The Arts Development Manager explained that the Thelma Hulbert Gallery (THG) operated as a ‘cultural hub’, supporting communities in their health, environment and well-being through a programme of exhibitions, events and workshops, which inspired, challenged and excited. It worked to support innovation in rural cultural production through partnership and collaboration. During her presentation the Arts Development Manager listed a number of partnerships and collaborations.
The Creative Cabin was developed in 2020-21 as a mobile creative space, which enabled the THG to take nature and culture on tour during the pandemic. It hosts an array of activities including workships, exhibitions, talks, performances and film. A new activity was ‘The Creative Cabin – Climate Conversations on Tour’.
During 2021 a Mike Perry Land/Sea exhibition was held at both THG and Ocean, Exmouth.
The Arts Development Manager outlined the 2022-23 forward programme for the Thelma Hulbert Gallery (THG) and how it linked with the Council Plan and its priorities. This included:
· The ‘Towards a new model for rural cultural production’ project, which would extend the THG’s impact across East Devon, rooting creativity in community and place and establishing a sub-regional strategic role for culture. It would help to stabilise East Devon’s arts ecology as a whole, linking culture and creativity into wider agendas such as climate emergency, inequality, rurality and post-pandemic recovery.
· Creative communities and the land – responding to diverse artistic perspectives, this would join with East Devon communities to explore inequality and environmental injustice, helping to realise a better future through individual and collective creative expression.
· Emerging Maker was the THG’s investment in the research and development of emerging craft makers. 30 graduate makers would be given a public platform at THG and Ocean, with mentoring and exhibition making support.
· Creative Cabin: climate conversions and routes for roots – Clyst Valley Regional Park
· Audience development:
o Re-engaging core audiences who had lapsed during the pandemic.
o Increasing the diversity of the audiences.
o Building the audience for contemporary art.
The THG was working in collaborative partnership with Leisure East Devon (LED) and had a second creative ‘hub’ at Ocean, Exmouth. This had a different character to THG and it was hoped that it would appeal to a different age group. At Ocean the aim was to engage a younger and more diverse audience, by offering an informal experience linked to social time and enjoyment of the beach and sea.
The Forum thanked the Arts Development Manager for her great presentation and congratulated her on all the fantastic work of the THG. They were delighted with the concept of the gallery being a cultural hub; taking the essence of the gallery into the community (outside of Honiton) and linking with other agencies, and encouraged the team to continue the journey. The Chair thanked the THG team for its adaptability and resilience and the Arts Development Manager commented on the support they had received in order to be so resilient, and in turn thanked the Council for being given drive, renewed energy and commitment. She also invited members to attend the ACED meeting on 7 February 2022.