10-year cultural strategy to boost Surrey as a county

The county of Surrey can be one of the UK’s cultural powerhouses within the next 10 years, say researchers from the University of Surrey.

Their comments follow the publication of the Surrey Cultural Partnership’s Surprising Surrey: Our Cultural Strategy & Vision 2024-34 – a decade-long strategy that aims for Surrey to be recognised as one of the country’s most vibrant cultural regions.

Surprising Surrey is the first cultural strategy for the county to be developed by its cultural sector. It sets out a framework and action plan with four priorities: 

  • Culture for Everyone: to increase access to culture for all, with a specific focus on reaching residents who encounter physical, social and economic barriers 
  • Resilient Communities: recognising the role of creative encounters in strengthening communities and in supporting health and wellbeing programmes 
  • County-wide Ecology and Infrastructure: encouraging collaborative working and ensuring that creative workspaces are integral to sustainable planning and regeneration schemes 
  • Creativity as Enterprise: to nurture the creative economy in Surrey by attracting new business and investment

Professor Caroline Scarles, professor of Technology and Society, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and director of Visit Surrey, said: “It has been a privilege to work with the Surrey Cultural Partnership to develop this strategy that brings together the wide range of vibrant and inspiring cultural leaders, organisations and communities across the county. 

“It is a strategy that has the collaborative voices of the cultural sector as its very foundation. It provides the collective voice and vision for capturing the diversity, drive and ambition of the county and recognises the central role that culture plays not only for the economy but also for inclusion, diversity, health and wellbeing.”

Surrey Cultural Partnership is a collective of people working in culture and heritage in Surrey, along with representatives from business, education, health, criminal justice and local government, who share an ambition to champion Surrey as a leading cultural county.  

Surprising Surrey is the result of research and extensive consultation with the county’s cultural organisations, practitioners and stakeholders over the last two years. This identified an urgent need to promote and expand culture in Surrey, reducing barriers and increasing investment so that many more residents and visitors are able to benefit. 

Professor Catherine McNamara, head of school at the Guildford School of Acting (GSA) at the University of Surrey, said: “I am proud that GSA has played a role in shaping this much-needed strategy for our county. 

“This is not only about stimulating economic and cultural prosperity for our region, but it is very much about investing in the health and wellbeing of our communities. 

“With this new strategy, I am confident we can all ensure people from all backgrounds from within Surrey and beyond can enjoy the myriad of cultural experiences that it has to offer.”  

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