Strength in numbers

New models for sustainable delivery
Janet Owen
In these times of financial constraint, all of us across the cultural sector are seeking and finding new models for sustainable delivery, many of which involve greater commitment to long-term collaboration.

Hampshire Cultural Trust was established in 2014 to operate arts and museums facilities previously operated by Hampshire County Council and Winchester City Council.

We now manage and support 26 arts and museums attractions across the county (23 directly and three in partnership), and deliver county-wide outreach programmes that bring great culture to local communities.

I am working with colleagues across the county on an ambitious initiative that brings together four local authorities and three charitable trusts to achieve a step-change in the cultural life of the region, and secure an exciting future for one of the nation’s most important art collections in Southampton.
As the Hampshire Flagship Galleries Network partnership, we are working together to drive up audience engagement, improve our exhibition spaces, grow tourism, attract inward investment and, through this, achieve greater visibility and national recognition of our region as a dynamic cultural hub with visual arts at its heart.
One of our key aims as a partnership is to increase engagement in culture, particularly visual arts, for all. In all of our working together, we are seeking to ensure that everyone has the chance to get involved with culture, to contribute and feel a sense of belonging.

I know from our work at the trust that culture can change lives and, as a partnership, we are committed to building on this to achieve better quality of life and wellbeing outcomes for local people and communities.

With the support of Arts Council England’s Museum Resilience Funding, we are testing our approach through audience research, pilot projects, sharing capacities and developing touring exhibitions from the Southampton collection.

We are also combining capital resources to support the business-critical upgrading of some of our community galleries, with the aim of levering in a greater return on investment from external funding sources, including the lottery and philanthropy.

Ultimately, our vision for this experimental partnership is to create a long-term venture that works with imagination and creativity to drive up the visual arts offer and increase engagement, and in doing so creates a nationally acclaimed cultural hub that contributes to the social and economic success of the region.

A strong influence for me in this project is the philanthropic spirit of Robert Chipperfield, who founded the Southampton collection and the City Art Gallery in his bequest of 100 years ago. By uniting forces, we can carry his good work forward well into the 21st century.

I am interested in finding out about similar partnerships nationally, and would welcome hearing from anyone with examples to share.

The Hampshire Flagship Galleries Network partners are Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Chipperfield Trust Advisory Committee, Gosport Borough Council, Hampshire County Council, Southampton City Council, Lymington Museum Trust and Hampshire Cultural Trust

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