Colchester Borough Council (CBC) have appointed Counterculture to work with them and the borough’s cultural and creative community in developing an ambitious new cultural strategy.
The new strategy, a commitment in the council’s Strategic Plan, is due to be completed by the end of the year and will cover the rest of the decade to 2030. Drawing on all spectrums of the borough’s cultural landscape it will include the arts, creative industries, heritage and the public realm and will also take into consideration links to green spaces, tourism and events.
Through wide ranging consultation individuals, communities and organisations across the borough will be invited to contribute to and engage with the development of the strategy in the coming months.
From established arts and culture to grass roots and community activity, assets and aspirations, across the whole geographical spread of Colchester it’s a project which will build upon and bring together the area’s existing cultural assets and strengths.
Against the backdrop of the recent investment of £18.2 million from the Town Deal Fund which will deliver long-term economic growth for Colchester, the strategy provides an opportunity to feed the planning for this into the re-opening and long-term success of our thriving cultural sector.
Working in collaboration with partners including Arts Council England, our local National Portfolio Organisations, the Creative Colchester Partnership, the University of Essex, the Colchester BID plus others, it will present a positive vision for the post Covid future of arts and culture across Colchester.
Councilor Julie Young, Portfolio Holder for Culture and Performance and Deputy Leader of the Council said “This is a significant milestone in the creation of an ambitious and exciting plan for the borough. As work continues, the public will be consulted and will help shape the strategy, therefore delivering what the borough wants and needs.
“A sum of £20,000 has been agreed to deliver the strategy which although a hard decision in these difficult times, is a vital lifeline to the cultural economy and heritage of the borough. It will bring many benefits, including extra funding, and the timing is important given the need to build back following Covid19 and with the opportunities afforded by the Town Deal regeneration.
“We are delighted to appoint Counterculture to help us deliver the strategy and look forward to working closely with them alongside our funded organisations to develop and support the whole industry from grass roots upwards. We have a cultural heritage to be proud of and this new appointment takes us one step closer to creating our ambitious plans.”
Steve Mannix, Executive Director The Mercury Theatre said: “We are delighted to be working with CBC on the development of this new strategy. Pre-Covid, locally and nationally the creative industries were one of the fastest growing parts of the economy. This strategy will ensure that Colchester benefits from the long-term economic and social benefits that the arts can offer evidenced by other towns and cities across the UK.”
Sally Shaw MBE, Director of Firstsite Colchester said: “A new cultural strategy is a significant step forward for everyone in Colchester. Firstsite will continue to work closely with CBC to shape and implement the strategy to the benefit of everyone in the borough. Colchester has been a cultural melting pot for centuries. This strategy will build on our rich heritage and catapult us into an even brighter future.”
Anthony Roberts, Director of The Arts Centre, Colchester said: “We will be working closely with CBC and Counterculture over the coming months to ensure that everyone across the borough involved in in the industry has their voice heard and considered. I whole heartedly welcome the strategy and the opportunity to be involved.”
Tom Wilcox, Senior Partner & Founder, Counterculture said: “We are honoured to have been appointed to work with CBC, the people of Colchester and its creative community to deliver the borough’s new cultural strategy. Colchester, including the wider borough is a dynamic and vibrant place, steeped in cultural history and still greater potential. Being from Colchester myself, I am particularly delighted to be entrusted with this project.”