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How the arts could make Torbay a Great Place

3rd May 2017

Categories: Latest News

A £1.2million project to put Torbay's culture and creativity centre stage for locals and visitors has been launched.

The Torbay Great Place Scheme, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, could include events, trails and artwork to celebrate the Bay's role in the life of Dame Agatha Christie or as a internationally recognised Unesco Geopark, a Festival of Light, and new digital guides to all that's on among other projects.

Paul Woolnough, chairman of Torbay Culture Board said at the launch at Paignton Picture House that Torbay was only one of 16 places in the country to get funding from the national Great Place Scheme, and one of only two seaside locations. “Everyone involved in culture in Torbay should be really proud," he said.

Kate Farmery, executive director of the board said: “This award recognises the fact that Torbay faces serious social and economic challenges, and we recognise that traditional, siloed attempts to address them are not working. We are beginning to come together to make our place great – and our residents feel great – once more.

“All partners in our Great Place Scheme programme are hungry for change and convinced of the potential for arts, heritage and culture to make more of a difference."

The aim of the three year project is to help connect Bay residents with their 22 miles of coastline,  re-focussing the town centres on the sea, and drive new tourists to South Devon's Beautiful Bay through culture.

The Bay-wide year-round cultural programme can be expanded with support from a new creative director, to be appointed. This can build on the resort's connections with Agatha Christie for example, but also its status as a centre for light-based technology and South Devon College's digital mapping technology could be used to project Torbay-inspired digital artworks on to unusual places and spaces.

The project will support and develop heritage venues, such as Paignton Picture House, and look at ways to make them more financially sustainable.

A destination co-ordinator will be appointed through the projects to oversee delivery of the new destination management plan, to help put Torbay on the map as a cultural tourism destination.

There is funding for cultural tourism development to drive the creation of new bookable cultural itineraries, the development of editorial guides and digital content.

Kate said: “For residents the Bay will feel livelier, more creative, there will simply be more to do and more places to go."

One area which could benefit from the project is Station Square in Paignton. This is one of potential number of Torbay masterplan/townscape development projects that the Great Place Scheme will add value to, focused on the area between the library, station and Paignton Picture House.

It is planned to bring in artists and residents to work with architects and planners to make this area more creative and pleasant to be in, with public art, better signage and way-finding, creating stronger links with the seafront.

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