Scratchworks Theatre Company. Credit Matt Austin

Following an open-call process, Creative Arc announces the first two commissions as part of its 18-month programme of place-shaping cultural activity.

Creative Arc is jointly funded by the University of Exeter and through a percentage of Exeter City Council’s allocation of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, a central strand of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda.

This funding is focussed on the role of culture and creativity in developing and shaping place, with the aim of ‘building pride of place and increasing life chances’ across the city – by supporting projects that deliver tangible outcomes for community and place; support local business; and offer opportunities for engagement and skills development.

The commission brief asked for proposals from creative practitioners/organisations already working with communities across the city. While there was no specific output or artform imposed by the brief, there was a requirement that proposed projects must be focused on meaningful community participation, and be relevant to the themes of Health & Wellbeing, Environment or People & Place-shaping.

After a rigorous selection and interview process, the two commissioned organisations – both Exeter based – are Scratchworks Theatre Company, a female-led theatre company who specialise in telling women’s stories; and Lightbear Lane, a non-profit focusing on delivering cultural activity in nature, community and heritage spaces.

Scratchworks Theatre Company’s collaborative theatre project, ‘Women of Wonder: Greek Myths & Monsters’, will see them continue working with an Exeter-based community of women, originally supported and cultivated by CoLab Exeter. The programme of activity will include workshops, the development of new skills, and the provision of a creative, safe space to co-design ideas that will contribute to a public sharing event in March.

Lightbear Lane’s ‘Proud to Be’ project will work with residents in the Exeter ward of Mincinglake and Whipton to create a community map, film and exhibition that celebrates the area and the people who call it home. The project will also provide creative skills, including music-making and production techniques, and filmmaking.

Dom Jinks, Creative Places Lead at the University of Exeter, says: “The Creative Arc Programme aims to support exciting projects working with new and underrepresented communities and parts of the city that might not always receive investment for culture. These two projects absolutely fulfil this ambition, and we look forward to seeing them up and running.”

Cllr Laura Wright, Deputy Leader of ECC and Portfolio Holder for Culture and Communities, says: “It’s been inspiring to see so many creative people come forward with ideas for imaginative projects that will reach out and into Exeter communities. I’m delighted with the two projects that we have awarded the grant funding to and can’t wait to experience some of the results of this work.”