Torbay has received an award of £1,191,400 from Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund’s Great Place Scheme that will put art and culture at the heart of the future vision for the area. The grant will help to fund an ambitious project led by Torbay Culture Board that will make Torbay a great place to live, work, play and visit by promoting health and wellbeing, developing civic pride and making the most of the area’s natural beauty and rich heritage.

Paul Woolnough, Chair of Torbay Culture Board, said: “This award is a game changer for Torbay. It will allow us to transform our cultural offer, building on our reputation for innovative, community-driven arts and heritage in unusual spaces. As a Board, we will work with the people of Torbay and all our partners to maximise the impact of culture on people’s lives and on our economy. Together, we will put Torbay back on the map as a great cultural centre.”

Kate Farmery, Executive Director of the Board, added: “We’re convinced of culture’s potential to make more of a difference. We will build on existing good practice and partnerships to fully realise the power of arts and heritage to transform Torbay’s communities.”

Torbay has a stunning natural backdrop and wealth of heritage assets. This project aims to increase pride in the local area by reconnecting Torbay’s communities to the coast and the area’s history. This will be done by creating cultural activities in unexpected places and making more of currently underexploited heritage sites, such as Torre Abbey and Paignton Picture House.

Community consultation will inform all programme activities to make sure development is done with, and not to, Torbay and there will be new approaches to regeneration with a focus on the three towns – Paignton, Brixham and Torquay.

Health and wellbeing are a key element of the aspirations and work will be carried out with health partners to make changes to the way services are delivered. Activities will include specialist choirs for respiratory patients, dance classes to support mobility and arts programmes to promote mental health amongst young and isolated older people.

The project will see Torbay Culture Board working with a range of partners including the English Riviera BID Company, Torbay Arts and Culture Network, Torbay Council and Torbay Community Development Trust, alongside arts, health and cultural organisations. The Board will be running a number of briefing sessions on the project in April (sign up via

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: “This is a brilliant result for Torbay’s cultural, community and civic organisations. It is well-deserved recognition for their determination to transform their individual offers into a powerful shared voice that will help make a step change in how they work together in order that arts, culture and heritage contribute more to meeting local, social and economic objectives.”