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The University has committed to support an exciting project to showcase the city’s unique strengths and rich heritage

25 October 2023


People in Portsmouth are set to benefit from a £1.1m funding package to strengthen the city’s economic future and international reputation as a place for creative and cultural innovation. 

The money will be spent by Portsmouth Creates, a not-for-profit community organisation dedicated to growing the creative and cultural industries.

Arts Council England has announced Portsmouth Creates will receive £650,000 in the form of the Place Partnership award. The package will be spread over three years as part of the council’s National Lottery Project Grants Place Partnerships Fund. 

The successful bid aims to work with individuals and communities to build local capacity and highlight pathways, in turn attracting major new investment in the city.  

This significant increase of investment has been made possible through the invaluable contribution of £450,000 from its founding partners - University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth City Council, and Victorious Festival - who continue to play a pivotal role moving forward and maximising not only the funding, but also their expertise and strategic alignment. 

Portsmouth Creates

Seen with a piece of street outside the former Debenhams store are (left to right) James Ralls, Victorious Festival; Tim Rusby, Chair, Portsmouth Creates; Gemma Nicols, CEO Portsmouth Creates; Phil Gibby, Arts Council England; Steve Pitts, leader of Portsmouth City Council and Sarah Duckering, University of Portsmouth. Image credit Joe Watson

The University has committed £150,000 over the next three years out of its UKRI's Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) funding to support the project. HEIF is allocated to universities to support knowledge exchange.

Plans include a Business Support Programme, Creative Directory, and Sector Mapping exercise to identify skill gaps and opportunities across the city. 

Opportunities for young people include the development of a Youth Board Mentoring Scheme and Apprentice Programme, supporting the next generation of cultural leaders.  

From 2024, Portsmouth will host high-profile events in the creative calendar such as the We Connect Annual Conference and We Shine 2024 and 2026. In 2025, a programme of citywide celebrations will spotlight Portsmouth’s iconic role within the world of literature.

The Portsmouth Creates project is an exciting opportunity to showcase the city’s unique strengths and rich heritage.

Trevor Keeble, Executive Dean of Creative and Cultural Industries at University of Portsmouth

Trevor Keeble, Executive Dean of Creative and Cultural Industries at University of Portsmouth, said: “Our goal as a civic university is for our knowledge and skills to benefit the area we’re based in, so we’re proud to support an ambitious programme which aims to drive growth, develop talent and improve inclusivity across Portsmouth.

“The Portsmouth Creates project is an exciting opportunity to showcase the city’s unique strengths and rich heritage.”

Place Partnership delivery partners include University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth City Council, Victorious Festival, Shaping Portsmouth, Solent LEP, the Cultural Collective, and a host of Community Gateway Organisations facilitating a place-based solution to supporting the wider growth of Portsmouth’s creative economy.  

Portsmouth Creates CEO Gemma Nichols said: “As a Priority Place for Arts Council England, now is our time to ensure that the creatives, cultural organisations, and communities are given the skills and the confidence and opportunity to reach their full potential and beyond. 

“Portsmouth is a city full of creativity, through our programme our aim is to unlock much more of this. Through this Place Partnership Funding we will be utilising place-based working as a catalyst to create the step change needed in the city, working with multiple partners to transform Portsmouth’s cultural landscape.” 

South West Area Director, Phil Gibby, added: “We are delighted to announce a major new investment in Portsmouth today, thanks to the National Lottery. This funding, through Arts Council England’s Place Partnership Fund, reflects our confidence in the city’s ambitions to grow its cultural and creative sectors.  

“The ambition outlined in this application shows place-based working at its best; with Portsmouth Creates bringing a range of partners together to create a step-change in the city. It will make a transformative difference to Portsmouth’s outstanding creative talent and we very much look forward to the journey ahead."

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