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24 October 2023

Community Consultations at the heart of a new Culture Strategy

We've been commissioned to work with the Royal Borough of Greenwich on a new cultural development initiative.

With some of the UK’s most reputable venues, heritage sites, creative and cultural organisations in and around the Royal Borough of Greenwich, you could assume that Greenwich has more culture in its borough than most locations and you wouldn’t be wrong. Why then is the local authority commissioning a new Culture Strategy and how will it help increase engagement and develop the cultural offering for local communities alongside visitors?

Jo Dacombe, Head of Consultancy at Art Reach, is no stranger to long-term regional cultural development, as since 2020 “Greenwich will be the 4th regional cultural development initiative that we’ve led on, including strategies for Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, Fenland District Council and currently for the town of Banbury. All four places are very different and have varying needs, so our approaches reflect this by starting with strong consultation processes including local residents and organisations to make sure the strategy will be right for the specific place and its people. A Culture Strategy, when developed on a regional or borough-wide basis, particularly one that is built-on community and sector-relevant consultations, can be a source of significant benefits for organisations and local communities. This type of long-term creative vision aims to spark the development of new initiatives and partnerships in the local creative sector. Consulting local communities gives organisations that deliver creative opportunities, projects and events in the area a better understanding of what their local audiences are interested in. Increased opportunities for cultural development through a combined vision also attracts more funding and other resources, in turn creating more engagement opportunities for local people. It’s great to be able to help develop a strategy that will improve creative and cultural opportunities in the Royal Borough of Greenwich over the next decade or more!”

The Royal Borough of Greenwich council has just launched their bid for the Borough of Culture 2025/7, which is a fabulous focus for the local cultural and creative sector, yet, there are initiatives, creative partnerships and a creative future that can be explored that should stretch well beyond 2025/7. This is where the Culture Strategy sits, providing a long-term plan for local cultural and creative development that can be achieved with or without the Borough of Culture title.

A new Culture Strategy is not just for those who immerse themselves in high-end cultural activities but acknowledges that cultural engagement comes in many glorious forms and is experienced everywhere by everyone. The strategy will also ensure that people who live and work in the borough get the opportunity to steer this vision for the Royal Borough of Greenwich too.

Reflecting Arts Council England’s Let’s Create Strategy, which says that by 2030 we will live in “a country where every one of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences,” a contemporary Culture Strategy essentially aims for the same things on a local level, creating better opportunities, more sustainable engagement routes, more creative resources, more ways for individuals and communities to explore and celebrate creativity or culture regularly.

Though embedded in a locally relevant foundation, a Culture Strategy also raises ambitions for the larger organisations too, without a doubt, a good strategy should recognise and create opportunities at a grass roots level but it’s also about challenging those already at the forefront of local culture to aim higher. With events like the Greenwich and Docklands Festival and venues like the Royal Observatory based locally which already raise the borough’s national and international reputation, the skill lies in tying big ambition to local benefit, supplying artistic and creative opportunities for the professionals whilst exploring and celebrating the communities’ cultural heritage and creative ambitions.

Over the next few months, we’re leading public consultations in the local area. We’ve several chances to come to a round table discussion and an online survey for those who can’t attend in person.

We would like to hear more about your thoughts at one of our upcoming workshop sessions. Please book your free place using Eventbrite with the links below by Friday, 27 October, so we can plan the sessions accordingly.

The workshops will be held on:

Thursday 2 November, 1.00pm–2.30pm, Tramshed, Woolwich (Studio)

Thursday 2 November, 4.30pm–6.00pm, Abbey Wood Community Group Hall (Small Hall)

Wednesday 15 November, 1.30pm–3.00pm, West Greenwich Library

Wednesday 15 November, 6.00pm–7.30pm, Eltham Library

If you live, work or regularly spend time in the Royal Borough of Greenwich then please join us at a consultation. As places are limited, please be sure to book your space using the links above.

Two young children lean against a wall overlooking the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

Image: Fas Khan on Unsplash

A scooter drives passed the archway of Greenwich market.

Image: Michi H on Unsplash

An image of a street in Greenwich with the masts from the Cutty Sark ship appearing above the rooftops.

Image: Robert Likovszki on Unsplash