Arts, culture and leisure
Culture, creativity and community heritage are embedded in our daily lives. The arts, heritage and leisure sectors can support both mental and physical wellbeing and provide vital opportunities for communities to come together and share unique experiences that build community identity. The arts, entertainment and recreation also play an important role in supporting our healthy local economy and provides life-long learning opportunities for the whole community.
There is a strong programme of cultural opportunities led by a number of professional and volunteer cultural organisations across Wiltshire. In 2019, over £500,000 pounds of lottery money was used to fund 28 arts, cultural and heritage projects across the county. Wiltshire is also the home to a large number of artists, designers and arts practitioners who contribute to the local creative economy. In 2018/19, community area board grants supported approximately 40 arts and cultural initiatives and groups.
The following information provides comparative analysis of a range of key indicators relating to arts, heritage and leisure in Wiltshire and is intended as a resource to help identify local priorities at community area level. The information reflects levels of local engagement with libraries and leisure centres, employment in arts, entertainment and recreation, and details of some local cultural and leisure assets and activities.
The information below covers the following areas:
Links to other thematic areas
Arts, culture and leisure assets
Wiltshire has many assets that can support arts, heritage, leisure and libraries.
Definition: Historic Properties including National Trust properties and Country Houses. Some historic houses are also accredited museums. Venues hosting cultural programmes include arts venues, theatres, galleries, civic halls, cinemas, community and village halls, bandstands and recording studios but excludes pubs, churches, faith buildings, bookshops and educational establishments, many of which are used for culture and entertainment.
Data Source and Time Period: Wiltshire Council, January 2019.
Visits to Wiltshire Council libraries
There were over 1.6 million visits to Wiltshire Council's static and mobile libraries and the Wiltshire & Swindon Heritage Centre library in 2018/2019. Salisbury library had the highest visitor numbers and accounted for 23% of the total number of visits to Wiltshire libraries.
Definition: Number of visits to a Wiltshire Council library and the Wiltshire & Swindon Heritage Centre library in a year.
Data Source and Time Period: Wiltshire Council, 2018/19.
34% of Wiltshire residents are members of a library. Engagement with libraries varies greatly across Wiltshire. Salisbury has the greatest proportional level of engagement and Southern Wiltshire the lowest proportional level of engagement.
Definition: Percentage of the population who were a library member by community area as of April 2019 and ONS mid-year 2018 population figures.
Data Source and Time Period: Wiltshire Council, April 2019.
Over 900 individuals support Wiltshire Council libraries and on average a community area has 51 volunteers. The Royal Wootton Bassett and Cricklade community area has a much higher number of volunteers which is likely a due to having 4 libraries in the area, more than any other community area. Per library Salisbury has the most volunteers.
Definition: Number of volunteers supporting Wiltshire Council libraries.
Data Source and Time Period: Wiltshire Council, April 2019.
Visits to Wiltshire Council owned leisure facilities
There were nearly 3,500,000 visits to a Wiltshire Council owned leisure centre during 2018/19. The Salisbury area accounted for 14% of these visits followed by Trowbridge, which accounted for 10%.
Definition: Number of visits to a Wiltshire Council owned leisure centre, swimming pool and health and wellbeing centre during 2018/19.
Data Source and Time Period: Wiltshire Council, 2018/19.
Data in relation to physical activity is not routinely collected and we rely instead on estimates modelled on survey data. The most recent of these (the 2017/18 Active Lives Survey, conducted by Sport England) indicates that the percentage of adults aged 19 years and over in Wiltshire participating in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week is 70.8%. As data in relation to physical activity in adults is only available at Wiltshire, as opposed to community area level, the graph above shows the number of adults in each community area who participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week if the 2017/18 Wiltshire wide percentage of 70.8% was applied to the local population aged 19 years and over.
Definition: The number of respondents to the Sport England Active Lives Survey aged 19 and over, with valid responses to questions on physical activity, doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity equivalent (MIE) physical activity per week in bouts of 10 minutes or more in the previous 28 days expressed as a percentage of the total number of respondents aged 19 and over.
Data Source and Time Period: Active Lives Survey, Sport England, 2017/18.
Workforce employed in the Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation sector
2.5% of Wiltshire's workforce are employed in the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation sector. Wilton, Tidworth and Marlborough have a notably higher percentage of the workforce employed in the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation sector than Wiltshire whilst Mere has a notably lower percentage.
Definition: Percentage of the workforce in a community area employed in the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation sector.
Data Source and Time Period: The Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES), extracted from NOMIS https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/ in December 2019 (2018 data).
