On Wednesday 14th November, we welcomed over 40 organisations from across Dorset to discuss the challenges facing arts and culture today. 70 cultural professionals from the Dorset Arts Together (DAT) network were welcomed to the Exchange in Sturminster Newton.

This meeting focused on the future. With uncertainty looming and the value of arts and culture under scrutiny, attendees were keen to discuss how Dorset can navigate the choppy waters ahead. Key speakers from Arts Council England and successful U.K arts organisations generously shared their advice, insider knowledge, and most importantly their enthusiasm and drive.

The Speakers

Jamie Beddard, Co-Director of Diverse City opened the day with a very motivational talk and his points became the cornerstones of the day’s discussions:

  • New stories, perspectives and imagining should be the lifeblood of the Arts. Therefore, those previously marginalised or unheard are in the box seats to deliver.
  • The need to connect, support, advocate and mobilise has never been greater in the Arts.
  • We all need to tell stories together.

Next, Sarah Crown, Director of Literacy for Arts Council England outlined their 10-year strategy and emphasised the importance of data and storytelling when building evidence of your organisation’s impact. She also encouraged everyone to build strong relationships with Arts Council England.

This was followed by a presentation by our Culture+ Programme Manager Jane Showell; did you know Culture+ have helped over 350 Dorset artists so far? Their free online resources, courses and mentoring can be found here.

Chief Executive of Live Theatre Newcastle, Jim Beirne then finished the day with his extraordinary story:

“When Live Theatre started on the path of building its long-term sustainability we decided to become developers ourselves. Live Theatre’s current development, Live Works, is an £10m mixed use scheme. It includes commercial offices, new 14,500 sq.ft. offices, a quayside park, an outdoor stage, and a creative writing and literacy project that will reach thousands of children.” – Excerpt from Live Theatre’s blog post

Jim demonstrated how social enterprise and a willingness to fail and battle through uncertainty is the key to success.

We also presented an interview with the Chief Executive of the new Dorset Council, Matt Prosser. Mr. Prosser kindly invited us to interview him and he provided a great insight into the new council and his views on arts and culture. Watch the interview here.

Help Shape Dorset’s Future

As we wrapped up for the day, there was a sense of excitement and anticipation for the year ahead. The meeting sparked ideas for change, collaboration and growth. If you’d like to be part of this and help shape Dorset’s future become a DAT member today.

Local Creative Producer Molly Scarborough has also created a fantastic write-up of the day here: https://www.mollyscarborough.com/single-post/2018/11/16/Whats-Next-in-Dorset