NORTH and south Somerset have been included in Arts Council England's list of priority places to bring more cultural experiences to previously underserved areas. 

The council's Delivery Plan for 2021-24 sets out a roadmap to implement its 'Let's Create' strategy, which aims to make England "a country in which the creativity of each individual is valued and given the chance to flourish, and where everyone has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences". 

North Somerset has been included as one of 11 priority places in the south west, with a focus on Weston-super-Mare, and south Somerset has also been prioritised, focusing on Yeovil. 

In these places, Arts Council England will work with stakeholders to develop new opportunities for increased investment in culture, both from the council and from other partners. 

Granting priority place status is intended to give more people the opportunity to enjoy cultural experiences in their communities as the country recovers from the pandemic.

Priority status also recognises the need for increased development time for the Arts Council to raise cultural investment in those areas. 

Across England, 54 local authorities have been named as priority places. 

Phil Gibby, area director of Arts Council England, South West, said: "Arts Council England is pleased to share our approach to place-based working, and as part of this, we are delighted to confirm the 11 south west places that we will prioritise from 2021 to 2024.

"In deciding on these priority places, we considered both the needs of local audiences, and the strength of our partnerships with local authorities, local cultural education partnerships, and higher education institutes.

"We look forward to collaborating closely with our partners in the 11 priority places over the next three years, beginning with a series of foundation meetings this autumn, in which we will come together in each place to agree on a set of jointly held cultural ambitions.

"By joining forces in this way, we hope to ensure that more people in our region have the opportunity to take part in creativity in the places where they live and work, and to experience for themselves the power of culture to bring people together, support local economies, and make lives better."

In the last decade, the Arts Council has shifted its investment outside London, and the Let's Create strategy will focus more on places that have been underserved in the past. 

In other locations, Arts Council funding programmes such as Creative People & Places, the new Place Partnership Fund, National Lottery Project Grants and Developing Your Creative Practice will increase. 

Arts Council England Chief Executive Darren Henley said: "Artists, arts organisations, museums and libraries have found creative new ways to serve their audiences and communities since the start of the pandemic.

"Our new Delivery Plan shows how we’ll work with them to build on that spirit of imagination and innovation as our society reopens.

"It’s particularly exciting to be focusing on our 54 priority places over the coming years as part of the Arts Council’s commitment to play its part in delivering on the government’s programme of levelling up.

"We’re looking forward to nurturing dynamic new partnerships with local people and organisations in each of these locations."

The Arts Council's Delivery Plan follows the government’s £1.96 billion Culture Recovery Fund, administered by the Arts Council and other bodies.

The Culture Recovery Fund is the largest-ever one-off government investment in culture. 

The full list of priority places in the south west is: Gloucester, Gosport, Isles of Scilly, Isle of Wright, New Forest, North Devon, North Somerset (with a focus on Weston-super-Mare, Portsmouth, Rushmoor, South Somerset (with a focus on Yeovil) and Swindon.