Smaller Government’ brings new helpline for arts organisations

In the current climate of public spending restraint, district councils are working together in innovative ways designed to provide the best results for customers, and the best value for council tax payers. 

The latest initiative announced by Winchester City Council and Havant Borough Council is the provision of a cross-boundary service to support arts organisations. The two councils have just published details of a new ‘commission’, which they believe will attract bids from cultural organisations to provide this service, bringing a fresh approach and a renewed focus on the needs of the sector.

Creative businesses, arts organisations and individual practitioners contribute significantly to the quality of life in both districts.  Local architects and designers work on international projects generating revenue for the economy.  Arts venues provide variety for a night out or holiday entertainment, and showcase the best of local or national talent.  Festivals and special events generate all-important footfall for local shops and eateries, as well a chance to socialise with family and friends.  Specialist arts organisations can give new skills to young people seeking jobs in a competitive market place, including confidence, communication and team working abilities.  And visual artists can add colour and fun to our streets, play areas and countryside.

The arts sector is well regarded in both districts, and both councils are committed to maintaining support for their arts communities in the face of cutbacks. The councils are seeking to test out this new style of service from October 2012 until the end of June 2012, with a review at the end of the period to help determine the success of this approach.

The two councils are currently inviting bids through the South East Business Portal (put commission on SE Bus Portal) from organisations interested in providing the service.  A full specification can be found of the Business Portal.

Cllr Patricia Stallard, Winchester City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Culture, Heritage and Sport commented: “These are exciting times. The economic climate has really challenged us to look again at the way we have operated traditionally and to encourage new approaches. We are particularly pleased that our colleagues at Havant Borough Council have chosen to work with us from the outset.”
For an informal discussion about the commission, contact Eloise Appleby, Assistant Director (Economic Prosperity) on 01962 848 181 or email