning lessons from the Barton Healthy New Town project, the public realm will have been transformed and encouraging active lifestyles will be embedded into the fabric of the city. Streets will be designed for cycling and walking and there will be a network of green spaces to encourage active leisure activities as part of normal life for people of all ages and backgrounds. A wide range of classes and health activities will also be provided to help people keep fit and healthy.

The cultural and leisure offer will help people live happier, healthier and longer lives, and will tackle isolation, loneliness and mental health challenges. Oxford will be amongst the happiest and healthiest cities in the UK.

“If we as a city, at the level of individuals and at the level of communities, have cross-city links via sport, arts, or entertainment, I think it will provide a long lasting sense of mutual respect, social stability, and social benefit for all.”

Tim, Oxford OX3

An artist's impression showing Hinksey Outdoor Pool in 2050, showing no change.

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