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Cultural Strategy lends boost to creative economy

13 January 2023 : Council news, Art and culture, Community

Progress of Somerset West and Taunton (SWT) Council’s Cultural Strategy has been revealed with the completion of a 12-month impact report.

SWT’s Cultural Strategy was adopted in late 2021 with the aim of growing a vibrant, creative and culturally rich environment for Taunton Garden Town and the district at large. It supports the Council’s strategic commitment to enhance the district’s art and culture provision in line with its Corporate Strategy 2020-2024.

With a £200,000 budget dedicated to arts and culture, the Cultural Strategy has made a significant impact to the creative economy.

Over the past 12 months, SWT has engaged with 89 creative businesses and organisations, of which those that received funding generated £949,692 in income or match funding from other agencies. According to a 2019 report for Arts Council England, for every £1 generated by the local arts and culture industry, £1.14 of Gross Value Added is supported in the wider economy, meaning an additional £1,082,648 was generated in Somerset West and Taunton.

Furthermore, for every £1 of the £200,000 spent, an additional £5.41 has been generated for organisations and the economy.

Of the SWT-funded organisations and businesses, 995 events comprising theatre, visual arts, workshops, dance, comedy and music were held and attended by 156,131 visitors and local people, including festivals for Wellington Film, Sound of the Streets and Taunton Live and Pride. Other events, which were organised directly by the Council and worthy of note, include Taunton Minster's Museum of the Moon and Vivary Park's Big Jubilee Lunch, attracting a combined audience of 25,000 people.

In July 2022, SWT revived an underutilised 17th Century Manor House in Taunton, converting it into a new space for cultural and creative activities known as Flook House Arts Hub. To date, the Arts Hub has hosted 55 events involving 513 people, 6 schools, 19 businesses and 10 community groups, as well as facilitating the creation of 15 new partnerships working with national agencies.

Executive Member for Culture, Cllr Caroline Ellis, said: “We're blessed with a diverse mix of creativity in Somerset West and Taunton, and we’re committed to enhancing this provision so everyone, regardless of their income, background or where they live, can enjoy inclusive and relevant culture.

“Our culture, whether in the form of theatre, visual art, comedy, music, stories, film or dance, defines who we are and by investing strategically in the creative industry, not only do we enrich our communities and the economy, but we’re also preserving our rich heritage for future generations to inherit and build upon.

“As a council, we're the lynchpin of a strong partnership of districtwide arts and culture groups determined to build on this richness and I’m delighted with the progress we’ve made implementing our Cultural Strategy, setting us on a path to a more prosperous district and better quality of life for all.”

For more details about the achievements made, the 12-month impact report has been summarised in a presentation video available at youtu.be/wgMLItZEaak.

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