Portsmouth conference set to boost opportunities for investment in culture and creatives

Portsmouth is to host a conference later this month aimed at boosting investment in the city and wider region’s creative and cultural sectors. The all-day event entitled “We Connect,“ will be held on Monday May 22 at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.


Organised by Portsmouth Creates, an independent organisation dedicated to supporting collective growth of the creative and cultural sectors, it has three main aims:   supporting to build the capacity of organisations and individuals; championing the need for greater investment across the city and identifying opportunities for sector growth.

In the morning session, delegates will hear from a number of speakers about how to access investment through bid funding from national funders such as Arts Council England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Film Hub South West / British Film Institute and Historic England. This will be followed by afternoon workshop sessions which will help to give people the tools to developing successful, competitive and ambitious funding applications.

Tim Rusby, Chair of Portsmouth Creates said: “Our aim is to pull everyone together from the city and wider region, advocating and championing the growth of our creative and cultural economy.   We’ll do this by providing individuals and organisations with the tools to develop forward thinking and ambitious bids. The most exciting prospect for delegates is that they’ll hear first-hand from key funders on how to turn their creative ambitions into reality.”

He added: “I’d also like to take this opportunity to announce the appointment of Portsmouth Creates new CEO – Gemma Nichols. Gemma brings with her a wealth of experience in the sector having formerly been a part of the senior leadership team as Commercial and Marketing Director of the bid which saw Southampton reach the finals of the UK City of Culture 2025 competition. In addition to this she was previously part of the team at Culture Liverpool, who delivered the cultural ambitions for the city post their tenure of European Capital of Culture in 2008, as well as their major events programme.  We are delighted to have her on board”.

Portsmouth Creates has been running a series of smaller We Connect events on a bi-monthly basis to identify the needs of the city’s creative and cultural community. Through these events the organisation has been able to support city-based challenges such as business and marketing support, with an ongoing view for these to remain consultative supporting their ambitions to our sector growth.

Portsmouth Creates newly appointed CEO, Gemma Nichols, added: “As an Arts Council England Priority Place, we understand the importance of supporting our sector to drive investment and growth. Our role as creative advocates for the city is key to moving Portsmouth forward and putting us on the map. We hope that this flagship We Connect event, amongst our other delivery areas, will become an annual opportunity to bring together our creative community, building and focusing on the growth and wider economic impact of our city.”

Phil Gibby, South West Area Director for Arts Council England (ACE), will be speaking to the subject “Portsmouth: opportunity/need.” He said: “Funding from major institutions is often crucial in helping local and regional initiatives get off to ground and thrive. Everyone is always looking to make stronger applications, and we want to receive them. This conference will be invaluable in giving delegates an insight into the Arts Council, the development agency for culture and creativity.”

Councillor Steve Pitt, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: “We are thrilled that Portsmouth Creates is working in partnership with Arts Council England to facilitate this event which is focussing on the growth and evolution of our creative economy in Portsmouth.

“As the Cabinet member responsible for culture and economic development I am committed to ensuring that our sector thrives and am proud to support this collaborative leadership from Portsmouth Creates.”