Mayoral welcome for new cultural network

Press Release: 16/09/2014

Stephen Boyce and Cllr Rob Humby

The inaugural meeting of a new cultural network for the Winchester District was hosted by the Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Eileen Berry, at Abbey House yesterday (15 September).

Around 45 local practitioners, creative businesses and cultural organisations based in the Winchester District attended. The opening speech was given by Leader of the Council, Cllr Rob Humby, whose portfolio includes both economic development and the arts.

The development of a local network was a key recommendation in the Council’s Cultural Strategy approved earlier this year, called Culture, Innovation and the Creative Economy.

The network will provide opportunities for information-sharing, collaborative working, joint funding bids and lobbying. Meetings will take place once every two months, organised by different cultural organisations in the District. Although the inaugural meeting was hosted by Winchester City Council, the network is owned and run by the sector. Theatre Royal Winchester, Umbrella, University of Winchester and Southampton University’s Winchester School of Art are among those who will be hosting forthcoming meetings.

The first meeting took creative workspace as its theme, with many practitioners around the District keen to find space for production, rehearsal, workshops and display. The agenda featured three presentations about local initiatives to provide much-needed additional space.

The first meeting also included a send-off for the Council’s former Arts Advisor, arts and heritage consultant Stephen Boyce. Stephen has been commissioned by the Council for nearly three years to work with arts businesses and organisations help them with grant applications, business development and capacity-building. He and his wife are now moving to Dorset – although he will still be very much in touch with Winchester through his professional, cultural and social links, including the new Poetry Festival which took place last weekend.

He said:

Working with Winchester’s artists, theatre-makers, dancers, writers, musicians and others has been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding assignments I’ve had. This pool of richly creative and enterprising talent is of extraordinary value to the City and District, and it has been a privilege to help build the conditions in which, hopefully, Winchester’s arts community can flourish. Thank you to everyone who has let me into their creative world.”

Cllr Rob Humby, added

Our Cultural Strategy clearly sets out the links between a thriving cultural sector and a strong economy in the Winchester District. As a Council, we are keen to help ensure that a ‘made in Winchester’ label guarantees an innovative and high quality cultural experience for local residents, and for visitors from across the UK and beyond. I look forward to seeing how the new network develops, and expect it to provide a useful vehicle for local creatives to test out new ideas or find new partners for collaboration.

The Council is currently putting in place a number of new forms of support for the sector, including advice and training from Community First, direct support from Council officers and special arts ‘clinics’.

The Cultural Network itself offers a forum for peer support and advocacy. Attendance at network events is open to all those with an interest in arts and culture. The mailing list is held by the Council: to be added, contact Carol Hussey on 01962 848 303 or email .