Doing great things in a Great Place

Youngsters and a grassman sculpture

Two young participants enjoying Ashley Peevor’s Grassman, commissioned by Torbay Culture as part of the scheme - Credit: Steve Haywood

Torbay is a great place to live, work and visit so what better project to capitalise on that than a Great Place scheme.

Between 2017 and last year Torbay was one of 16 areas that participated in the Great Place Scheme in England.

The project, initiated by the government in its Culture White Paper in 2016, was co-sponsored by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England, and supported by Historic England.

Torbay Culture at TDA managed the scheme and worked with partners from across the Bay to deliver projects, including Torbay Community Development Trust, the NHS, Public Health Torbay, Torbay Council, numerous individuals and organisations.

The subsequent wellbeing programmes have resulted in detailed analysis which will help partners in the council, NHS and public health think of alternative ways of improving independent living and better health.

The project provided a chance to support areas of work that mean so much to people in the English Riviera:

* Testing ideas to improve wellbeing and health through cultural participation in partnership with NHS, Public Health and others

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* Enabling residents to shape the places in which they live, informing town improvements which will now be part of the Future High Street Fund (Paignton), Town Fund (Torquay), and shape a bid to support Brixham.

* Celebrating the fascinating cultural heritage of Brixham, Paignton and Torquay through innovative creative programming like the incredible Wavelength light and sound celebrations at Torre Abbey in 2019

* Supporting greater resilience in creative and heritage organisations and people with training, support and help to establish new business models.

Four areas - Changing Lives, Shaping Place, Engaging Audiences, and Building Resilience - were the pillars of Torbay’s scheme.

The Torbay Scheme reached almost 58,000 people in Brixham, Paignton and Torquay, including over 53,000 attending events and activities.

It invested in creative talent - 153 artists were employed to work on projects, 89 of these were from Brixham, Paignton and Torquay. Where people from outside the area were involved they created projects with local communities and residents.

Main facepaint as part of culture project

Martin Thomas, participating in the Offering events as part of Eyeview in the scheme. - Credit: Submitted

167 local people had improved health as a result of longer term culture and wellbeing projects

180 residents, family members, and carers were involved in developing the innovative Torbay Care Charter commissioned jointly by Torbay Culture and Torbay Council

194 local people took part in engagement events as part of the Great Place Scheme’s town centre regeneration work

Seven Torbay organisations explored and /or adopted new governance models

A Torbay Culture spokesman said: "It is on this body of work that we can continue to build. The aim of the scheme was to pilot new approaches to local investment in heritage and culture. As well as supporting increased public engagement, it aimed to nurture long-term impact in places, encouraging cross sector partnerships, ensuring culture and heritage were made more visible to policy-makers and local citizens alike.

"The scheme has since been extended across the devolved nations of the United Kingdom.

In addition to national evidence and data gathering which has been taking place on behalf of the Arts Council and Heritage Fund, Torbay commissioned independent evaluation of the project so lessons can be learned from the experience.

Claire Gulliver, an experienced project manager and programme evaluator, spent almost six months reviewing the material, talking with partners, and analysing the scheme’s impact.

Films were also created, including This Place Is Changing. That can be seen on YouTube and the website. Link here: https://www.torbayculture.org/news/2021/4/2/this-place-is-changing-torbays-great-place-scheme