Arts groups join to set up 'cultural one-stop shop'
A NEW "cultural one-stop shop" has been launched to make it easier for people across Plymouth to benefit from the arts.
The city's five main arts organisations have joined forces under the banner of new organisation Wired.
WORKING TOGETHER: At the official launch of Wired at TR2 are Debbie Geraghty, Victoria Allen, Emma Hoare, Councillor Pete Brookshaw, Kate Sparshatt and Sheila Snellgrove
The consortium was launched at TR2, the Theatre Royal's production centre at Cattedown.
Sheila Snellgrove, chief executive of the Barbican Theatre and chair of Wired, said: "There are some fantastic organisations in Plymouth, doing fantastic work, and this is an opportunity to join it all up."
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Wired was given about £50,000 of start-up funding from Plymouth City Council and the Arts Council. It will have to pay for itself through commissions.
The consortium consists of Plymouth Arts Centre, the Theatre Royal, Barbican Theatre, Attik Dance and Plymouth Music Zone.
"In these difficult times with constrained budgets we can do more by working together," Ms Snellgrove said.
"The cultural sector is one of the success stories of Plymouth, but we want to grow. What's new is our aim to work on a wider scale across the city."
She said Wired aimed to bring the benefits of the arts to the 71,000 people in Plymouth who are among the 20 per cent most deprived in the country.
The group would focus particularly on the 56,000 people aged 18 and under.
She assured smaller arts groups and freelance artists that they would also benefit.
She said Wired was created to stop big national companies coming in and taking over from local groups.
"Whole areas of health are being taken over by national companies," she said. "Unless we create something that can grow local arts and culture, we are in danger of losing it."
As a consortium it would have more power to bid for funding and resources to help smaller groups and individuals working on projects in the city.
Kath Davies, Plymouth City Council's principal arts officer, said: "The man in the street can expect an exciting programme of events that is relevant to them. For example, Wired might support community festivals to grow."
Representatives of arts organisations across the city were entertained by dancers from Attik 360 and the singer/songwriter Josie Newton, who is shortlisted in the young musician category of the Herald's Youth Awards 2010.
Peter Flukes, of the Wolseley Trust, said: "I would like this to go bigger than Wired is planning, and for the arts to be part of all the youth activities in the city."
Councillor Peter Brookshaw, the city's Cabinet member for community services, with responsibility for leisure, culture and sport, welcomed the launch of Wired.
He said the consortium had "come on board" with the council's policy of joined-up working. He vowed to fight to defend the city's spending on the arts in the face of massive budget cuts, but warned: "It's going to be difficult for everybody in this economic climate."
Debbie Geraghty, of Plymouth Music Zone, said: "Wired is about exciting people and inspiring them."
In a message read to the launch audience, Adrian Vinken, chief executive of the Theatre Royal, said: "We believe culture is the glue that holds the city and the community together.
"Wired is about delivery of the arts strategy on the ground, to make a bigger impact on the people of Plymouth."
Kate Sparshatt, of Plymouth Arts Centre, called on people involved in community arts to get in touch with Wired. Find out more about the consortium at www.wiredplymouth.com