Residents and visitors in local towns and villages across South Somerset will be able to better connect with arts and culture activities following the completion of South Somerset District Council’s 10-year Arts Engagement & Outreach Strategy.
The strategy provides fresh, ambitious and innovative approaches to engage with the public and sets out a strategic vision for the Arts Engagement & Outreach department within the Arts & Entertainment Service, a discretionary service owned, managed and funded South Somerset District Council.
The Arts Engagement & Outreach Strategy enables us to deliver our vision for The Octagon Theatre and Westlands Entertainment Venue, which is to be an inclusive, exciting cultural hub, rooted in an excellent venue, actively serving communities across the district.
Over the last twelve months, we have been researching, consulting with partners and listening to users and non-users of our service to develop our Arts Engagement & Outreach Strategy. Our Arts Engagement & Outreach Strategy, covering 2022-2032, outlines the focus of our outreach work over the next ten-years as organised around three key objectives.
These objectives will be used as points of reference to guide future Arts Engagement & Outreach programming decisions and focus resources. Over the coming years we will develop an Arts for Health & Wellbeing, Creative Learning & Participation, Programme Development & Commissioning, and Talent & Workforce Development programme.
Schemes to improve inclusion and remove geographical, social, economic, physical and psychological barriers to access will be at the heart of all our programmes.
In the first few years covered by this strategy, our work will be focused in South Somerset; which as well as being the location of our venues, is an area identified as part of the government’s levelling-up agenda. However, the reorganisation of local government in Somerset presents a vital opportunity for embedding culture and the creative arts in the new authority. The themes and approaches set out in this strategy can be replicated in other areas of need across the county if appropriate as we move to becoming a unitary authority, drawing on and merging with other cultural strategies in other districts as appropriate.
Our aim is to establish a thriving cultural scene within Somerset, with more opportunities for residents to interact with arts and cultural activities, from within our venues and in community locations where people live, work and meet.
Councillor Mike Best, Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing at South Somerset District Council, said: “I am delighted to be sharing with you our Arts Engagement & Outreach Strategy for the Arts & Entertainment Service at South Somerset District Council. This Arts Engagement & Outreach Strategy explores ways in which our service can embed arts and culture within our communities and support SSDC’s mission to build healthy communities that are cohesive, sustainable and enjoy a high quality of life supporting people in improving their own physical and mental health and wellbeing.
“The Arts Engagement & Outreach Strategy looks to make the creative arts more visible, relevant and accessible to all residents and visitors to South Somerset, to ensure we are activity serving South Somerset’s communities and positively contributing to the priorities of our local authority as we transition to the new Somerset Council. It is an ambitious document, the success of which will rely on partnership working and the commitment of the Arts & Entertainment Service.”
The Arts Engagement & Outreach Strategy (2022-2032) was made possible thanks to support from Arts Council England and South Somerset District Council.