MEMBERS of creative and cultural communities gathered for a specialist conference which aimed to celebrate Culture, Innovation and the Winchester Economy.

The conference, attended by some 120 delegates, was organised by Winchester City Council and held at the Middle Brook Centre on Friday (February 28).

The conference was chaired by Cllr Rob Humby, deputy leader of Winchester City Council. In his welcoming speech Cllr Humby said: “I am pleased to announce that a new leadership group is being created to deliver the new strategy – a partnership between Winchester City Council, the University of Southampton’s Winchester School of Art and the University of Winchester.

“The two universities are cultural powerhouses in the district, and I am delighted to have them both represented here today at a senior level, sharing a stage and sharing a commitment to delivering the new strategy in partnership with us.”

A keynote speech was made by Pippa Warin, from the Arts Council England, looking at the national and the regional picture. This was followed by responses to the strategy from local professionals including Mark Courtice, chief executive of Theatre Royal Winchester, and Emily Tyers, director of Etre, whose website Umbrella connects and promotes creative and artistic people living, working and studying in or near Winchester.

Cllr Humby added: “The challenge for us now is harnessing the energy and creativity in the Winchester district to put Winchester on a world stage.”

“For the last three to four weeks the city council has been extremely busy dealing with the floods. The whole team have, at some time or another, been heavily involved. They have done an excellent job for pulling this together. I really do appreciate you all coming along today.”