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New agreement will champion culture and creativity for all in Southampton

Published: 9 November 2018
Vice Chancellor and Darren Henley
Sir Christopher Snowden and Darren Henley sign new agreement to champion creativity in Southampton.

Southampton’s growing reputation as a city of culture and creativity has received a major boost with the signing of a new agreement between the University of Southampton and Arts Council England (ACE).

Thanks to a new Memorandum of Understanding, the two long-standing partners will embark on a new phase in their relationship with a strategy to further champion the provision of arts and other creativity-focused activities throughout the City of Southampton and the wider region.

Through its own arts and culture strategy, the University has already committed to animate the City’s inspiring arts and culture offering, increasing access and engagement by placing students, staff and diverse communities at the centre of its plans. This new shared commitment will see the University and ACE working directly to embed creativity as an essential part of everyday life for everyone in Southampton and the surrounding area, particularly children and young people.

The agreement also pledges a shared commitment from the University and ACE to:

  • support the development and democratisation of the city’s cultural and creative ecology, creating opportunities for talent development, enhancing skills and employability and growing the city’s international reputation;
  • increase public understanding and promote the positive impact and benefits of arts and culture in reflecting a diverse contemporary culture and promote equality in Southampton;
  • support new opportunities for talent development, increase skills and employability in relation to current and future needs of cultural and creative sectors;
  • develop opportunities for creative research, development and innovation that supports artists, arts professionals, increasing interdisciplinary research, access to facilities and collaboration across the digital and creative industries;
  • develop and deliver a strategic cultural agenda with the higher education sector across the region, increasing graduate retention, contributing to the city and region’s growing dynamic creative ecology and reputation internationally;
  • establish an evidence base to capture the impact of how the Southampton’s Cultural Quarter as a future creative arts hub can enrich the lives of children and young people, acknowledge and develop best practice, addresses inequalities, remove barriers and seek to contribute towards national policy. 

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said: “This city is a hotbed of creativity and innovation thanks to the long term support of the University of Southampton. It’s exciting to mark the next stage of our partnership. I’m certain the arts will continue to grow in importance here, as Southampton develops even further as a great place to live, work and study.”

University of Southampton President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, said: “We are very pleased to enter into this new phase of our relationship with Arts Council England. This agreement recognises the importance and value of creativity as an essential part of everyone’s lives and will help facilitate using the arts as a way of increasing connectivity throughout our community and region whilst improving the health, well-being and improving life chances for the young people of Southampton.”

Louise Coysh, Associate Director, Arts and Culture at the University of Southampton, said: “At the heart of this Memorandum of Understanding lies the University’s pledge, working together with Arts Council England, to actively contribute to Southampton’s growing cultural reputation and to increase opportunities for young people and communities to engage with the arts and contribute to shaping the city’s future.”

Over many decades, the University of Southampton has developed and nurtured a pioneering history of cultural patronage through the arts, theatre and music, playing host to some of the city’s most respected and renowned venues including the John Hansard Gallery and Turner Sims Concert Hall. The institution is also home to a research-active Arts and Humanities Faculty encompassing the Winchester School of Art, as well as a successful and well-connected multidisciplinary Public Engagement with Research Unit, and over 40 performing arts student societies.

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