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Issue 332 – A new arts strategy for Frome

PEOPLE from across the creative spectrum will be invited to work together to create a new arts strategy for Frome, countering funding cuts by working together to boost the town’s unique artistic character.

Over the last few months, arts organisations in the town have been shocked to see their funding decrease or even withdrawn altogether. Somerset County Council and Mendip District Council have both confirmed 100% cuts to their arts budgets, while funding from other sources has become scarce and very competitive.
But creativeFROME, a group dedicated to the arts in the town, says the time for despairing over the decisions is over, and the time for taking a positive step forward has come. A forum is being planned for October, where people will be able to come and help create the new strategy.
Chair Alex Webb explained, “creativeFROME is something that emerged two years ago, and it’s a group of interested people who wanted to come together to lobby on behalf of the arts and the creative enterprises on behalf of the town, which we’ve been doing quietly for some time.
“We’ve now moved into a very different financial climate where Mendip and Somerset have removed their support for the arts. So it struck us that we need to move on from that, and be more overt and collective and more representative. It also coincides with the changes on Frome Town Council.
“We very much felt that this was an opportunity to work with the council and bring together all of the groups, individuals, and organisations, that have anything to do with the arts and creative enterprises, and move towards a comprehensive arts strategy so all areas work together – not identikit, but creating an umbrella under which everyone shelters and the arts and creative enterprises can flourish.
“This [situation created by the funding cuts] is a crisis, but we see it as an opportunity to do something coherent, collaborative, and inclusive on behalf of the whole town.”
Alex added that the importance of a new arts strategy goes beyond the immediate artistic community, as it will benefit Frome as a whole. Alongside artists and arts organisations, businesses and other organisations which can benefit from the arts, will also be encouraged to get involved.
“One of the ways Frome is going to weather the recession is by having a strong arts sector – people say what attracts them to Frome is the arts,” he said. “The purpose of the forum we’re organising in the autumn is for people to set that strategy themselves. We’re talking not just the obvious contacts, but also those in areas like tourism, the museum, businesses that benefit from the arts and creative enterprises. That’s the key to the whole thing. Our strength is in the unity and bringing in views from the whole spectrum of the community. And there are direct knock-on effects, even to those who wouldn’t dream of setting foot in a gallery or concert.
“We’ve moved on from the “moaning stage” and it’s time to be more proactive and use the energies and enthusiasms of the community.”
Details about the arts strategy for Frome, which will take place in the autumn, will be widely advertised.

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