Exeter is looking to secure £1.5 million of grant funding to make heritage and arts in the city and beyond even greater than it is now.
The City Council – working alongside the Exeter Cultural Partnership – is to submit an expression of interest to the Great Place Scheme.
Launched by Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Historic England, the Great Place Scheme is offering up £1.5 million to 12 pilot areas to enhance arts and cultural activities. In addition, the national cultural bodies of HLF, Historic England and the Arts Council will provide advice and support to the successful ‘Great Places’. The scheme will run from 2017 to 2020.
Exeter City Council and Exeter Cultural Partnership believe that the strong and distinctive cultural offer in the city can act as a focal point for a ‘greater Exeter’ Great Place. Many organisations based in the city serve a much wider area, Exeter has one of the highest pro rata commuter populations in England and the City Council recognises the value of culture in improving the quality of peoples’ lives and the local economy. Exeter is also one of only five ‘Archaeological Areas of Importance’ in the country as designated by Historic England, and the only one in the south west.
Part of a successful Exeter-led application will include plans to support cultural participation in rural areas in collaboration with organisations elsewhere in Devon.
The Council is working with Exeter Cultural Partnership and others to submit an expression of interest by 6 October. The cultural bodies will then assess these and invite the strongest expressions of interest to submit fully worked-up plans by the New Year.
Competition for the Scheme is expected to be tough. To encourage support for the expression of interest, an Open Letter has been written and endorsed by over thirty organisations and prominent individuals including author Michael Morpurgo OBE, Ben Bradshaw MP, Andy Cooper (Editor of Devon Life), the National Trust and leaders of arts, heritage, tourism and cultural organisations.
Martin Thomas, Culture Director, Exeter Cultural Partnership, said: “We know that this is a Great Place to live. There is talent and creativity in Exeter and the surrounding area. This new Scheme provides us with the chance to invest in that idea, to develop cultural organisations and better connect the heritage, arts and historic environment with strategic plans for the economy, health and well-being.”
Cllr Rosie Denham, Lead Councillor for Economy and Culture, said: “I’m proud of Exeter as a city for its exciting and emerging arts and cultural activities but there is potential to do so much more and further enrich the lives of not only those who live here but those that choose to visit this great city. If we were to be successful we could make arts and culture even greater in Exeter.”
For more information go to https://www.greatplacescheme.org.uk/.