An Open Letter: Supporting Exeter’s expression of interest to the ‘Great Place Scheme’

Published September 2, 2016


Exeter bids to win £1.5m cultural funding in Great Place Scheme

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. You can read the open letter below.

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.’

An Open Letter

Supporting Greater Exeter’s expression of interest to the ‘Great Place Scheme’

The Great Place Scheme has been launched by Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England. Expressions of interest are being sought from across the country to be awarded one of the 12 pilot places in the Scheme to run 2017-20. This presents not only an opportunity for investment in culture, but also a chance to take advice from national bodies, to learn from and share with others, in a genuinely collaborative way.

We know that participation in the arts and creativity, heritage and the historic environment is positive for communities; we understand the value of culture in improving the quality of people’s lives. This is a chance to innovate and nurture talent; to establish new collaborations and strengthen existing ones. It is a superb opportunity to look to the future and ensure this part of the world remains an exceptional place in which to live, learn, love and grow. This Scheme presents a great opportunity to build on the good work that has gone before.

It is extremely relevant not only to the greater Exeter area, but the surrounding communities for the following reasons:

  • It allows locally defined areas to formulate new collaborations for culture, to encourage more engagement in heritage, arts and creative activity
  • It builds on the existing strengths within the local arts, culture and heritage sectors in order to maximise their positive cultural, social and economic contribution
  • The Scheme will help develop collaboration so that the contribution of culture is recognised in and supported by long-term plans for the area – including health and wellbeing, economic development and destination management.
  • It complements the Arts Council ‘place-making’ agenda that the Exeter Cultural Partnership was established to develop
  • There is a natural fit with the city’s Cultural Action Plan and with Exeter City Council’s prioritising of culture within economic development
  • Many cultural organisations based in Exeter reach far and wide across Devon and beyond. We want to do more of that and do it well.

Exeter Cultural Partnership, which has representation from across arts, education, food, health, heritage, libraries, museums, retail and sport, is fully supportive of making a bid. Exeter City Council is taking a lead role in making the case and is inviting neighbouring District Councils to collaborate in this endeavour.

The Scheme not only offers additional funding; it also provides a framework for us to try a more joined-up and sustainable model of engaging people from across our local government areas with culture. It will allow us to learn from, and share with, each other.

Our part of the world is a great place to be, where people from town or country, city or seaside can come together. Let’s make it together – let’s make a great case for the Great Place Scheme.

v Celia Atherton OBE, Vice Chair of Scope
v Rt Hon Ben Bradshaw MP
v Alasdair Cameron, Managing Director, Exeter Cathedral
v Andy Cooper, Editor, Devon Life; Group Editor South West, Archant
v Stuart Crewes, Creative Director, Art Week Exeter
v Patrick Cunningham, Director, Exeter Phoenix
v Councillor Rosie Denham, Lead Member for Economy & Culture, Exeter City Council
v Ciara Eastell, Chief Executive, Libraries Unlimited
v Councillor Pete Edwards, Leader of Exeter City Council
v Matt Evans, Chief Executive, Active Devon
v Councillor Nigel Grimshire, Cranbrook Town Council
v Camilla Hampshire, Museums Manager & Cultural Lead, Royal Albert Memorial Museum
v Karime Hassan, Chief Executive, Exeter City Council
v Victoria Hatfield, Economy & Tourism Manager, Exeter City Council
v Liz Hill, Director, Daisi
v Professor Stephen Hodge, Director of Arts & Culture, University of Exeter
v Jenny How, Director, Visit Dartmoor Organization
v Jo Hunter, Co-founder, 64 Million Artists
v Paul Jepson, Artistic & Executive Director, Exeter Northcott Theatre
v John Laramy, Principal & Chief Executive, Exeter College
v David Lockwood, Director, The Bike Shed Theatre
v Claire McLaughlin, Business Director, Double Elephant Print Workshop
v Jay Milling, Chair, Exeter Cultural Partnership
v Michael Morpurgo OBE FRSL
v Sarah O’Brien, South West External Affairs Manager, National Trust
v Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health, Devon County Council
v Derek Phillips, Vice President, Exeter Chamber of Commerce and Chairman, Heart of Devon Area Tourism Partnership
v Mattie Richardson, Chair, Fore Street Collective and Board Member, Exeter Business Improvement District
v Rhys Roberts, Chair, Visit Devon
v David Savill, Chairman, Exeter Chamber of Commerce & Industry
v Phillip Smart, General Manager, Killerton Estate, National Trust
v Sarah Stride, Acting General Manager, Visit South Devon
v Lady Studholme, Chair, Board of Trustees, Exeter Northcott Theatre
v Nikki Sved, Artistic Director, Theatre Alibi
v Julian Tagg, Chairman, Exeter City Football Club
v Dr Janet Tall, Head of Archives & Local Studies, South West Heritage Trust
v Martin Thomas, Culture Director, Exeter Cultural Partnership
v Dr Phil Wickham, Curator, The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, University of Exeter