Agenda and draft minutes

Culture, Arts & Heritage Executive Advisory Committee - Monday, 19th February, 2024 4.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Fenland Hall, County Road, March, PE15 8AQ

Contact: Helen Moore  Member Services and Governance Officer

No. Item


Previous Minutes pdf icon PDF 59 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of 3 October 2023.


The minutes of the meeting of 3 October 2023 were confirmed and signed.



Creativity & Culture Development Officer Update

·         UK: Shared Prosperity Funded ‘Amplifying Community Art & Culture’ Project

·         Fenland Culture Fund

·         Fenland Poet Laureate Awards

·         Integrated Care System Funded ‘Express Yourself’ Project

·         Fenland Culture Partnership and Sub-groups


UK:Shared Prosperity Funded ‘Amplifying Art & Culture Project


Jamie-Lea Taylor updated members as follows:

·         After receiving support from external partner colleagues who at that time were part of what is now the Fenland Culture Partnership (FCP), Fenland District Council (FDC) were successful in achieving £120,000 for this project that has now been in delivery since the summer of 2023 and thanks to the significant part-funding from this project, the Creativity & Culture Development Officer role has had its extension confirmed, until September 2025, which will total 4 years of the role, all of which has been significantly externally funded.

·         There is a capital spend amount within the project of £15,000 total that is split across the years 2023/24 and 2024/25 with proposals being worked up with members of the FCP which will involve Councillor Seaton as Portfolio Holder and Councillor Sennitt Clough as Chairman of this committee as they are both involved with the FCP.

·         There is a remaining commission budget of which the FCP has plans to prepare a brief of media work to document, celebrate, showcase, promote and raise the profile and awareness of culture, art and heritage in Fenland associated with the Fenland Cultural Strategy, which will help the Council to meet the corporate objective whilst also being a really powerful tool for the Council and the sector in promoting the area.

·         The first round of the Fenland Culture Fund (FCF) was entirely externally funded by the Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) and supported by Arts Culture England (ACE). It opened for applications on 9 October 2023, and closed six weeks later on 20 November.

·         There has been a Culture Arts Section Scheme within the Council associated with the FCS, it was successful with 42 applications totalling more than £70,000 worth of projects and activity. Due to the high number of quality applications, the FCF budget was increased for round one using additional SPF project budget by more than £10,000, so were really pleased to be able to notify 19 of those that were awarded, and they had a combined value of £34,000.

·         There was a great press release and strong promotional support throughout by the in-house Communications Team when this was launched in October 2023 to raise the profile of the range of activity that was funded to take place right across the district, with the news story including three examples, but also the full list of everyone awarded.

·         Some things have begun taking place already, for example, Life & Soul of the Straw Bear Photographic Exhibition in Whittlesey by a local photographer, others are lined up throughout the coming weeks and months, just this weekend there was the International Food Festival which was part funded by the FCF in Wisbech, so it will be great to see a real spread of activity both location wise but a range of types of activity too with it making a big difference to have these positive stories to share and promote culture and heritage in Fenland.

·         In the next round some funding  ...  view the full minutes text for item CAH9/23


Literary Festival


Councillor Sennitt Clough updated members on her suggestion for trialling a Literary Festival in Whittlesey which will take place later this year and depending on how that is received she will approach the Arts Council. She stated that if this proves to be successful the thoughts are to extend the Literary Festival across Fenland and in subsequent years this Festival would serve to put Fenland on the map because Fenland has the capability to be a literary powerhouse, and also to promote the local playwriters, poets and novelists and inspire local creatives with workshops and discussions around all the different literary genres.


Councillor Sennitt Clough stated, if successful, the plan would be to develop a rotating basis across the parishes and towns of Fenland starting at Whittlesey with the name of ‘The Whit Lit Festival’ to take place later this year.