Unique visits to community pages on Our Community Matters website
154,614 visits were made to the Our Community Matters website during 2019. Most of these visits were for the Chippenham area followed by the Salisbury area. On average 8,292 visits were made per community area board.
Definition: Number of Unique Visits to Our Community Matters pages on https://ocm.wiltshire.gov.uk/.
Data Source and Time Period: Wiltshire Council, 2019.
Cultural events and activities
There is a strong programme of cultural opportunities led by a number of professional and voluntary cultural organisations across Wiltshire. The information provided below represents a sample of activities for each community and is not meant as a definitive list. Information has been included where major arts organisations and museums are supported by Wiltshire Council to deliver a broad programme of events and participation activities; many of whom have also received funding from Arts Council England either through funding agreements or through its rolling grants programme. Whilst it is recognised that there are a large number of other organisations delivering cultural experiences throughout the county, the information provided about the funded organisations provides further insight into local engagement with arts and heritage where this data is available from Wiltshire Council.
Amesbury Community Area
Amesbury carnival continues to be a successful local event. Several other popular town and village events are held throughout the year. A public art programme is taking place in the area by Bloor Homes. The Celebrating Age project aimed at reaching frail, isolated and vulnerable older people who are unable to access concert halls or theatres has seen arts and heritage events being delivered in various community settings
Bradford on Avon Community Area
The area has a very active community and a plethora of events, societies and volunteers involved in all manner of activities. This includes an annual programme of festivals including arts, fringe, walking, cycling festivals and other regular events.
Wiltshire Music Centre is the only dedicated music venue in the county and recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. It has a 300-seat concert hall, promoting top quality live music and has hosted over 170 concerts and events in 2018/19 across the classical, folk, jazz and world music genres. Wiltshire Music Centre runs a diverse and inclusive education and community programme aimed at children, young people and vulnerable adults. These include workshops, lectures, masterclasses, youth orchestras and projects for isolated older people. Overall every year over 26,700 tickets are sold and the Centre plays a role in the wellbeing of more than 65,000 people. Wiltshire Music Centre relies on a network of over 120 volunteers from the local community who provide over 5,700 hours of work every year.
Calne Community Area
Visitors are encouraged to visit the historic town of Calne and sits within the London to Bristol Great West Way. The town has a vast range of events taking place during the year. The Celebrating Age project aimed at reaching frail, isolated and vulnerable older people who are unable to access concert halls or theatres has seen arts and heritage events being delivered in various community settings
Chippenham Community Area
Local people have come together to promote a whole host of existing arts and cultural activity and events run by a number of different organisations; from folk festivals, museum and heritage projects, exhibitions, performances, culture cafes, art and drama classes and societies to art trails. New arts and cultural programmes are encouraged by the Chippenham Arts Team with a fringe festival on the horizon.
Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Chippenham, funded partnership by Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council, provides the archaeology, archives, arts, conservation, local studies, and museums advisory services for Wiltshire Council under one roof. The centre also houses the Wiltshire Buildings Record, a charitable trust which collates information on historic buildings. The Centre includes a ‘state of the art’ archive repository, containing over 8 miles of historic archives dating back over 800 years, as well as the county local studies collection of printed books, maps, pamphlets and photographs. The Centre is open to the public five days a week and last year engaged with around 28,000 visitors and was supported by 10,000 volunteer hours provided by over 100 volunteers. The Centre carries out a range of community engagement and learning activities and works closely with local schools and colleges. Over the last five years major Heritage Lottery funded projects have included: Know Your Place West of England; Arctic Convoy stories; Wiltshire Remembers the Windrush Generation; Wiltshire at War; Armistice Stories and Creative Wiltshire; the latter three being carried out in partnership with Wiltshire museums and libraries.
Corsham Community Area
Corsham has a thriving arts scene including a significant fine art collection at the historic Corsham Court, a flourishing community arts scene involving many local people in a range of art forms, the Peacock Arts Trail and Pound Arts. Corsham Town Council has a Creative Corsham Strategy and a few public art initiatives are planned. The Celebrating Age project aimed at reaching frail, isolated and vulnerable older people who are unable to access concert halls or theatres has seen arts and heritage events being delivered in various community settings.
The Pound Arts Centre works across the region delivering an arts centre programme, festivals, rural touring and creative learning projects. The Pound Arts Centre is an arts venue and community hub in Corsham offering rehearsal and workshop spaces, a 100-seat auditorium, a gallery space and café bar. Three seasons of performances, film, participatory arts events and exhibitions are promoted at The Pound every year. Three studio spaces and a community workshop house three resident emerging visual artists. The Pound generated over 125,000 visitors including audience members and people taking part in arts activity in 2018/19. It relies on over 300 volunteers who provide approximately 10,000 hours of work every year. Corsham Festivals is the festival strand of Pound Arts and comprises two four-day festivals; The Blue Sky Festival in June for families and Magic and Mayhem in November featuring cabaret, magic, burlesque and vintage arts. These festivals aim to generate tourism within the area and provide opportunities to celebrate the quality of life and unique personality of Corsham. Pound Arts also works in partnership with volunteer promoters in up to 60 villages to stage around 50 professional performances every year through the rural arts touring scheme.
