# Top topics

culture outdoors green spaces
Community News

Culture Chelmsford publishes first district-wide Cultural Strategy for Chelmsford

Number 11, The Meadows
Photograph by Freya Lees.

The independent charity, Culture Chelmsford, has this week published Chelmsford’s first ever district-wide Cultural Strategy.

What is Culture Chelmsford?

Culture Chelmsford is an independent charity, established in 2017. The organisation believes in the power of creativity to change lives, transform our city and improve our wellbeing. Since 2017, the charity has worked with arts organisations, schools, theatres, and Chelmsford’s creatives to turn ideas into real projects.

The charity is led by a board of volunteer trustees who set the strategic vision for the organisation. Their current members have leadership roles in some of the UK’s foremost museums, galleries, heritage sites, and charities. Some also have specialist expertise in finance, business and HR.

Strategy to be supported by partners across the district

The first district-wide Cultural Strategy outlines an ambitious vision for the next ten years. It has been created with input from key stakeholders and communities across Chelmsford and will be delivered in partnership with a host of like-minded organisations.

The strategy’s vision is that Chelmsford is celebrated as a culturally ambitious place that connects our heritage of science and engineering with a vibrant future of wellbeing, environment and creativity, transforming our peoples’ lives. An inspiring programme of outstanding festivals and events, nurturing the district’s natural and built environment and improving our health and wellbeing, will connect Chelmsford to the county, the UK and the world.

Partnerships are key to realising this vision and ensuring the strategy’s success. Many organisations across the district have already made a commitment to this vision. These include Chelmsford City Council, Anglia Ruskin University, Dominus Real Estate, Chelmsford CVS, Writtle University College, Notting Hill Genesis and Chelmsford For You.

These, and other partners, will help drive the strategy, giving it strength and making it a reality for the whole of Chelmsford. Collaboratively, they will help tell the district’s stories to the world, showcasing its rich heritage and innovative future.

Claire Gevaux, CEO of Culture Chelmsford, says Chelmsford’s first district-wide Cultural Strategy will bring people together to transform the city through a shared vision:

“Chelmsford has a rich cultural and innovative heritage, and this new cultural strategy builds on that legacy, growing and nurturing the cultural aspirations of the district. Over the coming months and years, we will come together celebrating and sharing our stories for the world to hear. We hope everyone in Chelmsford will play a part in writing this next chapter of our journey.”

Claire Gevaux, CEO, Culture Chelmsford

Councillor Marie Goldman, Deputy Leader of Chelmsford City Council and Cabinet Member for Connected Chelmsford, says these partnerships being formed now are crucial to the success of the strategy:

“This new district-wide Cultural Strategy will put into action our long-term ambitions for Chelmsford’s future and will demonstrate that culture really can transform and improve people’s lives. It sets Chelmsford’s direction as an innovative, collaborative place that celebrates culture and gives voices to all communities.

The partnerships now being formed will be key to realising these ambitions and I’m delighted to see so many organisations across Chelmsford have already committed to the strategy.”

Cllr Marie Goldman, Deputy Leader, Chelmsford City Council and Cabinet Member for Connected Chelmsford

Direction led by our communities

Over the last few years, consultations and workshops have taken place across Chelmsford with residents, creative practitioners, and key stakeholders. These include community organisations, businesses, health providers, schools, colleges and universities, and Ignite Chelmsford’s network of creative practitioners and business. The sessions focused on finding out what residents and workers want to see in the next ten years.

These consultations have shaped the strategy, ensuring it represents all the people of Chelmsford. Voices of our communities have influenced the vision, themes, and principles, whether you live or work in the parishes, the town of South Woodham Ferrers or the city centre.

Key themes of the Cultural Strategy

Three key themes were identified, which form the core of the strategy. These are Nurture our Environment: Built and Natural; Improve Health and Wellbeing; and Outstanding Festivals and Events. The themes represent strengths and opportunities for Chelmsford which will make the vision a reality over the next ten years.

Nurture our Environment: Built and Natural aims to develop Chelmsford’s buildings, green spaces, and waterways. It will put them at the heart of a dynamic cultural scene showcasing and nurturing our creative practitioners. The district’s beautiful green spaces and waterways – a key part of its identity – will be utilised to offer relevant and connected cultural programming across the entire district for residents and tourists.

A canal in Little Baddow, Chelmsford.
A canal in Little Baddow, Chelmsford. Photograph by Rodger Tamblyn.

Improve Health and Wellbeing will look to enhance the mental and physical health and wellbeing of the people of Chelmsford through cultural and creative experiences. It will increase the role of culture in supporting our diverse communities as we all continue to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and now cope with other pressures such as the cost-of-living crisis.

