Shropshire Council

Our priorities

Cyclists on a hill


Using culture to support people to be active, happy, healthy and connected

Theatre SevernCulture makes us feel good, and there’s growing evidence that it can also help prevent, manage and treat a range of public and individual health problems. This is already happening in Shropshire - from supporting mental health in young people and adults to volunteering in nature and creating regular events for families affected by dementia to read, sing or dance together. Play is an important concept, which can be actively incorporated in activities to aid happiness and health. We want to ensure that the county’s cultural sector helps young and old, and everyone in between.

We will……

  • Help deliver health and wellbeing programmes, including the Integrated Care System, social prescribing, exercise on referral, physical activity and mental health initiatives, working in partnership with the NHS and other health and care providers
  • Collaborate with young people and those who work with them, to ensure countywide inclusion in culture for young people
  • Continue to develop family and school programmes at key cultural venues and sites to foster an active love of culture from an early age
  • Develop more intergenerational activity
  • Invest in and support cultural hubs to increase the opportunity to take part in culture across the county
  • Better understand and respond to the aspirations of under-represented groups in Shropshire and help address cultural diversity, including through schools
  • Encourage the inclusion of play within cultural activities, including through training and support for organisers
  • Transform leisure provision in Shropshire, so that there’s a more joined-up, commercial approach that works with local communities for the benefit of all
  • Develop ‘taster’ sessions so that people can have a go before having to commit
  • Support and provide training for volunteers, including befriending initiatives to help those who are more isolated build confidence
  • Develop and deliver a library transformation strategy for Shropshire, maximising the positive impact of library services in the heart of our communities
  • Develop marketing that promotes activities to local markets
  • Encourage more local action on climate change

“It’s great to feel happy – participating in cultural activity, going out, joining in gives you a good feeling”

Consultee, Shropshire Culture workshop 


Culture better supports the growth of the local economy and creates more opportunities to earn a living

Girl in a libraryCulture is made by people. Our principle is to support the people who make and look after our culture and to develop new talent for future generations. Shropshire has award-winning visitor attractions, internationally recognised heritage locations, a vibrant independent arts, crafts, leisure and retail offer and a renowned foodie culture. For Shropshire to thrive the focus will need to be on investment and funding for those businesses and professionals that make up the county’s cultural economy, which will include the development of products, services and experiences for residents and visitors alike.

We will:                                                                            

  • Support new and existing cultural organisations in the sector, working with the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and business improvement districts
  • Develop stronger links to professional practice, including research with University Centre, Shrewsbury
  • Help businesses gain support through recovery funds, the Shared Prosperity Fund and other relevant funding
  • Provide training programmes for cultural organisations to support innovative and sustainable practices – commercially, environmentally and technologically
  • Explore affordable, flexible co-working space in key locations
  • Nurture new talent through opportunities for volunteering, work placements and apprenticeships, developing pathways into the cultural sector
  • Better understand the value of volunteering in supporting economic and social outcomes
  • Encourage climate change mitigation as an integral part of business development

“There's a wealth of creativity in the region - a lot of self-starters who have moved here as well as creative locals. Often the more rural, the more creative - simply because they've had to be more inventive with their resources!”

     Consultee, Shropshire Culture Workshop


Delighting and surprising visitors and residents with independent, authentic experiences

Ludlow Food FestivalCulture inspires, delights and surprises us. It’s an expression of shared human experience seen through the distinctive lens of a particular place. There’s a strong cultural tourism market in Shropshire, with a huge variety of things to see and do. These drive high levels of local engagement and are much loved by Shropshire people. We also recognise that much more could be done to attract visitors from elsewhere to explore all that the county has to offer.

We will…

  • Agree branding, marketing and a new narrative for the county, which promotes Shropshire as a cultural destination for local, national and international visitors
  • Encourage joint promotion of local cultural activities that celebrates variety and diversity, linked to sustainable transport and digital access
  • Commission new research into the visitor economy to better understand performance and customer needs
  • Develop a ‘destination management plan’ for the county
  • Investigate the development of a tourism business improvement district or tourism action zone
  • Encourage a more sustainable approach to tourism, including behaviour change, nature recovery approaches, energy efficiency, and carbon off-setting
  • Encourage the development of more outdoor adventures and experiences
  • Develop experiences based on influential Salopians and what they represent, including Charles Darwin, Mary Webb, Eglantyne Jebb and many others
  • Promote artisan producers of local food and drink through markets, festivals and business support
  • Get behind national events and initiatives which could benefit the whole county, for example the Commonwealth Games and the Platinum Jubilee in 2022


