Wokingham’s vision to become a dynamic cultural hub by 2030 took a step closer last Wednesday (April 22) when the draft Arts and Culture Strategy was approved for wider consultation by the council’s executive committee.
The new strategy, which aims to make sure all residents have access to high quality cultural experiences across the borough, was developed after discussion and consultation with local cultural groups and bodies.
Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure, said: “I’m incredibly pleased to see the draft arts and cultural strategy come forward as it’s a really important part of making the borough one of the best places to live and do business in the country.
“Access to arts and culture is shown to have a range of benefits including improving our resident’s health and wellbeing, strengthening our local communities and attracting talented employees to work our wonderful and beautiful borough. It’s also important in helping create opportunities for children and young people and supporting the vulnerable members of our community.”
The draft strategy identifies six key cultural ambitions which recognise the intrinsic value of arts and culture in enriching lives, the social value it has in supporting the community and individuals, and the economic value it brings with local growth and job creation.
The strategy also focuses on how these ambitions can be achieved by working in partnership with national and local partners as well as business and the local community.
Cllr Batth continued: “We know from our work in preparing the strategy that there is already a huge amount going on across the borough and our aim is to support this, raise awareness of what’s available and help encourage even more to take place throughout the year. The strategy also focusses on making sure all our residents, especially more vulnerable or isolated groups, can access these opportunities and don’t miss out.
“We’d originally planned to consult on the strategy this summer but, due to the current restrictions, we’re reviewing the timing of this to make sure local residents, cultural groups and businesses have opportunities to get involved in shaping this ambitious vision.
“However, it doesn’t stop there as work to deliver our arts and culture vision for the borough continues despite the lock down. The new cultural development officer is now in place and we will be continuing to work with a range of arts and cultural organisations to build partnerships and support ideas for collaboration in the coming months.”