A message from our founder, Kit Chapman MBE

Somerset needs a vibrant, forward-thinking county town at its centre. This is a vital step towards regenerating the county’s reputation and its economy; and towards improving residents’ well-being and lifestyles.

A prime cultural location

A successful town, like any successful enterprise, needs a competitive edge. More than that, it needs distinctive positioning and a sense of place in our society. For Taunton, Somerset’s county town, we need that now!

Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

Our town centre is poised for major redevelopment. This gives us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something truly spectacular for Somerset. Indeed, to do something of national significance.

Arts Taunton, a registered charity just six years old, is convinced that culture and the arts will provide Taunton with that much needed point of distinction. We want to see Taunton transformed into a prime regional centre for culture, entertainment and leisure in South West England.

We believe that culture is the answer. But why?

World-class arts and entertainment have regenerated towns like Margate and Gateshead where new arts venues have attracted thousands of visitors, reviving the towns’ fortunes, proving that culture pays. But it’s not just about economics. Arts and culture have a crucial social function. They drive a better quality of life and wellbeing. They are essential to education. They stimulate the creative industries and promote tourism. Above all, arts and culture are best placed to build an area’s reputation by establishing a unique sense of place.

Some of our ideas

To make this happen here, we need to begin thinking like a city, Somerset’s ‘capital city’. We want to see a town alive with top quality cultural and entertainment events, great public art, innovative landscaping; and a monumental, landmark artwork heralding Taunton as the ‘Gateway to the South West’.

A vital part of our work is to help facilitate an great new arts venue which will draw audiences of all ages and tastes to Taunton. We want this space to become a magnet for the people of our community to meet and gather, as well as becoming a major institution for visitors nationwide to discover.

How will all this be funded?

But here’s the rub! We live in an age of shrinking budgets. The public purse is under extreme pressure. And we can no longer rely on our local authorities for the support they might once have provided. If we want our vision to be realised, the time has come for each one of us to use our imagination and look to ourselves.

For Arts Taunton, our long-term goal is clear. The young campaign group that exists today will, over time and with your help, evolve into a development agency capable of administering grants and helping arts providers to advance their own cultural programmes. Indeed, this work has already made a tentative start.

Join us!

So, if we are to be successful, we need your support, and the support of thousands of people like you! Arts Taunton welcomes individuals, arts groups, businesses and employers. To join us, please contact us by emailing: [email protected]

Kit Chapman signature

Kit Chapman MBE
Arts Taunton