Harnessing ‘ownership’ and pride in local places for the benefit of all

People cheeringThe most successful places have a strong ‘sense of place’ forged through distinctive natural and built environments and the interactions of people with them, and with each other. In other words, ‘culture makes place’. Shropshire has a wealth of cultural assets and activities across its towns and villages, with a strong foundation in its rich heritage and rural traditions. There is huge potential for people-led place-shaping, supported by creative communities and businesses, which will make Shropshire more attractive for inward investment.

We will…

  • Encourage cultural diversity by providing opportunities for more communities and communities-of-interest
  • Support the successful delivery of place plans, including the Oswestry Heritage High Street project and Shrewsbury Big Town Plan
  • Explore opportunities for repurposing heritage buildings with local communities, for example for creative workspace and music venues, catering to different tastes
  • Investigate possible restoration and repurposing of nationally important cultural assets, for example Shrewsbury Castle and Mount House, Darwin’s birthplace
  • Increase accessibility to cultural attractions and activities
  • Create a network of community cultural hubs across the county, building on existing hubs such as libraries and community buildings, and help ensure good transportation, access and facilities
  • Focus on low-cost activities in local areas to engage more people
  • Investigate having indoor and sheltered outdoor spaces that belong to children and young people which they can programme and manage themselves, including the provision of music and film
  • Ensure existing venues are energy efficient and accessible
  • Contribute to the development of a new active travel plan for Shropshire
  • Develop more sustainable transport options, including electric buses
  • Support venues of all sizes to be environmentally sustainable.

“The best kept secrets are the unlocked potential of our village halls and our historic churches.”

Consultee, Shropshire Culture workshop 

Severn Valley Country Park aerial view...


Shropshire HillsShropshire’s high-quality natural landscapes are valued and enhanced for future generations 

Shropshire’s natural assets are some of the most magnificent in the country. They’re supported by strong local partnerships and have global recognition. These assets give us the opportunity to focus on nature recovery and climate change mitigation, alongside ongoing habitat management and public engagement. Following the coronavirus outbreak, the importance of our outdoor spaces has been reaffirmed.

“Shropshire has an active environmental campaigning network, independent whole foods suppliers, green party. Linked to the fact it appears to have a good percentage of culturally switched on people there is room here for something unique and important.’”

Consultee, Shropshire Culture workshop

We will….

  • Develop and promote sustainability and nature as a core part of the Shropshire destination brand
  • Use culture to foster an active love of nature that helps more people engage with the environment in a sustainable way
  • Help ensure the Shropshire Hills AONB is recognised for its high-quality environment, and supported so that this is sustained and enhanced
  • Work with Natural England on the successful introduction of the new environmental land management schemes.
  • Continue to ensure that schools and young people engage with and learn from the natural environment
  • Develop habitat conservation and enhancement projects for key sites, including in towns
  • Safeguard key sites as local nature reserves
  • Publish sustainability guidance for venues of all sizes, backed up by a support and training programme
  • Develop nature recovery plans


Driving innovation, including digital development, to enhance cultural experiences, improve physical and intellectual access and tackle social isolation

Child with VR headsetIn the early 18th Century, the Industrial Revolution was built on Shropshire’s innovation, resources and entrepreneurial spirit. Today’s cultural practitioners can embrace the fourth industrial revolution in how they shape products and services and engage with people. Social media, live streaming and the possibilities of virtual and augmented reality all came to the fore during the coronavirus lockdown months in 2020. There are a good number of tech companies in the county and excellent connectivity in most areas, which together present a great opportunity for Shropshire to develop its capacity, profile and reach, and open up new income streams for culture.

Other opportunities for innovation will be welcomed, learning from good practice elsewhere in the country and across the world.

