Councillor Paul Arnott with EDDC’s new cultural producer Sarah Elghady and Cllr Nick Hookway. The paintings in the background are by artist Michael Buckland. Credit: EDDC).
Councillor Paul Arnott with EDDC’s new cultural producer Sarah Elghady and Cllr Nick Hookway. The paintings in the background are by artist Michael Buckland. Credit: EDDC).

Exciting plans to grow East Devon’s arts and culture scene over the next decade will be led by a newly appointed specialist.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) revealed the news of its new cultural producer Sarah Elghady this week.

Sarah has been tasked with making the authority’s dream vision, as part of its 10-year  ‘cultural strategy’, a reality.

This includes work which aims to strengthen, promote and grow arts and culture, offering high quality creative opportunities, for people of all ages in all communities.

Sarah, who is an experienced arts fundraiser, an Exeter’s Northcott Theatre trustee and worked at London’s The Old Vic theatre, said:

I’m thrilled to be returning to work in Devon, where my family is from, and delivering this exciting and ambitious new cultural strategy.

There’s already so many creative initiatives happening in East Devon and I’m looking forward to getting to know the members of the Arts and Culture East Devon (ACED) Network, which connects the artistic communities and provides a central platform to engage, promote and talk about arts and culture across the region. 

One of my current priorities will be to strengthen and support these individuals and community-led organisations by delivering a training programme over the next three years, funded by the by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Training will cover fundraising, marketing, governance, business planning, digital transformation, reducing carbon impact, as well as training in core creative skills, such as producing live events and collections management.

Anyone interested in these opportunities can join the ACED Network and sign up for the ACED newsletter for more information.

Councillor Nick Hookway, EDDC’s portfolio holder for tourism, sport, leisure and culture, added:

The strategy celebrates the strengths of our beautiful and welcoming district and aims to grow the cultural offer in East Devon over the next decade.

Culture will help enhance our everyday lives, bringing benefits for health, happiness and wellbeing for all ages.

It adds to the vibrancy and attractiveness of our communities and provides opportunities for volunteering.

The economic benefits range from new training and skills pathways that help us retain younger people, through to increased tourist visits and spend.

Many of the initiatives outlined here scale up and add value to projects already underway by EDDC, including tackling climate change, economic development, place-making, health and housing.

The strategy sets out a vision that we hope everyone will embrace, but in practical terms is focussed on where we feel our council can have the most effective impact.

Some of our plans will be implemented across the whole district and open to all; others are targeted at places or people where need or opportunity are greatest, or where there is a particular gap.

We can’t and won’t do everything at once. Some actions will be delivered immediately; others are more complex and will emerge over the next five to ten years as we raise inward investment and work with partners to achieve them. I’m very grateful to everyone who has helped to inform and shape this strategy.

I am delighted that we have an ambitious and practical framework for culture and look forward to working with many local residents and organisations to shape an exciting, creative future for East Devon.