Council awarded £50k to put towards developing Weston-super-Mare's arts and culture scene

PUBLISHED: 08:00 26 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:07 26 May 2018

Cllr Elfan Ap Rees with Arts Council chief executive Darren Harley. Picture: Eleanor Young

Cllr Elfan Ap Rees with Arts Council chief executive Darren Harley. Picture: Eleanor Young

Eleanor Young

Tens of thousands of pounds have been handed to North Somerset Council to give Weston-super-Mare's art and culture scene a 'bright and exciting future'.

The chief executive of Arts Council England described the seaside tourist town as a ‘cultural gem’ which will be a ‘real beacon’ for other places to learn from.

Darren Henley visited the town on Friday to see for himself the level of cultural activity on offer to residents and tourists and to discuss the local authority’s hopes for further development.

North Somerset has been working with Arts Council England South West (ACE SW) for the past two years to explore opportunities for projects and funding for art initiatives.

ACE SW has allocated £50,000 towards establishing a cultural development company for Weston and hopes to develop the town’s cultural image by 2020.

Mr Henley said: “We are really passionate about taking great art and culture to as many people as possible. I have travelled around the country and I always think ‘what is this place going to be famous for?’.

“What you have here is a real sense of opportunity, a sense of playfulness and all the integrity of a lovely historic seaside town.

“I see a very bright and exciting future for Weston built around arts and culture.”

Mr Henley described Weston as an ‘artistic and cultural dream’ and said the arrival of Banksy’s Dismaland in 2015 helped.

MORE: Forgotten Dismaland? Here are all the pictures from Banksy’s exhibition in Weston.

Since the exhibition at the Tropicana, the council says the town has developed its role as a significant arts and culture destination – which has become a key element of North Somerset’s regeneration and growth plans for the town.

He added: “Dismaland was such a fantastic thing for this town – I think everyone heard about it –but now it is about building on that story and that narrative.”

Cllr Nigel Ashton said: “Our vision for Weston is a town which provides the best combination of living, learning and lifestyle. We are making strong progress on all counts with significant investment from both the public and private sector.

“Dismaland showed the world what we are capable of and provided us with a strong legacy for our growing importance in the region’s arts and cultural offer.”

Cllr Elfan Ap Rees said he had seen a lot of progression in the town and the arts and culture scene has helped influence this.

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