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Arts & Entertainment successful in national portfolio organisation status bid and national funding

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South Somerset District Council’s Arts & Entertainment Service has today secured National Portfolio Organisation status from Arts Council England, bringing national investment of £759,999 to support arts and cultural activities in the area for the next three years.

Becoming a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) brings national funding between 2023 and 2026 and enables the services to provide more opportunities for residents and visitors to South Somerset to watch, take part and engage in arts and cultural activities.

Arts Council England are aware that the public want to be creative, and have the very best art and culture available to them in their neighbourhoods. The latest announcement of funding which includes our application will deliver for them; it is Arts Council's most varied and ambitious portfolio announcement yet.

Adam Burgan, South Somerset District Councils Arts & Entertainment Venues Manager, said: “Becoming an NPO for the Arts Council is a huge milestone in our ambitions to create a flagship cultural offer for Somerset that will stem from the development of The Octagon Theatre. The most exciting part of this development is the opportunities it will create for our residents to benefit from the creative arts. Our plan was particularly focussed on those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those who haven’t enjoyed access to the creative arts and it is fantastic to be attracting more national funding into Somerset.”

With South Somerset District Council set to become part of the new unitary authority for Somerset in April 2023, the new Somerset Council will become the NPO organisation with ambitions to benefit the entire county.

With work already under way to create a Somerset Cultural Strategy, the NPO status for South Somerset’s Arts & Entertainment Services brings another boost to providing an exciting vision for the role of arts and culture within Somerset and the communities across the county.

Councillor Mike Best, portfolio holder for Health and Wellbeing at South Somerset District Council, said: “This is fantastic news and great that South Somerset is setting direction for the new Somerset Council; creating opportunities for residents to participate in arts and culture in the future.

“I would like to thank Arts Council England for granting our Arts & Entertainment Service NPO status. With South Somerset already being a designated Priority Place, meaning greater cultural investment and more opportunities to enjoy high-quality cultural experiences, our relationship with Arts Council England is very strong and also shows how Somerset can become a real area for arts and culture development and opportunities.”

Over the three-year investment period, our ambition is to continue to connect and embed art and cultural practices throughout South Somerset and actively serve our communities to unleash creativity. Regular core funding will enable us to increase the capacity of our Arts Engagement & Outreach delivery and positively impact opportunities for residents and visitors in areas with limited access to the arts.

The NPO investment will support our Arts Engagement & Outreach team to grow, develop and deliver an Arts for Health & Wellbeing, Creative Learning & Participation, Programme Development & Commissioning, and Talent & Workforce Development programme, across South Somerset. Schemes to improve inclusion and remove geographical, social, economic, physical and psychological barriers to access will be at the heart of all our programmes.

Arts Council England Chief Executive, Darren Henley, said: “Together, each of the 990 organisations that have been offered funding today will contribute to a portfolio that is rich, varied and truly national. This is our widest ever spread of investment across the country, ensuring that many more people will have access to a wider choice of exceptional art, culture and creative opportunities on their doorsteps. We are in tough times but we must remember creativity brings with it extraordinary dividends, boosting our country’s economic growth, creating jobs, bringing communities closer together, and making us happier as individuals. Everyone deserves to enjoy the benefits it brings, and with this investment, we believe we’ve taken a decisive step towards making that vision a reality.”

The NPO status also fits in with a significant planned investment to develop The Octagon Theatre to create a flagship centre for the creative arts that will provide amazing opportunities for our residents and bring world class artists to Somerset. The plans see The Octagon Theatre transformed into a centre of excellence that will spark economic regeneration for the area and so many opportunities for residents to improve their well-being.

The development of The Octagon will mean fewer trips out of the county to access brilliant shows, activities and entertainment with superb events right on your doorstep and unleashing creativity across Somerset and beyond.

See more on Arts Council England’s 2023-26 Investment Programme on their website:

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision.

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of the bodies responsible for administering the Government’s unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund, of which we delivered over £1 billion to the sector in grants and loans. Find out more at

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