Presentation from Michael Cross – Head of Arts at InvestSK.
Michael Cross, Head of Arts at InvestSK, gave a presentation outlining the current status of the Cultural Strategy. The draft text of the Strategy was currently being written. When the draft was completed, it would be available to view on social media and the SKDC and InvestSK websites in order for public feedback to be received. Care was being taken to link together the four key areas of arts, heritage, sport and the sciences within the final document, as well as producing a simple and easy to read Strategy that could stimulate thought and conversation.
The next steps over the coming months would include completing the initial draft, collating artwork and images and sharing the document with the Cabinet Member for Culture and the Culture and Visitor Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Wider distribution would then begin in the new year; it was anticipated that a summary would be included in the February edition of SK Today in order to reach as many people as possible across the District. The overall aim was for the final document to be published in March 2020.
During the presentation, reference was made to the priorities identified by residents in the consultation undertaken earlier in the year. Residents had mentioned communication surrounding events as a priority for encouraging the public to engage with cultural activities moving forward. Other priorities to consider included the potential barrier of the availability of public transport, the timings of activities, the cost of events on offer and providing increased opportunity for local artists, clubs and community groups to meet and share ideas.
Members were asked if they had any comments on how these priorities could be addressed moving forward:
· Ensuring that there are not diary clashes when planning events.
· Making use of technology to improve communication and community reach around events. Members discussed the potential of an online platform being developed, whereby residents would be able to see a calendar of events and prices, buy tickets and volunteer for events. It was suggested that the platform could also be used to introduce residents to new art forms and potentially watch snippets of performances online to increase awareness about the types of opportunities on offer.
· Members discussed whether the voluntary sector may be able to support events by providing transport for residents in rural areas.
· Making use of further opportunities to take events to communities, working closely with local venues such as schools and village halls. Officers highlighted the Live and Local scheme, which allowed for reduced price events to be available in small local venues, bringing performances across a range of disciplines to local people. This provision was currently subsidised by the Arts Council and South Kesteven District Council funding locally.
· Providing a range of activities to cover all financial circumstances. Free activities were offered at the recently held festivals and it was suggested that this continue at future festivals. However, it was also noted that the cost of productions would need to be considered and that charging a fee (even a small amount) encouraged people to value the events being held, decreasing the likelihood of ticket holders not attending.
· Facilitating and promoting opportunities for artists, clubs and organisations to meet at Council-owned buildings. It was noted that there was a lot of enthusiasm for local individuals and groups to meet, but no-one to undertake the organising role in this currently. It was suggested that informal networking events could be held, with the aim that once regularity had been established with this, other local organisations could take the lead in continuing the initiative moving forward.
· Members discussed the InvestSK provision of the pop-up gallery in Grantham market place, which had a schedule of new artists using the space each week. Although it was in a small space, having such a provision in a busy area of the town had proved successful and contributed to creating more of a community atmosphere with the surrounding businesses. A similar project had also been successfully held in Deeping St James. It was suggested that this could be expanded to other areas in the District.
· The Wyndham Park Visitor Centre was also highlighted as an example of how the Council were currently supporting artists in the District. Volunteers had used stalls to sell local artist’s work and with 900,000 people visiting the park last year, this was another Council-owned building that could continue to be utilised to support cultural development within South Kesteven.
Ø The Cultural Strategy to include a communications and promotions strategy, with the potential of a cultural events portal provision to be investigated
Ø Networking events for local artists, societies and community groups to be facilitated and promoted by the Council and InvestSK, with consideration to be given to time and location to encourage maximum community engagement
Ø Ensure that the Cultural Strategy gives consideration to rate relief and sets out the criteria by which it will be considered for creative enterprises
The Committee was informed that draft documents for the Cultural Strategy would be shared in advance of its next meeting.