City arts and culture community celebrates with Exeter Culture
More than 150 people from the city’s arts and culture sector came together to mark the launch of Exeter Culture at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) on 13 September.
During the sell-out event, Lara Goodband, Exeter Culture Director, and Nikki Sved, Chair of the Steering Committee, unveiled a new name, branding and website to reflect changes in the organisation’s strategy and direction.
“You are Exeter Culture,” Lara told a packed audience at RAMM. “It’s nothing without all the work you do.” Explaining the role of the organisation, she said: “We connect and encourage and stage the conversations necessary to get things done, and done in ways that couldn’t have happened if we’d worked on our own.”
One of the largest gatherings of the city’s arts and culture community for many years, the event was a chance for Exeter’s arts and culture makers, curators, leaders and decision-makers to meet, network and hear from each other.
It featured presentations by three of the city’s regularly funded arts organisations (Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisations): Helen Hartstein of RAMM, Matt Burrows of Exeter Phoenix and Seth Honnor of Kaleider. Each outlined past projects and future plans to put Exeter on the cultural map, and connect the city nationally and internationally.
The audience also heard from Chloe Whipple of Women of the World (WOW), Phil Wickham of the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, Stephen Hodge of Exeter University Arts & Culture, Paula Crutchlow of Blind Ditch, Lisa Vanstone representing InExeter (Business Improvement District) and JP Hedge of Exeter City Council on the Lost Weekend festival.
Contributions from the city’s creative practitioners included Dr John’s DJ set and Exeter Northcott Young Company. Preston Street Union launched a surprise intervention in the museum’s Garden Reception with a performance of Galleries R Us featuring Lucia Harley.
An interactive display invited ideas about what the future of Exeter’s culture might look like by asking guests to complete the sentence ‘What if…”. Suggestions ranged from turning empty shops into artists’ studios to listening more to young people.
After the event, Exeter Culture Chair Nikki Sved said: “It was wonderful to see such a strong turnout for the event – a real testament to the cultural work that's happening in the city, and the commitment to its future. And it was fantastic to hear from such a variety of artists and organisations. But, of course, no launch is an end in itself. My great hope is that this is the start of a bigger conversation about how we work together to make sure that Exeter has a really vibrant and valued cultural life.”
The Exeter Culture launch received additional support from Sophie Allen, Arts & Events Manager at the Exeter City Council, and the Visit Exeter team.