Members made comments, asked questions, and received responses as follows:

·         Councillor Count stated he would like to understand what the Chairman envisions the Literary Festival to look like and to understand the rotation plans for the other towns and parishes. Councillor Sennitt Clough responded the plan would be to have a day where local novelists, playwrights and poets get invited to read some of their work, plus having some workshops given by the creative novelists and poets to inspire local people, then in the evening holding an event where adults and young people can get a chance to read their work and give them a bit of a showcase, which would all happen over one day. She referred to the question of rotation stating she was open to suggestions and would be happy to hold a debrief after the Whittlesey Festival to see if this is a viable option moving forward and how the expansion would work.

·         Councillor Count commented would there be a way in which this idea could be connected to the Summer Reading Challenge.

·         Councillor Nawaz stated he is happy to see this happening in Whittlesey and feels this would be a good opportunity to call upon literature work from the past, competitions between individuals, schools, and institutions, and also this idea would lend itself to plays, sketches, school plays and drama competitions. He added that he is in favour of this idea and feels this is good platform for the young people, mental health needs and inspiration for all.

·         Councillor Count stated if Wisbech Museum was able to make available the copy of the original manuscript of the Great Expectations, if it is appropriately protected, he feels this would be a good addition to the festival.

·         Councillor Sennitt Clough agreed this would also be a nice segue to heritage which is another arm to the committee.

·         Councillor Hoy stated Wisbech does have something similar called Wisbech Reads and it might be worth making contact to get some learning from how this works.

·         Councillor Sennitt Clough thanked the panel for its input and will now take the idea to the Arts Council.


Members AGREED to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item CAH10/23



Raising the profile of Culture, Art and Heritage in Fenland to the local community and further afield  


Jamie-Lea Taylor advised members that communications has been part of the theme that has been spoken about a lot this afternoon, it is a corporate priority of the Council to work with Partners to promote Fenland through culture and heritage and it is a key part of the four strands of the Cultural Strategy. She added that it was identified that there is a lot happening within cultural activities, for the people who know about it events are really well supported but there is a perception that there was not a lot happening at all and by having a focused communications campaign that celebrates Fenland through the people involved and their achievement and what they are doing supports Fenland to be a cultural destination and raise the promotion of that.


Jamie-Lea Taylor stated that with the new subgroup that is starting and the support of the FDC Communications Team there is a lot of potential to celebrate what is happening which can only be positive thing.


Members made comments, asked questions, and received responses as follows:

·         Councillor Hicks stated he saw on the television that Norfolk Council have got an initiative to promote Norfolk by inviting TV and film crews to actively make TV series and films in the area and asked is this something that could be considered for the Fenland area? Jamie-Lea Taylor stated she would look into this as from a heritage perspective a lot of organisations like museums and National Trust properties find that a lot of revenue is generated from filming locations, and it can be really successful.

·         Councillor Nawaz requested clarification on what the Communications subgroup does. Jamie-Lea Taylor replied this group has its first meeting coming up and they will be discussing what they would like to achieve as a new group with the focus on communicating and marketing anything creative, cultural, arts and heritage in Fenland.

·         Councillor Purser stated he felt this would help local councillors to talk to residents about the things that are going on, not only through social media but other means too.

·         Councillor Sennitt Clough agreed it is finding different ways to reach people especially for those who are not on line, with leaflet drops being one option. Jamie-Lea Taylor stated this is something that is being investigated and the Communications Team are being really supportive with ideas and new ways to share information.


Members noted the information provided.


Any Other Business


Councillor Hicks asked the question concerning Fenland Culture Fund when the funding is given if the money is not all used does it get rolled over or does the money not used have to be given back? Jamie-Lea Taylor responded with the last fund there was an over subscription in terms of the applications that came in initially, an amount had been set aside and there were loads of interest, so the pot was able to be increased and there was nothing left in that round other than some money which was held back to support the second round which is planned for the Summer.


Councillor Hicks asked for clarity in relation to if the pot has extra money does it roll over? Jamie-Lea Taylor confirmed each funder is different and for some funders if the budget is not spent it will need to be returned but it is a case-by-case funder that has different requirements.