Preserving a legacy for Chichester district's Culture Spark initiative
The Culture Spark campaign was launched through Chichester District Council as a response to the fact that so many different arts organisations in Chichester and the district were enjoying big anniversaries in the same year. 2022 has seen 60 years of Chichester Festival Theatre; ten years of the Festival of Chichester; 40 years of Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery; 30 years of Chichester Cinema at New Park’s international film festival; ten years of The Novium Museum; and 200 years of the Canal Trust. Culture Spark aimed to get them all working together – and Caroline Sharman-Mendoza, creative co-ordinator for the campaign, is hoping this will continue to happen: “It was about a celebration of the big milestones for all these organisations but it also came out of the pandemic, the thought that everybody could get together again after all the isolation of the lockdowns. The pandemic feels a million miles away now, but I remember that being a big part of the reason, a major part of the rationale for saying let's all get together and celebrate these anniversaries together. Then things grew from there and we built up lots of lovely partnerships across the district, setting up lots of lovely hubs. It really meant that we were able to go properly districtwide. That was a big part of the remit, to make the connections across the whole district so that there were no longer these isolated pockets. It's about saying let's all work together. And I think that's one of the big pluses that lives on, the fact that these organisations were able to come together and share ideas. I don't think it was a case that they weren't actually collaborating but it was a question of them realising that they could perhaps collaborate more. It wasn't the case that they were ignoring each other but maybe they didn't realise quite as much as they needed to the benefits of actually doing more together and just seeing the potential of having this raft of events together across the district. It was about helping to engineer a sense of connection between all organisations that had not worked so closely together before. And I think the big thing is the new connections that we made in Chichester and Petworth and so on. Witterings is taking longer, but it is getting going and it is now bubbling and Selsey is just beginning to get going as well. It is really starting to happen and people are really keen to do more going forward.
“When we launched it, it was really important – I think looking back – that we launched it in Selsey and Midhurst and in the cathedral. I'm now putting together a report on all the feedback that we have had. For the Carnival of Lights we had 2,500 people and that's a lot of people taking part and experiencing it, and there were a lot of artists involved in that which was really good and we also had the big events like the Art of Chichester and We The People. I really enjoyed it and I’m really keen that the connections that we made should continue. Culture Spark needs to finish now because it was about celebrating the anniversaries this year but these wonderful connections need to keep bubbling away.”