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New place-based approach announced with 11 priority places across the South West

Arts Council has announced a new place-based approach as part of our Delivery Plan for 2021-24 with 11 priority places across the South West - from the unspoilt Isles of Scilly up to the cathedral city of Gloucester and over to rural New Forest.  

Published yesterday, the Delivery Plan sets out a detailed roadmap to implement the vision of our strategy, Let's Create:  

by 2030 England will be a country in which the creativity of each individual is valued and given the chance to flourish, and where everyone has access to a remarkable range of high- quality cultural experiences.  

The three-year Delivery Plan sets out our commitment to deepen and accelerate the way we work in different geographic areas. This will include working in a more targeted way with 11 priority places across the South West, in order to bring more cultural experiences to communities that have been underserved in the past.  

The Arts Council will work closely with Local Authorities, stakeholders, organisations and communities in these locations to develop new opportunities for increased investment in culture, both from the Arts Council and other partners.  

The Delivery Plan names 54 priority places across England, 11 of which are in the South West. These are: 

  • Gloucester  
  • Gosport 
  • Isles of Scilly  
  • Isle of Wight  
  • New Forest  
  • North Devon  
  • North Somerset (with a focus on Weston-super-Mare)  
  • Portsmouth  
  • Rushmoor  
  • South Somerset (with a focus on Yeovil) 
  • Swindon  

Priority place status recognises the need for increased development time from the Arts Council to grow cultural investment in the area, and is intended to give more people the opportunity to participate in creative activities and enjoy excellent cultural experiences in their communities and neighbourhoods. As we recover from the pandemic, creativity and culture will play a key part in helping to level up the country, as well as helping to rebuild economies and address social, health and well-being inequalities.  

Priority places were determined through an independent assessment process in which the Arts Council considered need through a number of data sources, including the British Red Cross Covid-19 vulnerability index and the 2019 English Index of Multiple Deprivation, as well as taking into account previous investment levels, engagement with culture, and an understanding of local ambition and capacity.  

The aim in Let’s Create is to increase focus on specific places underserved in the past. Priority places are just one of the ways in which the Arts Council is committed to levelling up and deepening its place-based approach by strengthening cultural and creative opportunities in a targeted way. Investment will increase in a range of other locations through Arts Council funding programmes such as Creative People & Places, the new Place Partnership fund, National Lottery Project Grants, Developing Your Creative Practice, and other Government funding streams that Arts Council supports such as: UK City of Culture, the Stronger Towns Fund, and Festival UK* 2022

Phil Gibby, Area Director, Arts Council England, South West, said:  

“Arts Council England is pleased to share our deepened approach to place-based working, and as part of this three-pronged approach to working in place, we are delighted to confirm the 11 South West places that we will prioritise from 2021 to 2024.  

“In deciding on these priority places, we considered both the needs of local audiences, and the strength of our partnerships with Local Authorities, Local Cultural Education Partnerships, and Higher Education Institutes. We look forward to collaborating closely with our partners in these 11 places over the next three years, beginning with a series of foundation meetings this autumn, in which we will come together in each place to agree on a set of jointly held cultural ambitions. 

“By joining forces in this way, we hope to ensure that more people in our region have the opportunity to take part in creativity in the places where they live and work, and to experience for themselves the power of culture to bring people together, support local economies, and make lives better. Meanwhile, we will continue to identify opportunities across the region as they arise, and all corners of the South West will continue to have access to our universal offer of funding programmes.”

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