The vision for the borough to become a dynamic cultural hub reached another milestone this week as Wokingham Borough Council rolls out the draft arts and culture strategy for public consultation.
The 10 year strategy aims to promote the profile of arts and culture throughout the borough, making it a place that is recognised for its cultural activities and arts offer, which is both inclusive and accessible to all.
The strategy identifies six key priorities across the borough with the purpose of driving this ambition forward. These priorities include enhancing Wokingham’s cultural identity and sense of place; fostering social interaction and community cohesion; improving health and wellbeing; developing opportunities for children and young people; supporting economic growth; and maximising partnerships and collaboration.
The draft arts and culture strategy and questionnaire can be found by searching on the council website for Current Consultations. www.wokingham.gov.uk.
Public consultation on the draft strategy remains open until Friday November 20.
“As an artist myself, I recognise just how much arts and culture can contribute towards making Wokingham Borough a fantastic place to live and work for all our residents” said Cllr Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for regeneration. “It’s not just the intrinsic value of how it enriches people’s lives, but the wider social value it has in bringing families and communities closer together, helping improve educational attainment and supporting peoples wellbeing, which is so vitally important at the current time.
“Arts and culture also helps with local economic growth and job creation. With a large number of local people already employed in the creative sector and the opportunity to bring more creative companies to the area in the coming years, it is important that we look for further ways in which we can nurture growth in this area.”
The need for a strategy was identified following conversations with local arts and culture organisations and also with local businesses, who were struggling to recruit and retain young graduates to the area when compared to other regions with more prominent cultural identities.
Feedback from a follow on arts and culture survey was used to help shape the draft strategy, which has been out for discussion with town and parish councils, and local arts and cultural organisations since earlier this spring.
“Alongside the strategy we are also continuing to work with local partners on a more detailed action plan to help deliver the key priorities, as well as on other initiatives such as the new Wocca arts and culture phone app, which we launched over the summer.”
“Wocca Explorer is a fantastic opportunity for families to get safely out and about in the local area at half term, discovering virtual markers across the borough and finding out more about history and fun facts Explorers can also use the augmented reality function of their phone to try fun activities like drawing pictures, growing poppies or dressing up in virtual costumes to reflect the marker they have found.
“We will also be working hard over the next few months to start populating the things to do section of the app, with an emphasis on making sure people can stay up-to-date with all the exciting things that will be happening, on-line and live, during the Christmas period. We will be announcing how to do this shortly so, if you’re an organisation keen to promote an event, keep an eye out for more information soon.”
The Wocca phone app has been developed by the council and local company Volume as part of the Thames Valley Local Enterprises Smart Cities project to encourage local residents to engage more with arts and culture across the borough.
Users of the Wocca Explorer game should make sure to follow the latest government guidance on staying covid secure, including maintaining social distances, wearing masks where appropriate and observing any rules around household mixing or group size.
The App can be downloaded on compatible smart phones from their relevant store.