Towards the end of last year we reported Arts, Culture and Heritage were missing from Dorset Council’s new plan. Thanks to your support, lobbying and survey responses Dorset Council have confirmed Culture will be included in the new plan and we can expect to see more recognition of the sector’s importance. 

We now ask you to join forces again to secure the future of funding for culture in Dorset.

What’s Happening

Dorset Council are proposing significant changes to how funding is awarded to organisations in the culture, community and voluntary sectors in our county.

The Council are considering 10% cuts to funding and shorter term funding. We are concerned these changes may not provide the stability and security organisations need to thrive, or even continue. Organisations need stability to ensure they can deliver quality experiences, projects, events and venues.

On 15th January, Dorset Council launched a public consultation into the future of funding for the culture, community and voluntary sectors. The council have created a public survey and they will use the results to decide the future of culture funding in Dorset.

How Culture is Currently Funded by Dorset Council

  • Four-year funding for culture and voluntary organisations. This is currently not open to all organisations.
  • Some organisations receive a different type of funding because they provide services and look after buildings that previously belonged to the Council.
  • A pot of money for short-term, one-year projects
  • Before Dorset Council was formed, each district Council was responsible for giving the money to organisations and monitoring them. This means each district council did things a little differently; they gave varying amounts of money to organisations for various reasons, and monitored their effectiveness in different ways.

How Dorset Council May Fund Culture in the Future

Dorset Council want to unify their approach to funding culture so it’s the same across Dorset. They have proposed the following changes:

  • One to Three-year funding that all eligible culture and voluntary organisations in Dorset can apply for.
  • Those organisations that provide services and look after buildings previously belonging to the Council may continue to receive their funding.
  • New criteria Dorset Council may use to decide who gets funding.
  • 10% cuts to funding.

How These Changes Will Impact Culture in Dorset

The Bad News

  • Funding cuts mean organisations will also need to make cuts somewhere. This could mean people loose their jobs, less events, workshops and programmes, and even some organisations may not survive. The big effect may be that if the Council cut their funding other funders may do the same. This has happened in other counties and has resulted in closures of some organisations.
  • Shorter-term funding means less stability for organisations, that could also lead to cuts.

The Good News

  • Other eligible culture and voluntary organisations can apply for one to three-year funding. This will hopefully mean more organisations can develop in Dorset.
  • One set of funding criteria will hopefully mean an equality of culture across Dorset.

What You Can Do

1. Complete the survey by 11th March. Please note you’re unable to save your progress and return to the survey later, but you are able to preview all questions before answering them. We estimate the survey takes between 20 and 30 minutes. Click here for the survey.

Some of the questions are a little complicated and so we’ve created a guide to help you. Please click here to view

To help you fill in the comments sections we’ve put together some data and quotes about the value and impact of Culture in Dorset from organisations who currently get Dorset Council funding.

  • Culture increases tourism, which drives economic growth. In 2018, Dorset was the first location in the UK to host ‘Dippy the Dinosaur’. Over 150,000 people flocked to Dorset County Museum in Dorchester and contributed to a visitor spend of over £2.2 million – read the full report here.
  • Culture boosts our economy. At the last count in 2016, Arts and Culture contributed £10.8 billion to the U.K economy and has overtaken agriculture. From Arts Council England’s report ‘Contribution of the arts and culture industry to the UK economy’. In 2019 the value of the creative industries in Dorset was £425 million. From State of Dorset 2019 report.
  • Culture improves wellbeing. Creative activities can reduce loneliness and isolation across the county, including in our most rural areas. Artsreach presents a programme of professional theatre, arts and culture events in the heart of Dorset’s rural communities. They currently partner with over 56 communities and have over 3000 volunteers who worked over 3400 hours in 2018/19. Volunteering reduces isolation, builds communities and gives volunteers a sense of belonging. “It takes the loneliness away…you get a sense of belonging and comradeship” – Cedric, ArtsReach Volunteer
  • Culture helps people lead active, healthy and independent lives. According to State of Dorset 2019 report, we expect to see more than 10,000 people aged 65+ living with dementia by 2025. Stepping into Nature, supported by their delivery partner the Arts Development Company, connects older adults, including those with dementia and their care partners, with nature for health and wellbeing benefits. To date, 414 activities have been delivered to 1313 participants, of which 44% have a long-term disability or illness. 90% felt the activities were a good chance to socialise and 72% intend to spend more time outdoors.


2. Join our online campaign #CaseForCultureDorsetWe continue to advocate for Culture on our social media channels, particularly Twitter where we can reach key decision makers. Follow @artsdevco and share our content, or you can copy and paste the tweets below:

Help secure the future of @DorsetCouncilUK funding for culture in Dorset. Find out more and fill in the survey by 11 March: #CaseForCultureDorset #Culturematters

@DorsetCouncilUK are asking for your views on the future of funding for culture in Dorset. Find out more and fill in the survey by 11 March: #CaseForCultureDorset #Culturematters

Downloadable Resources