Devizes Community Area
In addition, there is a significant local arts and cultural offer which includes the International Street Festival, Christmas Lantern Parade, Devizes Food Festival, Devizes Eistedfodd and Devizes Arts Festival to name but a few.
Wiltshire Museum is run by the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society. Last year over 20,000 people were welcomed to the Museum or took park in outreach activities. It publishes the County Archaeological Journal and the Archaeology Field Group carries out fieldwork, surveying and excavation. Displays tell the story of Wiltshire, including finds from the Stonehenge and Avebury World heritage Site and the gold finds from the Bronze Age burials in the Stonehenge landscape, the story of Saxon Wiltshire and the Story of Devizes. The Museum manages Designated Collections of national importance, including large archaeological collections, art, social, agricultural and industrial history and natural science collections. There is also an important library and archive, particularly focussed on the archaeology of the County and the history of Devizes. There is also a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions and last year the Museum organised 33 activities aimed at young people and 32 lectures. There is a team of over 130 volunteers, who worked just under 8,000 hours last year to carry out a wide range of duties, including welcoming visitors to the Museum, running events, leading walks, giving talks and carrying out research projects. The Museum is currently investigating the possibility of moving to the Devizes Assize Court Building.
Malmesbury Community Area
Area Board funding has supported local drama workshops, support to the local museum, and improvements to village hall facilities to ensure rural areas can continue to provide safe spaces for the community to come together. There are a wide range of arts and cultural activity and organisations including Malmesbury Community Radio, Malmesbury Carnival and is the home of The Last Baguette Theatre Company.
Marlborough Community Area
The Marlborough area has an annual open studios and art trail.
Melksham Community Area
The local history group, Melksham Remembers, has published a new book documenting the history of the town during World War One. Working closely with the town and parish councils, several public art projects are planned for number of housing development sites including George Ward, Pathfinder Place, Land North of Sandridge Common, Land East of Semington Road, East Melksham and Melksham Campus. Melksham Town Council recently opened a Splashpad in King George V playing field which has been popular with the local community.
Pewsey Community Area
The Vale of Pewsey being in the heart of the London to Bristol Great West Way attracts visitors from far afield.
Royal Wootton Bassett and Cricklade Community Area
The Ridgeway public art project in Purton is underway with creative engagement opportunities for residents taking place and the final artworks expected to be in place later in 2020. The Celebrating Age project aimed at reaching frail, isolated and vulnerable older people who are unable to access concert halls or theatres has seen arts and heritage events being delivered in various community settings
Salisbury Community Area
Salisbury has a vibrant arts and cultural scene with well supported theatres, arts centres, artist studios, galleries, craft fairs, exhibition spaces, festivals as well as a significant number of amateur groups and societies such as choirs, art societies. 2020 sees several events that celebrate the 800th anniversary of Salisbury Cathedral. The Celebrating Age project aimed at reaching frail, isolated and vulnerable older people who are unable to access concert halls or theatres has seen arts and heritage events being delivered in various community settings. A cultural strategy has been developed for Salisbury which will maximise the benefits of events and initiatives through improved joint working. Arts and culture are playing a significant role in the regeneration of Salisbury City Centre.
City Hall is Wiltshire Council’s multipurpose venue that promotes a year round programme of public ticketed shows and entertainment as well as offering room bookings to customers both internal and external to the council. In 2018/19, 83 live performances were presented which attracted an audience of almost 44,000 people. The provision of entertainment and other services at City Hall is unique within Wiltshire Council and is of regional significance as it hosts a wide range of historic, cultural and community activities that attract a diverse customer base.
Wiltshire Creative was formed in February 2018 following the merger of Salisbury Playhouse (with a 517-seat auditorium and 149-seat Salberg studio), Salisbury Arts Centre and the annual Salisbury International Arts Festival. Salisbury Playhouse is the only producing theatre in Wiltshire and has a track record of presenting a mix of high quality in-house productions and visiting work from touring companies. Salisbury Arts Centre hosts a mixed programme of performing and visual arts. The venues attracted an audience of more than 117,000 in 2018/19. Following a year off in 2018 while the merger was completed, Salisbury International Arts Festival returned to a wide range of venues and spaces in 2019 with a programme of high calibre music, theatre, dance, spoken word, literature and visual art from across the world. Wiltshire Creative nurtures talent and runs an active participation and outreach programme that engages with thousands of people of all ages throughout the year through a wide range of creative learning, schools, community and youth activities. This Take Part programme reaches over 25,000 people a year. In 2018/19 Wiltshire Creative presented 557 live performances with over 170 volunteers providing more than 9,000 hours of work. Wiltshire Creative has also worked in partnership with Arts Council England and Wiltshire Council to develop a Cultural Strategy for Salisbury.
