for Arts
& Culture

NPAC Chair Sir Vernon Ellis was the keynote speaker at the recent launch of Surprising Surrey: a new ten-year strategy developed by the county’s cultural sector to champion and strengthen creativity, so that by 2034 Surrey is recognised as one of the country’s most vibrant cultural counties.

Surprising Surrey: Our Cultural Strategy & Vision 2024 – 2034 is the first cultural strategy for the county to be developed by Surrey’s cultural sector. It sets out a framework and action plan with four priorities:

  • Culture for Everyone, to increase access to culture for all, with a specific focus on reaching residents who encounter physical, social and economic barriers
  • Resilient Communities, recognising the role of creative encounters in strengthening communities and in supporting health and wellbeing programmes
  • County-wide Ecology and Infrastructure, encouraging collaborative working and ensuring that creative workspaces are integral to sustainable planning and regeneration schemes
  • Creativity as Enterprise, to nurture the creative economy in Surrey by attracting new business and investment

At a special launch event at The Horton Arts Centre, Epsom, Surrey Cultural Partnership announced a series of initiatives to deliver the strategy, including:

  • The development of a new Culture Fund in partnership with the Community Foundation for Surrey (CFS)Research co-commissioned by Surrey Cultural Partnership and CFS identified that Surrey is significantly underfunded by national grantmakers and, given the financial crises facing a number of the county’s borough and district councils, local authority funding is under threat. The new fund will support improved quality of life and wellbeing for the most disadvantaged communities in Surrey by reducing barriers to transformative creative experiences.
  • The introduction of a Cultural Skills Bank and Volunteer Bank95% of UK arts organisations have less than nine employees. The majority do not have all the required skills ‘in-house’ and they are reliant on time and expertise given by volunteers.   These Banks will facilitate collaboration and will strengthen the sector.
  • A new programme of youth-led activity to give young people a voice and to nurture creative leaders for the future.  Consultation with young people and education providers revealed county-wide dissatisfaction with the lack of information and support available to enter creative careers.  Amongst the initiatives will be encouraging increased youth representation at board level and establishing clear development pathways in the cultural sector.

“This excellent report underlines the importance of investment in the cultural sector.  This will require support from the local community (business, trusts and individuals) as well as from the public purse. Our work at NPAC has shown that there is a real opportunity to raise new philanthropy for the arts on the back of the impact that the arts can make on health, wellbeing, education, and the community. This is best realised by heightening a commitment to place (which this report will do) and providing a framework to attract and funnel financial support (which the new fund will provide).”
Sir Vernon Ellis

Surprising Surrey is about championing what is already happening here, recognising that the county has much to celebrate.  But as we know and despite its reputation for affluence and privilege, Surrey has areas of deprivation and marginalisation that need addressing. This strategy is a response to those needs.  It is a rallying cry to all those who believe in the power and the impact of the arts in changing lives in our county.”
Perdita Hunt & Gavin Stride, Co-Chairs, Surrey Cultural Partnership

“During the extensive consultations over the last year some very clear messages came through – the need for better collaboration, networking and sharing of expertise; the importance of placemaking and the enormous contribution culture can make, the value of cultural activity to health and wellbeing in our communities, and of course the need for better support and funding. I hope all of these messages are reflected in the strategy and clear actions that Surrey Cultural Partnership will encourage.”
Marilyn Scott, author of Surprising Surrey