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The South West Culture Digest - Summer

We’re wrapping up the summer with the latest edition of our Culture Digest. For this seasons edition, we look at a superb array of cultural delights from the area, share sector opportunities, report on exciting projects and festivals from the last few months.

Get your cultural lowdown of what’s happening in the the South west… Join in!

If you have a good news story or an opportunity you’d like to share with us, get in touch.

Good News

Amazing Authors winner announced 

At the start of Summer, it was announced that ten-year-old Phoebe from Devon has won the Blue Peter Amazing Authors writing competition, in partnership with The Reading Agency and BBC Arts.  

Phoebe’s story will be made into a book and animated film, brought to life by the animation studio behind Wallace and Gromit, Aardman, a project made possible thanks to National Lottery Project grants funding.

New members to our Area Council 

In July, we announced the eight new members joining our South West Area Council who will be playing a crucial role in influencing our decision making. They include; from local authority, Cllr Steve Pitt, Cllr Jemima Laing, Cllr Julie Jones-Evans and Cllr John Beesley, as well as creative practitioners Ajay Chhabra, Julie Caplin-Grey, Mark Wallace and Riley Mathers.  Read the blog for more information >

From our National Portfolio organisations

Plymouth’s The Box became the UK partner for The National Gallery’s bicentenary commission with Tuner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, for The Triumph of Art, to mark its 200th birthday celebration of festivals, gatherings and public art. 

intoBodmin in Cornwall has secured the purchase of The Old Library, giving the building a new lease of life for the community. The plans are to re-open the doors in January, and will serve as a place to host community groups, café visitors and professionals using their co-working spaces.

Did you get a chance to catch the BBC Proms? Amongst other talented musicians, Arts Council England supported Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra presented Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2, led by chief conductor Kirill Karabits, alongside a work by his own father. 

Over in Bristol, a new commemorative 50p coin has been released to mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush – and its designed by Bristol-based Spike Island’s studio artist Valda Jackson! The coin represented the unity of the bond between to UK and Commonwealth citizens, and is inspired by Valda’s recognition of her own parents’ contributions. 

With the summer festivals in full swing, we summed up some exciting funded projects at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. This year also saw the return of the vibrant city’s St Pauls Carnival! The annual celebration came back bigger and stronger than ever with a full schedule of activities and live performances – inspired by this year’s theme ‘Learning from Legends’. Take a look at other creative activities in the region, including free family-friendly events, in this listicle we put together

And in Gloucester, Strike A Light ran a community project and exhibition as part of ‘75 Years: Our Stories’ - celebrating the rich history and culture of the South Asian community in the city. Read some of the stories here.

Solara performance by ZoieLogic Dance Theatre & Critical Mass Dance Collective. Commissioned by FABRIC as part of Birmingham Festival 23. Photo by Dev 

August was also the month of Birmingham Festival 2023, which saw Southampton-based ZoieLogic Dance bring its performance ‘Solara’ as part of Everybody Dancing programme, and performed by a cast of disabled and non-disabled dancers. Take a look behind the scenes here.

Projects Update

Launch of Our NHS Health Stories

Led by artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah, National Health Stories marks 75 years of the NHS and is a National Lottery funded programme of artistic work in hospital settings around the country giving NHS staff the change to tell their stories. 

It will include artwork in all its forms - music, poetry, drawings, paintings, writing -created by and with staff in more than 80 hospitals across the country, and will culminate in a live finale event in November 2023.

Taking part is the South west’s Somerset Foundation Trust, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston Trust. Keep your eyes peeled for the finale event streamed through the NHS Our Stories website. 

Supported by our open grants funding

We’ve supported more than 2000 organisations and projects since April last year, thanks to our National Lottery Project Grants, such as; 

  • ArtfulScribe’s NEWRITE programme, a two-year place based creative writing and literature development programme for people living in and visiting the New Forest.  

  • Sidmouth School of Art’s Wallspace project, which displayed in April and May, and is a public gallery for all situated in a car park by the sea of the town! Within this project is an interactive map produced by commissioned artist Emma Maloney – showing the over 40 conversations from people from the community to build a rich cultural picture of the place. 

  • Words of Colour celebrating of the legacy of 20th century author and activist James Baldwin with ‘Conversations with Baldwin’ - coming to Arnolfini Gallery in October.

  • Swindon Museum and Art Gallery’s Unlocking Collections, which will unveil the museum’s collection to the public. It consists of artefacts and ephemera from theatres, concert halls and music venues across Swindon, as well as present-day location of the scenes depicted in Jurassic Swindon exploring a rich history of the subregion’s prehistoric past… 


Trustees wanted! 

Wessex Museum is seeking a trustee to bring diverse voices and experiences to the board.  

Apply before 4 September > 

Paraorchestra is looking for a part-time Marketing Coordinator

Join the organisation in amplifying Global Majority voices in arts and culture and leading its board during its first year of being a National Portfolio organisation.  

Apply before 13 September > 

Could you be the next Creative Director & Joint Chief Executive of Exeter Northcott Theatre? 

The organisation’s leadership team champions the vision of transforming place by culture, bringing people together and sharing different stories and tradition through theatre.

Find out more and apply here > 

Bristol’s Asian Arts Agency is on the lookout for a part-time Marketing Manager 

Become the marketing manager of the organisation promoting South Asian music and arts across the UK and internationally. 

Apply by 11 September >

Join Somerset Film as its Producer 

The organisation is looking for someone to work across three strands; community engagement, talent development and creative production.  

Apply by 8 September >

Hampshire’s The Spring has a range of vacancies out there that might be for you

Including Executive and Creative Director, Operations Manager, and Box Office Assistants. Join the Havant venue and art centre, bringing exciting events and exhibitions to communities in the region and surrounding areas.  

Take a look and apply > 

SW Spotlight: An update from our Creative People and Places programme

In July, we went to see the launch of Seed Sedgemoor’s Augmented Reality Hidden Station project in partnership with Severnside Community Rail Partnership and Bristol-based Zubr Curio. They worked alongside artists Jayde Perkin and David McMillan who helped create characters that reveal hidden stories about Bridgwater in imaginative and beautiful ways. 

You can catch the exhibition for free at Bridgwater Train Station until March next year >

“It’s been such an amazing opportunity to work on this project, and it’s been so much fun, both to work with Seed, and the communities of Bridgwater, and to make the artwork. The best bit though, was seeing folks interacting with the artwork and laughing and having so much fun engaging with our pieces.” 


Culture in Common, launched in the New Forest, ran their New Forest Comedy Festival over June, followed by the New Forest and Hampshire County Show 2023 with over 23 different activities for all to take part in. Over the course of three days, 20 non-profit organisations in the subregion, community organisations and local artists came together to offer more than 70 hours of creative events, scheduled performances, and activities across the grounds.

Seed Sedgemoor and Culture in Common New Forest are supported by our Creative People and Places programme, which focuses on parts of the country where involvement in creativity and culture is significantly below the national average.

Contact Us

If you have any feedback you’d like to share with us, a story you want to include, or would like to opt in to receiving this Culture Digest automatically:

Email the South West Advocacy and Comms team >

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