Dover Named Priority Place in the South East by Arts Council England

Today, Arts Council England has announced that Dover will be a priority place to focus on as part of the publication of its three year Delivery Plan for 2021-2024. 

Arts Council England’s three-year Delivery Plan sets out a detailed roadmap to implement the vision of their strategy Let's Create: by 2030 England will be a country in which the creativity of each individual is valued and given the chance to flourish, and where everyone has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. The Delivery Plan highlights where there are opportunities for investment, collaboration, and progress. 

The publication of the Delivery Plan follows the Government’s unprecedented £1.96 billion Culture Recovery Fund, administered by the Arts Council and other bodies. Driven by the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, with the backing of Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the Culture Recovery Fund is the biggest one-off investment in culture from the Government in history, providing a vital lifeline to save our cultural sector and help organisations prepare for reopening. 

Let’s Create was written just before the pandemic, but the vision still holds true and if anything is even more critical now. Creativity and culture can, and should, play a part in helping level up the country. 

To help make this vision a reality the Delivery Plan names 54 priority places across England. The Arts Council will work closely with these locations to develop new opportunities for investment, both from the Arts Council and other partners. Across the South East, from Medway to Slough, and Dover to Crawley, priority places recognises the need for cultural investment, and it will give more people the opportunity to enjoy excellent cultural experiences in their communities and neighbourhoods. 

Dover has been recognised as a priority place due to its cultural and creative potential. There is scope and ambition in partnership with the local authorities for more of the local community to experience the benefits of engaging with creativity. In addition, as a popular tourist destination, the coastal area presents opportunities for culture and creativity to become an important part of its visitor offer. 

A small number of organisations have been in receipt of National Lottery Project Grants to deliver strategic interventions across multiple artforms and this has helped create impetus across the cultural community in Dover. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Dover has received £737,250 investment from the Arts Council through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. On the back of this investment, being a priority place will boost the growth of local opportunities for arts and culture through partnership and collaboration.

These places have been chosen through a set of criteria based on a review of current public investment and opportunities to engage with creative and cultural activity. Each of the priority places are ambitious to drive positive change through culture. 

In the last decade, the Arts Council has significantly shifted its investment outside of London. The aim in Let’s Create is to increase focus on specific places underserved in the past. Priority places are just one of the ways in which the Arts Council are committed to levelling up by strengthening cultural and creativity opportunities in a targeted way. Investment will increase in a range of other locations through Arts Council’s own programmes such as Creative People & Places (budget for 2021-22 £23 million), the new Place Partnership fund (budget for 2021-22 £7 million), and the Government funding streams that Arts Council support: UK City of Culture (the City of Coventry has received nearly £21 million for 2021), and the Stronger Towns Fund (£1.6 billion fund from 2019 to 2026).

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, says

“Artists, arts organisations, museums and libraries have found creative new ways to serve their audiences and communities since the start of the pandemic. Our new Delivery Plan shows how we’ll work with them to build on that spirit of imagination and innovation as our society reopens. It’s particularly exciting to be focusing on our 54 priority places over the coming years, as part of the Arts Council’s commitment to play its part in delivering on the government’s programme of levelling up. We’re looking forward to nurturing dynamic new partnerships with local people and organisations in each of these locations.”

Hazel Edwards, South East Area Director, Arts Council England, said:

“Our priority places approach provides a vital recognition that there are places across the country with huge ambition to embrace everything that culture can offer, but need more than just funding to make that happen. Through working strategically with local partners, we can bring them together and support them as they develop the local cultural infrastructure, which will in turn create vital opportunities for both artists and local communities. This work takes time and by establishing Dover as a priority place, we’re committing our time and expertise to work hand-in-hand with them as they develop their cultural offering and identity.”

Roger Walton, Strategic Director (Operations and Commercial) at Dover District Council said:

“We are very pleased that Dover has been recognised as a priority place, and that our cultural, creative and tourism potential and ambition has been acknowledged in this way. This is an important recognition of our cultural ambitions for the future, and is great news for Dover and for all our local communities, and we look forward to working with the Arts Council building on the strong base of arts and cultural activities across our district. This comes as a range of exciting opportunities are starting to take shape, including proposals for a new creative centre in Dover and for the refurbishment of Dover’s Maison Dieu as a major cultural venue in the town.”

Natalie Elphicke, Member of Parliament for Dover & Deal, said:

“It is a welcome recognition for our rich historic heritage and active arts community that special status is being given to Dover, Deal and our district. I have been working hard with the Arts Council and Culture Ministers to ensure that our arts and heritage sectors are supported during the pandemic. This welcome announcement will help boost jobs and opportunities still further.”

Download the list of priority places, including methodology, here (please note that hyperlinks in the plan will be live on the Arts Council website at 10am on Thursday 16 September 2021).

Download the Delivery Plan here(please note that the plan itself and the hyperlinks in the plan will be live on the Arts Council website at 10am on Thursday 16 September 2021).

Notes to editors

Please note that the links below will be live at 10am on Thursday 16 September.

Find out more about the 54 priority places online at Arts Council England.

Read more on the Delivery Plan in full online at Arts Council England.

Arts Council England total investment £ in London Vs Outside of London:

Budget year

 Outside London


 Grand Total


 £    441,334,706

 £    327,017,061

 £    768,351,767


 £    368,478,741

 £    244,907,123

 £    613,385,864


 £    389,624,844

 £    301,852,356

 £    691,477,200


 £    404,902,717

 £    234,389,271

 £    639,291,988


 £    532,189,199

 £    248,354,378

 £    780,543,577


 £    398,231,258

 £    203,655,488

 £    601,886,746


 £    418,128,541

 £    235,538,657

 £    653,667,198


 £    447,135,587

 £    243,177,974

 £    690,313,561


 £ 1,051,707,158

 £    513,878,851

 £ 1,565,586,009

Grand Total

 £ 4,451,732,750

 £ 2,552,771,159

 £ 7,004,503,909

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision.

 Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of the bodies administering the Government’s unprecedented £1.96 billion Culture Recovery Funds. Find out more at

Posted on 16/09/2021