Something really exciting is happening in Worthing; the Active People Survey 2008-2010 outlined Worthing’s Local Level arts engagement at 46.61%, a new report which replaces this, the Active Lives Survey 2015-2017 rates Worthing’s level of arts engagement at 73.22%. It would be impossible to review these statistics without sighting the growing impact and success of the cultural offer within Worthing, namely Worthing Theatres and Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, both currently run by the Worthing Borough Council’s Culture Department.
The dynamic diversity of the programme, the team’s courage to take risks and a determined focus on quality across the venues has resulted in financial success, ensuring commercial stability and a sustainable future for the venues.
With rising incomes, greater footfall figures and profits on the majority of shows; both organisations had a joint underspend of £32K against their council budget.
Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, saw increased footfall with 55,000 visitors this (financial) year. With over 14 exhibitions including the incredibly successful costume trail, a total of 32 Talks both on site and throughout Sussex, 40 family workshops and 12 adult workshops delivered this year. WMA secured notable partnerships with key industry leaders; working with the British Museum on delivering a touring exhibition, Dress to Impress: Netsuke and Japanese Men’s Fashion. WMA also borrowed a Chanel dress from the V&A national collection to display as part of the Costume Trail running since August 2016.
Additionally, Worthing Theatres have become the key contemporary circus venue on the south coast. Launching the Summer of Circus festival in 2016, Worthing Theatres embraced increasing local interest in the genre, inspired by sold out productions. Summer of Circus returned to Worthing for its third year on June 18, and now contemporary circus is central to the town’s appeal and developing cultural identity.
Amanda O’Reilly, Head of Culture reflected on the recent successes stating “We will continue to be courageous with our programming and curation, take our team, audiences and art lovers on a journey, transforming our cultural landscape by being bold and above all loving what we do.”