Based in the King's House, a medieval building in Salisbury’s Cathedral Close, last year Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum attracted 37,000 visitors. Galleries tell the story of Salisbury and South Wiltshire. The oldest gold objects ever found in Britain are displayed in the new Wessex Gallery and their Designated Collection includes internationally important finds from Stonehenge. A programme of temporary exhibitions explore objects, art, culture and lives. The Museum works with primary and secondary schools to run educational sessions and after school activities. Outreach activities are also undertaken in community locations, with 95 activities aimed at young people, along with 23 lectures. The events programme for families included the Festival of Archaeology, school holiday discovery days, under-fives-Fridays and a young curators club. The Museum is managed as a charity and has a team of over 200 volunteers who contributed nearly 18,000 hours last year. They undertake tasks including stewarding exhibitions, working front of house, supporting events and cataloguing collections. In 2019 the Museum was awarded £429,400 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to develop a the ‘Salisbury Museum for Future Generations’ project and apply for a full grant of £3.2M in 2021.
South West Wiltshire Community Area
Between the 38 villages, there is a wide range of art and cultural events which take place each year from history or literary festivals to regular village hall moviolas, lectures, workshops and exhibitions. The area is proud to boast Wilton House and Stourhead which each provide an international draw by their art and cultural offer. In 2019, the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty secured funding for a 5-year programme of events which will include a range of arts and cultural activities. The area boasts many floral events and choral occasions. In 2019, the Area Board allocated funds so that it could benefit from the Silver Salisbury programme of events which includes a range of arts and cultural activities. There is also the Nadder Valley Arts organisation which runs programmes of activities for all ages. In 2019, the Nadder Centre proudly unveiled its new piece of public art “Silent Rhythm”, a sculpture by local artist Tim Harrisson. Using this as inspiration, a community arts engagement project is now being planned.
Southern Wiltshire Community Area
This community area boasts a range of floral shows, arts and music workshops, lectures and monthly cultural activities. The area board has funded for the last 2 years regular arts sessions for young people in the Winterslow, Old Sarum and Whiteparish youth groups, and a Music for Wellbeing series of sessions for older people. In 2019, the Southern Wiltshire Area allocated funds so that it could benefit from the Silver Salisbury programme of events which includes a range of arts and cultural activities. Thanks to developer contributions from the Riverdown housing development, several creative community engagement events and the installation of permanent artworks in the nearby Country Park took place in 2018.
Tidworth Community Area
Wiltshire Creative are working with the community to develop cultural activities in Tidworth.
Trowbridge Community Area
Trowbridge has a wide range of arts and cultural opportunities held in various venues and spaces across the area. The Celebrating Age project aimed at reaching frail, isolated and vulnerable older people who are unable to access concert halls or theatres has seen arts and heritage events being delivered in various community settings.
Trowbridge Museum, run by Trowbridge Town Council, is currently closed to the public as part of its multi million pound expansion project ‘Onwards and Upwards’. Nearly £1.2m of grant funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has been received towards the £2.4m project, which will double the size of the Museum, re-develop the displays, build a new learning space, increase accessibility and enhance the temporary exhibition gallery. The Museum will re-open in 2020.
Trowbridge Town Hall Trust hosted in the region of 30 small scale professional theatre, dance and live screenings in 2018/9. The Town Hall arts programme also includes contemporary art exhibitions, a programme of creative participatory opportunities and is a hub for visual artists with 8 studio artists and hosting a monthly artists’ café. In 2018/19, over 8,000 people engaged with the Town Hall Arts programme. It has the support of around 40 volunteers who help to run and clean the building and work as ushers and bar staff at performance events. The Town Hall also houses a free-range cafe and deli, a zero-waste shop, and an art and book shop. The Town Hall Trust is transforming its historic court room into a dedicated live music space. The activities offered are part of a developing arts and community venue in central Trowbridge.
Warminster Community Area
Warminster Athenaeum provides a space for local drama and art clubs and the local cultural offer includes a popular film club, the Wylye Valley Arts Trail and Warminster Community Radio.
Westbury Community Area
Westbury Music and Arts Festival is a popular annual arts festival with a wide range of events and activities for the whole community.