I published this on Swange View Blog but thought it might be informative to copy it here as an update on our work. As you see, we have now become Strata and already have a number of interesting projects in the pipeline. Watch this space.
"I feel it might be useful to give a little more detail about Strata. As an Arts professional I have attended meetings about funding the Arts in Dorset for the last fifteen years and I have seen public funding rise in all areas of the County except for Purbeck. The reason is quite simple. In all other districts there are organisations that lead the bidding process for funds. The Bridport Arts Centre and other organisations funnel quite significant streams of money into West Dorset. There are similar organisations in North, East and the towns and conurbations. These are responsible for making use of Lottery, Arts Council and foundation funding to promote theatre, exhibitions, events, arts education in their buildings and into the surrounding areas. There is no such organisation in Purbeck and, consequently, over the years significant sums of money have passed us by. This money is not anything we do not deserve. We have already paid for it by buying our lottery tickets or donating to cultural charities. There is even a fraction of a penny in the general taxation we pay. The last straw as far as I was concerned was the Purbeck District Cultural Strategy which made barely a mention of the arts and the Jurassic Coast Arts Initiative where large sums of money will end up in Charmouth and Lyme Regis (good luck to them) and probably none in Swanage.So in February we started the long process of setting up an organisation to channel our money back to Purbeck. We decided early on that it would be an organisation led by artists and all those interested in developments in the arts. The membership is wide and growing, painters, sculptors, writers, theatre people, dancers, photographers and more. We hope to include anyone in the creative industries, chefs, gallery owners, theatre managers, designers, architects. In June we rolled up a functioning group of visual artists and we have taken their name - Strata - and thus it was that we had our first event - an exhibition at Durlston castle for Dorset Art Weeks. Plans are already afoot for some fascinating events next year. Meanwhile we are on the point of completing the necessary instrument to become a charitable company. And the real work can begin. As soon as we have the company in place we will have a public launch to which we can invite the great and the good and the general public. We hope that our website with a database of functioning Purbeck artists will be on line in the very near future.If you are an artist of any sort or are interested in the future of the arts come along to our meetings (First Wednesday every month at Quarr Gallery, High Street, Swanage at 7.30pm and other social occasions) or contact us via Quarr Gallery."