Cultural Strategy impact report
The Cultural Strategy was adopted in September 2021 which led to the creation of the Cultural Development Team (sitting under Economic Development).
Over the first six months (October 2021 to March 2022), the team worked hard to deliver the Cultural Strategy for the former Somerset West and Taunton area, and collected data to assess the ongoing impact and benefits of the strategy from September 2021 to March 2022.
Watch our video to find out how far the team and strategy have come in the first six months, and how we are raising the profile of arts and culture in our communities.
Get involved in our new "Events Recce" project
Do you work in an event or hospitality venue? Are you involved in organising events for Somerset? If so, we need you.
Diversifying your events is key to reaching new audiences and expanding your offer. It can bring in more profit, and even provide contingency and alternatives if we are faced with another pandemic. The problem is that we don’t always have the right venue or space to deliver on our creative event ambitions.
As a potential solution to these problems, the Culture Team are excited to invite you to join our ‘Events Recce” project.
The project is simple and only requires a small amount of time from you. As a member of the project, you will be invited to view other indoor and outdoor venues and locations to identify if their offer could help you expand your event programming, answer logistical questions, and understand if there are opportunities for collaborative working.
The project (covering the former Somerset West and Taunton area) is open to all venue owners, programmers, organisers, and anyone who puts on regular arts and culture events.
There are two stages in getting involved:
Stage 1 – venues and spaces
As a venue or outdoor space manager, you can sign up to say that you are happy for a group of people to have a tour of your space. You are also welcome to show any hospitality features, and discuss what events you would like to see held in your venue. Refreshments are not mandatory, but are always welcomed.
Stage 2 – event organisers and programmers
As an event organiser or programmer, you can sign up to be notified when venue and event spaces will be available to tour. You will be notified of when to arrive at the space or venue, and your hosts will show you around and answer any questions. Each tour will be supported by a member of the council’s Culture Team.
Problem: Venue X in Taunton has been approached by a national music tour – the fees are high, yet Venue X would love to put on this event. The tour also wants a minimum audience of 500 and Venue X’s venue is too small.
Solution: A local leisure centre can provide 500+ seats. A local college has a theatre with similar seats. The former Somerset West and Taunton area has various outdoor spaces that can be hired if it’s suitable for an outdoor event, which could mean selling more tickets. By joining our project and knowing what other spaces and venues offer, Venue X can then make an informed decision on how best to organise the event.
If you are interested and would like to be part of this programme, please sign up using the links above. Tours and visits will begin from mid-July onwards. You are not required to attend all tours, you can select which are the most relevant to you.
Tours will be trialled in the Taunton area initially, and if successful will be expanded to the former West Somerset area, however, everyone is invited to sign up should you wish to take part.
News on the Somerset-wide Cultural Strategy
Arts and culture across Somerset are set to benefit from the creation of a Somerset Cultural Strategy following a £30,000 grant awarded by Arts Council England.
Over the next year, the aim is to produce a five-year cultural strategy for the new unitary Somerset Council, which came into being in April 2023. Community priorities will be included with details of how the cultural identity of Somerset is promoted to ensure arts and culture are embedded at the heart of the new authority’s strategic plans.
The project will consider how to raise awareness and promote the role that culture and creativity can play in enriching communities and improving the quality of life, health, wellbeing and the local economy for Somerset residents, local businesses, and visitors.
It will also help to create new employment opportunities and raise the profile of the county’s vibrant creative sector.
As well as the grant from the Arts Council, £5,000 has also been committed towards the strategy from each of the former councils in Somerset – Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Council, Somerset West and Taunton Council and South Somerset District Council.
Councillor Federica Smith-Roberts, Somerset Council’s Executive Lead Member for Communities, said:
Somerset is blessed with vibrant artists and superb arts organisations, but it remains the case that while talent is everywhere opportunity is not. We see the huge amounts of talent in our county and the Somerset Cultural Strategy will provide us with a fresh starting point to explore how we unleash creativity across Somerset so everyone can benefit from the creative arts.
The Cultural Strategy will provide our new authority with an exciting vision of how the creative arts in Somerset could be transformed with world-class artists visiting our county, greater support for our local artists creating and working in the heart of our communities and opportunities for everyone to enjoy a diverse and exciting programme of arts and events.
The project is being led by the Arts and Entertainment Service of Somerset Council based at The Octagon Theatre and Westlands Entertainment Venue after the area was designated a ‘Priority Place’ by the Arts Council ,and included within the government’s Levelling Up for Culture Places. This follows the former South Somerset District Council’s commitment to developing The Octagon Theatre into a flagship cultural venue for the creative arts. The capital development of the theatre was awarded £10 million of DCMS funding that will be managed via the Arts Council.
Phil Gibby, Area Director, Arts Council England, South West, said:
‘We’re delighted that the new Somerset Council are making this commitment to culture and creativity. Exploring what the cultural offer can look like in Somerset for people living and working across the county and intending to embed that at the early stage of this newly formed unitary authority is admirable.
Culture and creativity make our lives better. It’s proven to boost civic pride and improve individual happiness – and clearly each of the existing councils in Somerset recognises its potential. We look forward to learning more about this strategy, which will help us to achieve our vision laid out in Let’s Create, our strategy designed to deliver new opportunities for every person in England to get creative and enjoy brilliant culture. Let’s Create recognises that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not, and aims to ensure that the creative talent of every person in every village, town, and city flourish’.
The Somerset Cultural Strategy will be prepared for the new council and the decision on whether it should be adopted, and funding opportunities pursued, will be decided by the new authority.
The Cultural Forum is an arena and opportunity for our trusted stakeholders and partners to come together to network, support and ensure that arts and culture is firmly on the agenda for Somerset going forward. The forum presents the space to collaborate, share ideas as well as giving the former Somerset West and Taunton area the opportunity to present essential updates and information relating to the sector.
We will be holding forums on a quarterly basis. If you would like to join or request further information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cultural Development newsletters
You can sign up to receive the newsletter via email. Select ‘Culture’ under notifications.
You can view the most recent version and our archives for our Cultural Development newsletters:
Cultural Development News: December 2021
Cultural Development News: January 2022
Cultural Development News: February 2022
Cultural Development News: March 2022
Cultural Development News: May 2022
Cultural Development News: June 2022
Cultural Development News: July 2022
Cultural Development News: August 2022
Cultural Development News: November 2022
Cultural Development News: Firepool Masterplan – November 2022
Somerset West and Taunton area Events And Things To Do calendar launched
Somerset Council are pleased to announce the launch of a brand-new website which will provide free advertising and publicity for both Somerset Council, and privately organised events.
Created with funding from the former Somerset West and Taunton area ERDF Welcome Back Fund this tool can be used by all of our valued stakeholders and organisations to log events and populate a useful calendar for the former Somerset West and Taunton area.
If you encounter any problems, please email email@example.com