Hopes high for an arts revival to enrich people's lives

'Vintage' perform at Exmouth Pavilion gardens on 20 June

'Vintage' perform at Exmouth Pavilion gardens - Credit: John Hunt

John Hunt champions Exmouth community arts for this week's education column

The past 16 months have been a tough time for everyone. It has, though, given us an opportunity to reflect on what is important in our lives, including how the visual and performing arts can add meaning and quality to our lives. For artists and performers, it has meant that many activities have been on hold. The restriction on live audiences meant that performances ceased, or have only been online – which is rather a different experience with limitations.

In the Exmouth area, we are looking forward to the gradual resumption of performances. Exmouth has a lively arts scene, but not having a designated arts centre means it is sometimes difficult to find out what’s going on. Here’s a summary:

  • Exmouth Pavilion has drawn up a great programme and there’s a lot going on there with occasional events also at The Ocean.
  • The Savoy Cinema has reopened its doors and now has a weekly schedule of films, and hopefully its live streamed performances will be reintroduced.
  • The Blackmore Theatre will be reopening its doors with performances from the Exmouth Players.
  • Musical performances and gigs are beginning to return, for example in Exmouth Pavilion Gardens, and hopefully before long, in pubs and clubs.
  • The visual arts are active with several artists’ studios and occasional exhibitions, plus a changing display of art at Exmouth’s Infusion Art Café.
  • Exmouth Library acts as a great hub for literature and lots more, and also for occasional events.

It struck me some time ago that there is no one place where this information is drawn together so we can see what’s happening in Exmouth. So, in 2019 I established the Exmouth Community Arts website (www.exmoutharts.co.uk). I then set up an associated Facebook Group (www.facebook.com/groups/exmoutharts) which is a public group open to all, with daily posts and over 300 active members (and growing) who can comment and post things directly. Together the website and Facebook Group offer an online guide to art, music, theatre and comedy, literature, poetry, film and dance in Exmouth. This includes details of organisations involved in the arts and cultural activities in Exmouth, venues, and details of events and other information.

So, looking to the future, what action can we take to participate in and encourage and support Exmouth’s creative performing and visual arts scene? Here are some ideas:

  • Participation: Please support visual and performance artists and musicians by attending events, eg those provided by organisations listed above.
  • The Exmouth Community Arts website. Please take a look at this. Is this helpful? Would you like to see any additional things or suggest any improvements?
  • Exmouth Community Arts Facebook Group. Please take a look at this too. As it is a public group, there is no need to be on Facebook to view it. But better still, why not join this group so that you join in the conversations and post things directly.
  • Organisations in Exmouth. If you are in an organisation which is involved in the arts, please check that it and its contact details are in the list of organisations in that section of the Exmouth Arts website. If any are missing, or if anything needs updating, please let me know.
  • Venues in Exmouth: Likewise, if you run or go to any venues that host performances, please check that they are listed in that section of the website. Again, if there are any gaps, or if anything needs updating, please let me know.
  • Promotion: If you are an artist, musician or performer, is there anything that can be done to help promote and support what you do? Do you have any suggestions?

Let’s look forward to a bright future ahead for Exmouth, especially one where arts-related activities do not just return to pre-lockdown level but expand further and flourish to help enrich the quality of our lives here.

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