Shaping Southampton’s Cultural Strategy

Southampton is one of the most culturally diverse cities on the south coast where people are our greatest strength and inspiration. Open to the rest of the world, Southampton is borne of our geography and natural environment. With its two rivers and double high tide, people have chosen to make Southampton their home for over 2000 years.

This means Southampton has a dynamic cultural legacy which draws on the tangible and intangible heritage of the place and is embodied in an energetic Southampton spirit centred on new beginnings, re-imaginings, resilience, innovation, entrepreneurship and generous collaborations.

Southampton is shaping its Cultural Strategy by building on our track record of Culture-led regeneration and place animation partnerships. With decades of strong and sustained cross-party political support for Culture, the commitment across the city has broadened and deepened further during the global pandemic and is a vital factor in our UK City of Culture 2025 ambitions.

Against this COVID-19 backdrop, there has been an astonishing series of city-wide conversations about the importance and value of Culture and what winning UK City of Culture could mean for Southampton. Equally, the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated some of the deep social and economic inequalities and challenges facing our communities across the generations. The pandemic has also had a profound impact on formal and informal cultural activity and the way in which we share, experience and generate cultural value, as well as how we can consume, participate in, express and create Culture in our communities, public spaces and venues.

Yet the evidence indicates that Culture can provide the social glue that brings individuals and communities together and how vital it is to Southampton’s wider economic recovery and place-shaping agendas. Culture is emphasised in the Economic and Green Growth Strategy 2020-2030, Destination Management Plan 2021-2031, Solent Local Enterprise Partnership 2050 vision and further work is being developed around the city’s adults and children’s strategies including health and wellbeing, heritage assets and monuments, events and festivals and creative industries.

We are working towards a convergence of trends and emergent themes that build upon the regenerative role that Culture can play in supporting the city to address its economic, social and environmental challenges and reach its collective potential and aspirations for a thriving and sustainable city for current and future generations.

The roadmap for developing and sharing this emerging Cultural Strategy is:

  • August - September 21: Reviewing our Cultural Strategy with stakeholders
  • September - October 2021: Consulting on the draft Cultural Strategy
  • December 2021 - January 2022: Publishing the Cultural Strategy