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Arts Council England has today (Thursday 16th September 2021) announced that North Devon is one of just 54 Priority Places in England where they will focus their development time over the next three years. North Devon Council will work closely with the Arts Council and other stakeholders in North Devon to develop new opportunities for investment in culture, both from the Arts Council and other partners.

In their ambitious 10-year strategy, 'Let's Create', the Arts Council pledged its commitment to giving people the chance to experience amazing culture in more places. They have done this by determining 'Priority Places' through an independent assessment process in which they considered previous investment levels, engagement with culture and an understanding of local ambition and capacity in order to help more places achieve their cultural and creative potential. 

Arts Council England believes that creativity and culture can, and should, play a part in helping level up the country. As the nation recovers from the pandemic, the Arts Council says it will be supporting communities to make sure that the creative talent of every person in every village, town and city can flourish, because "talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not". 

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says: " There are only 11 places in the whole of the South West that have been selected as 'Priority Places' by the Arts Council and I am delighted that North Devon has been selected as one of them. We have an abundance of creativity here, but often lack the opportunity to showcase it to the rest of the country due to our rural location. My hope is that creativity and culture will bring people together, support the local economy and makes lives better."

Museum Curator, Alison Mills, says: "North Devon is a beautiful area with a rich cultural history, but suffers from rural isolation and pockets of deprivation. We welcome the Arts Council’s enthusiasm to prioritise investment in our theatres, museums and other venues and support for our growing community of artists and creative practitioners, which will make North Devon an even better place to live, work and visit."

Phil Gibby, Area Director of Arts Council England, South West, says: “Arts Council England is pleased to share our approach to place-based working, and as part of this, we are delighted to confirm the 11 South West places that we will prioritise from 2021 to 2024. 

“In deciding on these Priority Places, we considered both the needs of local audiences, and the strength of our partnerships with Local Authorities, Local Cultural Education Partnerships, and Higher Education Institutes. We look forward to collaborating closely with our partners in the Priority Places over the next three years, beginning with a series of meetings this autumn, in which we will come together to agree on a set of jointly held cultural ambitions.

“By joining forces in this way, we hope to ensure that more people in our region have the opportunity to take part in creativity in the places where they live and work, and to experience for themselves the power of culture to bring people together, support local economies, and make lives better.”

Arts Council England’s commitment to excellence underpins all aspects and ambitions of the projects, organisations, and individuals that they support and fund. The four Investment Principles outlined in Let’s Create will be the guiding ones to help those individuals and organisations the Arts Council invests in to continually improve and show their commitment to the variety of ways in which excellence can manifest itself in the creative and cultural sector.