Exeter launches a new five-year ‘place-based’ cultural strategy

Exeter Culture has overseen a process for the development of the city’s first ‘place-based strategy’ for culture. The strategy has been commissioned on behalf of funding partners including Exeter City Council, Arts Council England, University of Exeter, Exeter College and InExeter (Business Improvement District).

Exeter Culture contracted the services of Tom Fleming Creative Associates to deliver the strategy. Tom Fleming has experience of delivering strategies to a range of cities globally. The work involved in-depth consultation with the cultural sector and other leading sectors across the city and region, engaging more than 150 people in the process. As a result, the strategy is the product of these discussions, workshops and conversations.

Colleagues from the arts, education and business sectors joined Exeter Culture for the launch of the Strategy at an event hosted by Exeter College on 10 July. Photo by Rhodri Cooper

Colleagues from the arts, education and business sectors joined Exeter Culture for the launch of the Strategy at an event hosted by Exeter College on 10 July. Photo by Rhodri Cooper

The strategy sets out a vision to enable culture to work with and through key areas that are relevant for people and communities in and around the city. It calls for Exeter ‘to be known nationally and internationally as a city of culture; a city that will innovate and lead in the areas of the environment, wellbeing, cultural literacy, creative making and heritage innovation to build a living city where everyone thrives.’

The strategy identifies five Overarching Themes:

· City of Culture for the Environment

· City of Cultural Wellbeing

· City of Heritage Innovation

· City of Making

· City of Cultural Literacy and leaning

Each theme has key actions that set clear deliverable targets. Additionally, the strategy recommends a range of cross-cutting priorities, including: the creative case for diversity; enhancing governance; audience development and engagement; invigorating partnerships; internationalisation; communication; evaluation; nurturing talent; and urban and rural connections.

Commenting on the strategy, Dom Jinks, Director of Exeter Culture, says: “I am delighted that the city has a cultural strategy that, rather than trying to duplicate other city plans, plays to its own unique strengths. We are at a time when the importance of the environment and people’s wellbeing are ever more present, both locally and globally. Through focussing on creative making and heritage, we will also hopefully grow the number of cultural projects, festivals and programmes to make Exeter and the region a vibrant cultural location. This strategy will also help enable funding and investment, and it is often a prerequisite when bidding for large programmes or funds.”

Sarah Crown, Arts Council England’s Director of Literature and the South West, says: “Exeter Culture’s strategy manages to be at once ambitious and forward-looking, but at the same time practical, partnership-based and absolutely grounded in the city of Exeter. The strategy, and the five themes around which it’s built, demonstrate a deep grasp and appreciation of Exeter’s particular strengths and challenges, and the ways in which cultural activity can amplify and address them. We’re proud to have been able to support its development, and we look forward to working in partnership with Exeter Culture to support them in the delivery of it over the next five years.”

Cllr Rachel Sutton, Deputy Leader of Exeter City Council and Portfolio Holder for Climate & Culture, says: “Through city-wide partnerships, we will be able to achieve results that were not possible on our own. This Strategy sets a course for these ambitions, and identifies the possibilities that exist for us to play to the strengths of Exeter’s people, organisations and talent.”

You can download the strategy – in both long-form and concise PDF format – from the Library of Downloads page under Resources: exeterculture.com/library-of-downloads

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