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Why We're Here

How we work

The Southampton Cultural Development Trust looks to use arts and culture as key drivers for a cultural shift in Southampton. We work to develop the city’s potential as a cultural hub for both economic and social benefits. We use arts and cultural as one of the tools to engage socially excluded communities; to raise aspirations both for the city and individuals within it; and to draw people to the city as visitors, students, investors, employees and residents.

The Trust adds value to the city integrating the various strategies and work programmes for culture, heritage, tourism and place-making; finding ways to maximise existing, and leverage additional, capacity; and creating and exploiting Milestone events.

Some of our work to date:

  • In 2016, the Trust supported artists working in the city through the BAS8 Southampton Fringe, working alongside the higher education and art partners to develop and deliver a fringe festival alongside Hayward Gallery’s British Art Show. The 2017 publication Reveal chronicled the fringe.
  • We have worked with artist Dan Thompson on the report "Pop Up Culture In Southampton" to build evidence for meanwhile and temporary use of city space; we also successfully supported Caravan Gallery, an artist-led mobile exhibition space engaging local communities, and Tiger Yard, a city-based pop-up initiative supporting local artists, to access empty properties as temporary gallery spaces; as well as providing training, conference and workshop opportunities.
  • We are integrating the various strategies and programmes for culture, heritage, tourism and place-making across the city. We lead a collaborative consortium with the City Council, the universities and commercial partners working on the development of a Southampton Place and Destination Management strategy that will position arts and heritage at the centre of defining Place.
  • Mayflower 400, Southampton 800 and a potential city of culture bid act as horizon events galvanising key stakeholders and offering dynamic and highly visible opportunities to engage national and local artists alongside communities and community organisations.
  • The Trust lead an emerging partnership with the heritage sector, SCC and Historic England, as well as being a R&D partner on a AHRC Creative Cluster bid with heritage at its heart.
  • Working in partnership the Trust has produced the Cultural Manifesto to stimulate conversations around defining cultural engagement, the current barriers to engagement and possible solutions to increasing public engagement in culture.