Culture boom as Portsmouth and Gosport are named 'priority areas' for major development by Arts Council England

A CULTURAL boom is on the cards after Portsmouth and Gosport were hailed as ‘priority locations’ for the future development of Britain’s arts industry.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 12:01 am
Pictured: Henry VIII impersonator at the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The two communities have been identified as one of 54 key sites nationally as part of Arts Council England’s ambitious three-year ‘Let’s Create’ plan to boost cultural offerings in ‘underserved areas’.

Announced today, the strategy will see Arts Council England forging deeper ties with organisations across Portsmouth and Gosport to develop ‘new opportunities for increased investment in culture’.

The vision is part of a major campaign to help the arts industry and local communities in their fight to recover following the coronavirus pandemic.

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Portsmouth Pride 2019 by Johnny Black www.johnnyblackphotography.co.uk www.facebook.com/Johnnyblackphotography

News of the area’s ‘priority status’ has been welcomed by civic chiefs, who said it had the potential to regenerate the region and boost prospects.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Portsmouth City Council’s leader, said: ‘It is great news Arts Council England has recognised Portsmouth as an area it wants to work more closely with.

‘We're looking forward to strengthening our relationship with them going forward to benefit Portsmouth residents and businesses and help realise our aspirations of culture-led regeneration in the city.’

In all, 11 locations in the south west region – including Portsmouth and Gosport – have been earmarked for cultural support. Also on the list is the Isle of Wight.

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Arts chiefs decided on the locations based on a number of factors, including previous investment levels, cultural engagement and local ambitions for future developments.

The arts council said priority place status would recognise ‘the need for increased development’ and would give ‘more people the opportunity to enjoy excellent cultural experiences in their communities’.

‘As we recover from the pandemic, creativity and culture will play a key part in helping level up the country, as well as helping to rebuild economies and address social, health and well-being inequalities,’ a spokesman added.

‘The aim in Let’s Create is to increase focus on specific places underserved in the past. Priority places are just one of the ways in which the arts council is committed to levelling up and deepening its place-based approach by strengthening cultural and creative opportunities in a targeted way.’

Darren Henley, chief executive at Arts Council England, said the new plan would ‘build on’ the ‘spirit of imagination and innovation’ developed by cultural and heritage organisations during the pandemic.

Phil Gibby, Arts Council England area director for the south west, added: ‘By joining forces in this way, we hope to ensure that more people in our region have the opportunity to take part in creativity in the places where they live and work, and to experience for themselves the power of culture to bring people together, support local economies, and make lives better.’

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