Published on 4th July 2023

Grid of images showing cultural activities in Cheltenham

Cultural organisations from across Cheltenham have committed to working together as part of a new cultural strategy.

The strategy aims to build on the town’s reputation as a truly innovative creative place to live and visit.

Key aims include more collaboration between heritage, cultural and digital sectors, improving access and inclusion and nurturing our cultural offer for all of our communities.

The council continues to support culture and creativity in the town with an investment of over £1.9million. This is made up £1,725k spent annually to support cultural activities in seven of local cultural organisations, with an additional £190k made up of one-off community grants that have been allocated to 35 cultural projects, and a pot of £132k from developer contributions used to support public art in the town.

A new action plan also forms part of the new strategy, produced by Cheltenham Culture Board, setting out how the council and its partners can improve its cultural offer even further, to make the most of both national and international opportunities.

Cllr Max Wilkinson, cabinet member for economic development, culture, tourism and wellbeing, said: “Culture and creativity are the lifeblood of our town and our investment in the sector is currently worth more than £1.9m. Cultural events such as festivals and arts open days are hugely important in bringing people together. They contribute so much to Cheltenham’s tourism offer, people’s wellbeing, and the local economy.

“This new strategy is the work of so many partners. It is already bringing organisations together and will further build our credentials as a truly innovative creative place.

“Cheltenham is open to new thinking and ideas that can fuel creative innovation and I’m hugely excited to see our story of culture and creativity unfold.”

Andrew Lansley has been appointed the new culture board coordinator and will be working with the board to drive the strategy forward.

Ali Mawle, chair of Cheltenham Culture Board and co-CEO of Cheltenham Festivals, said: “The new culture board has made significant headway in building a strong alliance across Cheltenham’s cultural and creative communities. There is excitement about working together to make culture and creativity central to the economic and social life of Cheltenham so that everyone has the chance to thrive.

“Now that the strategy has been agreed, the board are creating an action plan which captures both the work that is underway and the future steps to delivering the strategic objectives.”

Cheltenham’s Culture Board is currently working up an action plan which includes commitments to work collectively to explore funding and planning options for the delivery of Cheltenham’s Holst 150th celebrations in 2024, building a collaborative approach to improving accessibility and inclusion of cultural events and venues and engaging the wider community and grassroots talent in its wider strategy and action plan via a public meeting.

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Cheltenham Culture Board is chaired by Cheltenham Festivals.

The board brings together a range of partners and all the key cultural organisations in the town.

Its vision is:

Cheltenham is a vibrant place and cultural destination where the fusion of arts, digital and heritage innovation fosters creative and inclusive communities where everyone has the chance to thrive.’

To meet this cultural vision the board has agreed six objectives that provide the focus for this strategy.

  • Forge partnerships and collaboration across the heritage, cultural and digital sectors.
  • Use culture and creativity to improve the life chances of our young people.
  • Promote equity of opportunity to help build inclusive and creative communities.
  • Celebrate and nurture our community, grass-roots creative talents and ambitions.
  • Drive our visitor economy and wider place brand.
  • Use culture, creativity and innovation to contribute to the Cheltenham Zero and work collectively to address the climate emergency.

These objectives form the basis of the board’s action plan that is under development.