Buckinghamshire Culture Conference

27 April 2023

A cornerstone of our support of the local arts scene is our investment in Buckinghamshire Culture, a charity developing connection, skills and influence of local cultural partners. It was a pleasure to see this network come together in real life for Buckinghamshire Culture’s first conference held at Missenden Abbey on 23rd March. Exploring “Cultural Capital” and what that means for the residents of the county, we heard from inspiring speakers and took part in practical and interactive breakout sessions.

Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre, who co-directed the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics, reminded us of the importance of an inclusive creative process. Reflecting the views and experience of people of all backgrounds and abilities through the arts, and practically making sure that our venues are truly accessible, is of the utmost importance. It was timely to launch Buckinghamshire Culture’s Access and Inclusion Manifesto, a vision for our county, the birthplace of the Paralympics, to “hold the torch and light the way towards achieving seamless inclusivity for disabled people”.

The manifesto was borne out of Together We Build, a project celebrating 10 years since London 2012 which was led by Buckinghamshire Culture, Discover Bucks Museum, Waddesdon Manor, the National Paralympic Heritage Trust and other local cultural partners. It demonstrates the power of a collective vision and the value of working in partnership to achieve a significant goal. This point was underscored at the conference by Arts Council England’s South East Director, Hazel Edwards. She stressed the importance of working together, reaching out across private and public sectors to create a clear strategic vision for culture in Buckinghamshire.

At the Rothschild Foundation, we have a role to play in building capacity for collaboration and convening cross-sector conversations. We want to help to re-state the case for the arts and help them to play a part in our health, education and economic prosperity. For example, as Buckinghamshire is home to an aging population, the creative and cultural sector is vital to creating social connection, good health and wellbeing that supports living well into our later years.