Summary of Dorset’s Cultural Strategy 2021 to 2026


This Cultural Strategy is for the Dorset Council area of Dorset. It will play a key role in the recovery of our sector after the COVID pandemic of 2020/21. It will not only inform how Dorset Council will support the arts, heritage and culture sector in the future, but it will set out a united direction for all stakeholders, funders, cross sector partners, Parish and Town Councils, organisations and individuals in our county. This collaborative approach will significantly benefit our communities, visitors and the local economy.

We want the Cultural Strategy to drive positive change at the individual, sector and county level and to make culture more inclusive, accessible and visible for everyone in Dorset

Ultimately, we want our communities to feel proud of Dorset’s arts, heritage and cultural offer and for it to be shaped by our communities and that culture becomes woven into everyday life as an entitlement and not a privilege.

Who is the strategy for?

  • The arts, heritage and culture sector and providers
  • The community and voluntary sector and providers
  • Strategic bodies, such as Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Local Authorities and strategic boards
  • For national and local funding bodies seeking to verify or validate local need

What is Culture?

For the purpose of this strategy, this includes:

  • Performing arts including dance, music, comedy and theatre
  • Visual arts, design, craft and makers
  • Digital media and film
  • Museums, collections and archives
  • Libraries, literature, writing and publishing
  • The natural, historic and built environment
  • Cultural tourism, locally produced food and drink, outdoor festivals and attractions
  • Amateur and voluntary run arts for example fetes, carnivals, knitting circles

Culture Statistics

Sources: Arts Council England, Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership.

  • Between 2019 and 2021, nearly 7.5 million of revenue and strategic funding was invested into arts, heritage and cultural organisations by Arts Council South West
  • In the last 5 years, over £87 million worth of capital and revenue funding has been externally invested into Dorset’s arts, heritage and culture sector
  • In 2019, the Dorset LEP valued our creative industries at £425 million
  • Dippy on tour generated an estimated 1.1 million added value into the local economy and increased visitors to the Dorset County Museum by around 20 times
  • 50% of graduates working in the film, visual effects or video game industries in the UK come from Dorset
  • Between 2010-2017, Dorset Creative Industries grew by 29% compared to an 9% growth by any other industry

Cultural Strategy Vision

Arts, heritage and culture is at the heart of Dorset’s Future

There are 4 overarching priorities:

1. COMMUNITY: We want everyone in Dorset’s community to have more opportunities to participate in and benefit from arts, heritage and culture.

2. CULTURAL COUNTY: we will continue to build a strong, sustainable, and diverse cultural infrastructure.

3. ENVIRONMENT: we envisage a green future for our county; using arts, heritage and culture to celebrate the environment and inspire action to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.
4. ECONOMY: we will position arts, heritage and culture as part of Dorset’s sustainable economic growth, ensuring all communities across Dorset benefit.

These are supported by the following 12 outcomes:


  1. Through culture, the health and wellbeing of individuals living within our communities will be improved
  2. Culture will bring more communities together across Dorset; breaking down barriers to enable happy, empowered, and connected communities
  3. More opportunities for young people to create their own culture, explore and unlock their creativity and access pathways to training and employment

Cultural County

  1. Continue to develop a rich cultural offer that can command regional, national, and international recognition. Dorset will be known for our festivals, outstanding museum exhibitions and events, site specific and outdoor arts and our independent creatives and makers
  2. Access, inclusivity, diversity, and equality will be embedded at every level of the cultural sector
  3. Culture sector workers will have the opportunity to thrive in Dorset at all stages of their life and career
  4. More cross sector partnerships established which build increased resilience and diversify funding into the cultural sector


  1. The Dorset cultural sector will reduce its carbon footprint
  2. A change in public behaviour which helps protect and regenerate our environment
  3. Cultural experiences are inspired by our unique environment, creating memorable experiences which help enrich, interpret, and celebrate our coast, towns, and countryside


  1. Dorset positioned as a global cultural destination attracting visitors from around the world
  2. Dorset is an attractive place to establish and grow business, and year-round employment for local people is increased

Who are our target audiences and participants?

  • People aged 65 and over, and those living with dementia
  • Young people aged 25 and under
  • Emerging artists and creatives
  • Artists and creatives with disabilities
  • People of South, East and South East Asian heritage, African or Caribbean heritage and people who experience racism
  • Those living with poor mental health
  • Geographical areas which historically have had less provision and the least amount of communities participating in culture
  • These include North and East Dorset and Purbeck
  • Areas of socio- economic disadvantage- Weymouth and Portland

How will we deliver this and how do we know if we are successful?

We will only successfully deliver on the priorities in the strategy if we work in partnership to enable this to happen. As such the Cultural Strategy is not a standalone document but is designed to complement non-arts agendas and integrate with existing regional and council strategies to achieve our collective ambitions for Dorset.

We will deliver on and monitor the success of the priorities through the following ways:

  • Establish and put into place a framework inspired by the Cultural Compacts model to help deliver, monitor, and jointly resource the priorities and ambitions within the Cultural Strategy
  • Prioritise the collection of bench marking data and improve how we collect, share and translate data so that it tells a compelling story about the work and impact of the sector across Dorset
  • Creative collaborative projects shaped with our communities
  • Cross sector partnerships which brings investment into our sector
  • Improve our practice via professional networks and professional development
  • Continue to develop initiatives around diversifying leadership
  • Employ more young people in the arts and museums sector through the Kickstart scheme
  • We will produce high quality, innovative digital creative content that expands our reach and attracts new audiences
  • Support placemaking through commissioning creatives and artists to improve both physical space, help interpret our landscapes and animate spaces via festivals and site-specific work
  • Physical improvements to and an increase in spaces to both produce and present arts, heritage and cultural experiences in Arts, heritage and cultural organisations signing up to the Culture Declares Emergency movement about creating real change and raising awareness of our Climate and Ecological Emergency