We will……

  • Embed digital knowledge in the cultural sector through better engagement with creative tech companies to develop new cultural experiences
  • Develop digital capacity through events and training programmes for cultural participation
  • Use technology to make sites more accessible to encourage greater use by those with specific needs
  • Present culture in a way that is relevant and exciting for new audiences
  • Increase digital capacity of staff, volunteers and audiences
  • Ensure that there is fit-for-purpose digital connectivity across the county, including the introduction of 5G
  • Make more IT equipment and support available, for example through libraries
  • Develop a network of young creatives and others to consider innovative, ground-breaking, new approaches


Forge strong partnerships to drive forward our shared cultural ambition

Culture is about connecting people. Existing partnerships bring together organisations to agree shared ambitions and priorities that help shape the landscape of culture in Shropshire. There’s also a strong tradition of effective collaboration and partnership working. There is, however, a need to establish a dedicated partnership to develop and deliver the cultural strategy.

We will….

  • Develop an independent cultural partnership, which brings together a range of cross-sector interests to help deliver this cultural strategy
  • Develop relationships with key sector partners and networks in health, diversity, the economy and the environment
  • Develop a community forum for grassroots cultural organisations to network and share practice, including ‘friends’ groups – and connect this to the work of the cultural partnership
  • Develop a core ‘place’ proposition - a major county-wide project that delivers the cultural strategy and enables employment of paid, professional staff
  • Develop a ‘cultural compact’ with ACE and partnership agreements with National Lottery, Sports England and others
  • Develop a framework to create better data about how culture impacts positively on economy, health and wellbeing and the environment
  • Explore the development of the partnership into a ‘cultural trust’ to enable greater fundraising and protection of assets.
  • Develop strong partnership with national and regional organisations, such as the British Museum.

“Personally, I'd like to see Shropshire regarded as the cultural capital of the West Mids!”

Consultee, Shropshire Culture workshop

Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery on YouTube... 

How will we measure success?

A detailed evidence base has been commissioned to build the foundation for this cultural strategy. This provides a good snapshot of where we’re starting from.

It includes national data from:

We’ll monitor the local data we hold on:

  • Numbers of unused/underused buildings
  • Energy and water monitoring

We’ll conduct local research on progress to date, including the numbers and locations of:

  • Creative businesses and cultural enterprises, including charities and CICs
  • Cultural venues and workspaces
  • Festivals

We'll also work through the Cultural Partnership to develop a local framework of indicators to include:

  • Investment in environmental change mitigation projects
  • Visitor numbers to key destinations
  • Number of volunteers
  • Number of children and young people involved
  • Customer satisfaction surveys
  • Investment and finance metrics

Delivery and ownership

Shropshire HillsThis strategy has been adopted by Shropshire Council and was supported by a range of strategic partners through the Cultural Strategy Working Group.

An independent cultural partnership will be set up in 2021 to guide the delivery of this strategy, whose purpose will be to lead place-based development of culture, connecting the cultural sector with other key sectors such as health and the economy, creating opportunities for engagement and enabling collaboration with partners.

The strategy will work alongside the individual business plans and artistic ambitions of the cultural sectors, the strategic plans of key stakeholders such as Arts Council England and Historic England, and Shropshire Council’s corporate plan.

Delivery of the strategy will adapt and respond to local, regional, national and international policies to ensure the vision and priorities remain valid.

A three-year implementation plan will be developed by the cultural partnership, setting out detailed activity under each of the key high-level priorities. The plan will be published online and be a live document.

The vision and key priorities of the strategy should also be viewed alongside plans from other stakeholders, in particular the Marches LEP Local Industrial Strategy, Shropshire’s Economic Growth Strategy, Shropshire’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy, Energize, the Shropshire Hills AONB Management Plan, the Actively Improving Lives Strategy, the Shropshire’s Great Outdoors Strategy and Arts Council England – ‘Let’s Create’ Strategy.


People in a heart shapeThe impact of the coronavirus pandemic on society is likely to be felt for the lifetime of this strategy.

Given the ongoing local authority funding pressures, the development of culture in Shropshire can’t be reliant on council revenue funding. For the strategy to be delivered, we’ll need to work collaboratively with the private sector, charitable donations and grant-giving bodies on innovative funding and investment models. Funding sources may include Arts Council England cultural development and investment funds, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the DCMS Tourism Action Zone and the potential development of a tourism or cultural improvement district, alongside opportunities for business sponsorship, environmental, social, governance (ESG) investment, planning gain, carbon off-setting and a range of other funding.

The effective fundraising activity of volunteers, ‘friends’ groups and place-based working has and can continue to play an important part in this.

This will require a true partnership approach to share and grow staff resources, reducing competition for funding and minimising duplication of effort.