Dorset libraries have been awarded £70,000 from Arts Council England and The National Lottery as part of the Dorset market and coastal towns’ cultural development.

Hannah Baker (pictured), Project Manager at The Arts Development Company, said:

‘We’re delighted to be a partner for this exciting phase of work with Dorset libraries. This work is directly informed by the communities who engage with the libraries and will extend and enrich further, using the arts to reach into wider communities. The programme is innovative and aims to build a whole range of new connections within communities that will have a lasting impact.’

Gillingham and Weymouth

The total project funding is £141,230, with the remainder being made up from partnership match-funding and support in kind. The funding will support a two-year project introducing a wide range of new arts activities in Gillingham and Weymouth, to benefit the local communities.

Working with The Arts Development Company, libraries in the two towns will be established as artistic and cultural hubs, offering increased community access to arts and culture.

The project will include developing a partnership arts programme with artist-led activities to bring residents and communities together. There will be eight paid artist residencies programmes, delivering events for all age groups. There will also be 16 artist events showcasing programmes for specific community groups and the opportunity for arts promoters to stage shows and exhibitions at the libraries. This cultural offer will be inclusive and community-driven to reflect diversity in the wider communities and span age and gender profiles, including a range of identified priority groups such as adults with dementia.

Exciting opportunity

Cllr Deborah Croney, Dorset County Council’s cabinet member for skills and learning, said:

‘This is such an exciting opportunity and I am really pleased that Arts Council England has awarded this grant for the Dorset market and coastal towns’ innovative project. The libraries will work together with local people and with The Arts Development Company to develop exciting arts and cultural activities which will encourage local people to visit their library. Most importantly, local people will be involved in artist residencies, creating artistic content, and taking part in creative events throughout the two years.’

Arts Council England

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, added:

‘At the Arts Council we believe that culture can transform lives and so we’re pleased to support this innovative and collaborative project that puts creativity at the heart of communities. This National Lottery-funded investment will enable more people to experience art and culture while also addressing disadvantage in literacy, digital skills, mental health and wellbeing, and social isolation.’

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