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'Let's talk about arts and heritage in South Kesteven'

Column by Coun Matthew Lee, leader of South Kesteven District Council

The new Visitor Guide to South Kesteven is out now and it is packed full of places to visit and things to do across the district this year.

I passionately believe a thriving arts, heritage and cultural scene with lots of events, activities and opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds is absolutely vital in creating a better quality of life for our residents.

Our communities need more than just good housing, successful businesses and a plentiful supply of job opportunities. Our towns and villages need to be vibrant, fun places where families and friends enjoy spending time together.

Last year was a fantastic year with events including the internationally-renowned Grantham’s Gravity Fields Festival that attracted audiences of over 80,000 from across the globe bringing a major boost to the local economy.Great events, such as our hugely popular Georgian Festival that returns to Stamford this September, bring residents and visitors into the town centre to spend their time and money which all helps to keep our local economy booming.

We want our exciting and varied programme of events to continue to flourish to make South Kesteven one of the most popular places to live and visit in the UK. That is why we are beginning to work on a new cultural strategy for the district.

We have begun a wide-ranging consultation with everyone involved in the arts, heritage and culture to help us develop a cultural strategy that will be innovative, engaging and relevant to our residents and bring visitors and new businesses to the area to support our economic growth.

We invited individual artists, small groups and larger organisations to the first of four consultation events on Wednesday evening at Stamford Arts Centre to ‘join the conversation’ and share their expertise and ideas on where we could invest in the future and the challenges and opportunities we may face.

The next event will be in Grantham on 29 January, in Bourne on 31 January and the Deepings on 12 February. Then a wider programme of consultation will follow in the spring to give other interested parties the chance to get involved.

South Kesteven already has a thriving arts scene and there are several events coming up that I must mention to you.

The Classical Music Season at Stamford Arts Centre which started in October, is bringing first-class concerts to our district every month until May.

And in May, there is Deepings Literary Festival - a fantastic example of what can be achieved when communities come together.Then in September, we are working with Coventry based Imagineer Productions on Bridge – an ambitious outdoor art and engineering project in Grantham.

We have already laid fantastic foundations for South Kesteven to become one of the UK’s centres of art and cultural excellence and by working together I believe we can really build upon our success.

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