Chair of Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, will visit Gloucester next week to find out about plans to grow Gloucester’s cultural scene. 

Sir Nicholas will begin his visit to the city in Matson to meet arts organisation Culture Matson, and see examples of the work they have done with Create Gloucestershire and Strike A Light, which runs the popular Strike A Light Festival. Both Create Gloucestershire and Strike A Light, recently joined the Arts Council’s National Portfolio which means they are recognised as being among the UK’s most high quality arts organisations.

Sir Nicholas will hear first hand how the GL4 Festival, a new creative enterprise based on the estate, has developed inter-generational performances for local people and the impact this is having on health and educational opportunities.

He will then visit Gloucester Cathedral, home to Project Pilgrim, where he will meet with representatives from the city council including leader, Councillor Paul James, who is also Chair of Marketing Gloucester, and other key partners involved in Gloucester’s cultural calendar including Gloucester Culture Trust, and Gloucester Heritage Forum.

Sir Nicholas will be given a taste of what’s planned for the year including a growing number of events such as the Aethelflaed festival in June devoted to the Anglo Saxon warrior queen and Gloucester Rooftop an innovative season of concerts, theatre and music on car park rooftops. He will also hear about August’s King’s Jam festival of urban music and dance and the Festival of Winter including The Snow Queen and her Winter Wonderland at Blackfriars.

In addition, Sir Nicholas will find out about the city’s work with the Roundhouse in London, a partnership between Gloucester Culture Trust, Gloucester Guildhall, The Music Works and Strike A Light that has already resulted in hundreds of young people taking part in new dance, music and music technology clubs across the city.

The visit taking place on Monday (May 14) is a chance for those gathered to give a flavour of how culture is shaping the future of the city, with the support for young creatives to be offered at a new Creative Entrepreneurs’ Hub and the plans for the Kings Quarter development that will involve artists throughout the process.

It follows last year’s Great Place award that was given to Gloucester by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England and saw the city receive £1.49 million over three years to help boost culture and the arts.

Leader of Gloucester City Council, Councillor Paul James said: “Gloucester is fast developing a name for cultural activities and it is a key priority for the city council to make sure that the city is a vibrant place to live in and to visit. The creative industries, which is a key contributor to the UK’s economy, also provides a wealth of opportunities for young people and if we can develop the cultural offer and the talent we have here in this city it can also be a driver for economic growth and regeneration.”

Hollie Smith-Charles of Gloucester Culture Trust, said: “Gloucester is a young, diverse city with huge potential and a clear strategy for how we will put ourselves on the cultural map. We are delighted to welcome Sir Nicholas and to share our progress, partnerships and future ambitions with him.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “The city of Gloucester is quietly but powerfully beginning to emerge as a cultural centre, stemming from its diverse and community based sector. I am pleased to be visiting to learn more about the city’s ambitious and exciting plans.

“And I am delighted that the Arts Council has recently deepened their commitment to Gloucestershire’s rich cultural life, both urban and rural, by increasing spending in the county to around £4.6 million in funding for 2018-22 – an increase of 15%.

“The funding builds on the investment made through the Great Place scheme and will help consolidate the partnerships, talent development opportunities and artistic ambition required to develop a truly thriving cultural scene.”

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