Outstanding Festivals and Events will build on our rich and existing programme of festivals and events. It will provide a coherent and inspiring programme of exceptional moments of celebration for all ages and cultural interests. Whether performances by internationally recognised artists or home-grown talent, our festivals and events will develop skills for young people. They will appeal to diverse communities and broaden our reach locally, nationally, and internationally.

3foot People Festival at Hylands Estate 2019
3foot People Festival at Hylands Estate 2019. Trebor Photography.

Principles will influence future activities

Weaving through the themes are seven principles which will influence the design and delivery of all activities.

Among these principles are equity, diversity, and inclusion, which will ensure that opportunities and activities arising from the strategy are respectful, fair, and welcoming to everyone. Strength-based mindsets will encourage an approach that builds on what is good in Chelmsford rather than simply plugging gaps.

Other themes include innovation, transdisciplinary work, and collaboration and knowledge sharing. These are relevant to our rich history of coming together to transform our city through innovations such as the birth of radio. Young people will be vital in the co-design and co-delivery involved in bringing the strategy to life. Sustainability will also be crucial in ensuring connections with landscaped and wild spaces, as well as reaching our net-zero targets.

Student debate at Number 11, The Meadows
Students lead a debate on culture in Chelmsford at Number 11, The Meadows. Photograph by Freya Lees.

Strategy launched at ‘Number 11, The Meadows’

The strategy was launched at a ‘Number 11, The Meadows’ event in The Meadows Shopping Centre on 14 March.

Formerly an empty shop unit, Number 11, The Meadows has been transformed by Culture Chelmsford in collaboration with Dominus Real Estate, Chelmsford City Council and Chelmsford CVS into a pop-up ‘living room’ for Chelmsford. Between 13 March and 27 May, the space will be open for the people of Chelmsford to enjoy free activities, seek advice and support, or just have a cup of tea and a chat. Culture Chelmsford is also currently seeking artists through an open call for performances in the pop-up space.

Number 11, The Meadows is just one example of what can be achieved when organisations across the city come together to focus on a shared cultural ambition and giving a chance for everyone in Chelmsford to make it their own.

Number 11, The Meadows
Number 11, The Meadows.

What are the next steps in this ten-year strategy? 

The launch of the Cultural Strategy begins a long-term goal to realise Chelmsford’s cultural ambitions over the next decade. In the coming months, Culture Chelmsford will work with community groups and stakeholders to bring the strategy to life. Through co-created programmes they will tell the intimate stories of Chelmsford’s people creating epic moments for the world to see.

The #ourculturaljourney campaign will continue to encourage Chelmsford’s people to talk about culture and tell their creative stories. Please continue to share your memories using the hashtag #ourculturaljourney and tag Culture Chelmsford in your posts.

A key part of the strategy will involve Culture Chelmsford and partners working with schools to offer opportunities for young people’s voices to be heard and their talents to be showcased. As part of this, an education pack will be sent to every school in the district, helping them to engage young people to create their own responses to the #ourculturaljourney campaign.

A young performer from Hot Box Live
A young performer from Hot Box Live. Photograph by Freya Lees.

You can read the full Cultural Strategy for Chelmsford. Follow Culture Chelmsford on FacebookTwitterInstagram and TikTok for more information. Sign up to the mailing list to receive up-to-date information and be part of #ourculturaljourney.


“We are delighted to be working alongside partners to celebrate the best of Chelmsford. Our students and staff all have a part to play in the future of the city, and we’re delighted to see ARU’s values of inclusion and innovation as central parts of the Cultural Strategy.”

James Rolfe, COO, Anglia Ruskin University

“Cultural Strategies are so important in defining the future of cities and we’re thrilled to see this start to take shape in Chelmsford. We’d be delighted to leverage our assets to support the growth of the city’s cultural scene and are excited to play our part in what will unfold over the next ten years.”

Jay Ahluwalia, Partner, Dominus Real Estate

“We know that voluntary arts play a huge part in helping people to live active and productive lives and that many local charities and community groups will wish to be a part of the new Cultural Strategy. There are exciting times ahead and getting involved in the campaign will be a golden opportunity for us all to embrace a collective vision to guide us through the next decade.”

Lorraine Jarvis, Chelmsford CVS
facebook twitter mail linkedin
Cherelle Nightingill
Cherelle Nightingill

Cherelle writes about Chelmsford Theatre, Hylands Estate, Chelmsford Museum, the Mayor of Chelmsford and culture and events in the city.