Cultural strategy doesn’t sound too exciting. Planning, future-proofing, sustainability amid mission statements... it’s not the ride of your life. Having one is, however, key if Herefordshire wants theatre, music, and nightlife to be proud of, buoyed by enriched education and accessible art.
We’ve witnessed the rise of a new food culture, measured by the swell of new restaurants arriving in Hereford. Now it's tipping point for long term cultural strategy as a legion of determined arts leaders, organisations, charities and companies come together to figure out what Herefordshire's culture means above and beyond cattle and apples.
Kate La Barre is a champion for Herefordshire Cultural Partnership (HCP), the group behind the Hereford City of Culture 2021 bid, and project lead for Creative Connections Herefordshire, a new network designed to get under 25s engaged with county arts and culture.
Below, Kate waxes lyrical about why the groups formed and what they're trying to achieve.
Next week, we’ll meet Create Associates, the agency appointed by HCP to develop a cultural strategy for Herefordshire and talk to Rural Media about their new ‘Digital Roots’ project, which just secured £37.8k from Arts Council England, to run host summits for artists and technologists.
Tile and banner image from 2Faced Dance Summer Break workshop, 2016. Photo by Tchad Blake.
What is Creative Connections Herefordshire?
Creative Connections Herefordshire (CCH) is a brand new network for creative arts organisations who work with the under 25s.
It crosses heritage and culture with ambitious plans to extend its membership to the voluntary, mental health and well-being sectors. The network will also align itself to education and training so in essence it becomes a Cultural Educational Partnership – this kind of partnership existed across most local authorities throughout the UK but as we are all well aware, councils have cut back and many completely eradicated their cultural offer.
The fundamental aim of the partnership is to create opportunities that inspire young people in Herefordshire through arts, heritage and cultural activities; in their school, communities and where they live.
We want more young people, engaging with more arts and cultural activity with greater impact on their lives – by collaborating, pooling the outstanding creative and professional talent, we start to become a powerful network.
Above: Hereford's Shooting Reels filming with The Beefy Boys, November 2016.
Above: 2Faced Dance's summer break workshop, 2016. Photo: Tchad Blake.
It’s all come about because a bunch of arts organisations got round a table about 18 months ago – it was called, Herefordshire Children & Young People’s Arts and Cultural Network (catchy title!). They identified a real need for a co-ordinated network, someone to lead the project, steer its strategic direction and facilitate new collaboration.
They even commissioned a report, funded by Arts Connect and The Elmley Foundation, which gave a deeper insight into the current landscape and what needed to be addressed. What followed was an invitation to tender, to lead the network for an initial two-years, again funded by Arts Connect and Elmley Foundation.
Hereford College of Arts was appointed as the project lead and work started in earnest early December with a launch event of Creative Connections Herefordshire.
So, what are we going to do next?
Well, there’s a real appetite to collaborate on something ‘big’ and build on the fantastic programmes that are already being delivered.
We are going to increase the partnership and go for consortium funding, we are going to support schools and help bridge the gap in creative education, we are going to provide a one-stop shop and profile all the amazing organisations and practitioners that work in Herefordshire with young people and make it really easy for schools to engage - and, we are also going to celebrate great practice and success.
The first working group meets at the end of Feb so watch this space what a ‘big idea’ might look like.
We also need to make the network more visible by getting a website up and running as well as social media and a blog.
I’ve been really inspired by the terrific networks around in other sectors such as the voluntary services, health & well-being and youth services - fantastic testament to the resilience and power of coming together.
Imagine what we can do when all our networks seamlessly collaborate.
Fantastic turnout this evening at Herefordshire Cultural Partnership network meeting. A room full of shared vision and future for the county. Thanks for coming everyone #herefordshire #hereford2021 #weneedyoursupport #herewego #cityofculture #arts #heritage #culture @meadowarts @2faceddance @courtyard_arts @rural_media @herefordarts @dash_andot Please add if you cane along
What is the Herefordshire Cultural Partnership (HCP)?
This is the group driving the City of Culture bid.
Abigail Appleton, principal of Hereford College of Arts is vice chair of the partnership, a dynamic consortium of arts, culture and heritage groups, local government and businesses with a shared vision.
The group is ensuring that all the great plans and preparation for the City of Culture bid live beyond the bid, win or not. They’ve also commissioned a major piece of research and consultation to write the Cultural Strategy for the county over the next 10 years.
There are other projects in the making too including an Arts Council Great Places bid – winning this one (I think we are in with a good chance) will mean some serious funding coming into the county, over and above City of Culture.
For more info on on Creative Connections Herefordshire email Kate La Barre at firstname.lastname@example.org.