Specialist partners have been appointed to help develop a five-year cultural strategy for the new Somerset Council that comes into being in April 2023.
Arts Council England, in partnership with Somerset’s five councils – Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, and South Somerset district councils, plus Somerset County Council – have committed to invest in developing the strategy and have procured the services of cultural consultants, The Fifth Sector.
Since its foundation in 2011, The Fifth Sector has delivered more than 100 strategic and cultural projects, including cultural strategies and creative investment frameworks for Derby, Liverpool, Manchester, Rushmoor, South Yorkshire and Tees Valley.
Key aims and objectives of the strategy include:
- 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.
- To make sure that a cultural identity for arts and culture in Somerset is at the heart of the new authority’s strategic plans.
- To identify new job opportunities in culture and the creative industries and raise the profile of the county’s vibrant creative sector.
Cllr. Federica Smith Roberts, Somerset County Council’s Lead Member for Communities, said “The Somerset Cultural Strategy will define how, as an organisation, the new Somerset Council will deliver cultural activities to better the lives of residents and enhance our communities.
“I am delighted that work will commence through The Fifth Sector now to create a strategy ready for adoption when the new Council comes into effect in April 2023. Arts and Culture are important to help improve the quality of life, health, wellbeing and the local economy for Somerset residents, local businesses and visitors and I look forward to bringing the strategy in front of fellow councillors in 2023.”
Iain Bennett, Director of The Fifth Sector said: “This is a such an exciting opportunity to put the diversity and excellence of Somerset’s artists, creative businesses, cultural organisations and community partnerships at the heart of the new authority’s strategy and business plans. Our approach is all about making people central to placemaking – and this cultural strategy will provide the new Somerset unitary authority with the evidence and business plan to achieve just that.”
The project will be led by the Arts & Entertainment Service of South Somerset District Council based at The Octagon Theatre and Westlands Entertainment Venue, after the area was designated a ‘Priority Place’ by Arts Council England and included within the government’s Levelling Up for Culture places.
The process will begin with an intensive review of existing arrangements followed by analysis and, in mid-September, with opportunities for people to have their say on relevant issues and topics. In October, a direct consultation will be launched focusing on issues people have highlighted as important.