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Culture in Common

A £1million project has launched across the New Forest, enabling communities to connect through arts, culture, and heritage – and you can help shape it.

In December 2021, Arts Council England announced funding for 11 brand new Creative People and Places programmes. Culture in Common is the new project for the New Forest, with an investment of £1m covering three years.

The funding was secured by a consortium of five local organisations: Energise MeFolioNew Forest District Council, The Handy Trust and New Forest National Park Authority.

The programme’s name is inspired by the ancient tradition of commoning, along with the ambition to unite people through a shared vision of arts and culture driven by local people. Culture in Common will begin in Totton and the Waterside in year one and drift through the district, arriving in New Milton and Avon Valley in years two and three respectively.

Sofia Richardson, Manager of The Handy Trust, said: ‘The programme will allow people to come together, develop ideas they’d like to see and have the support to action them to create a long-lasting impact. There are many challenges among our community: elderly struggling with loneliness, young people not having enough to do, and certain areas of isolation. This is a chance for people to improve these issues and enhance their involvement and enjoyment of the arts, their local community and their local environment. They already have some great ideas.’

The first phase of the project is all about getting to know local people and finding out what matters to them through street surveys, national data and insights, ‘social listening’ and getting involved with community meet-ups.  While the project is in discovery mode and the website is being developed, it’s supporting local events and setting up ‘taster sessions’– in Marchwood (Summer Junk Band workshop); in Hythe (Youth Club Halloween celebration); in Totton (Lantern Procession) and across the New Forest (clay workshops and walk as part of the New Forest Walking and Cycling Festival).

You can help the Creative in Common team to connect with and gather voices from the New Forest District Council area community by completing the survey on the website and sharing it.

Find out about future projects on the Culture in Common website nearer the time and join the mailing list to stay up to date.

To invite Culture in Common to speak with your community or request the survey in alternative formats please contact project coordinator Mai Brillet at



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