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Can you help develop Neath Port Talbot’s new local strategy for culture?

Pictured: Neath Abbey

Neath Port Talbot Council is working with arts consultants Counterculture to develop a new local strategy for culture encompassing heritage, sports, tourism and arts.

Whether you’re an art lover, theatre buff, sports fanatic, or none of these, the council is now seeking your views on the strategy so it can help make the cultural offer in Neath Port Talbot better for all.

The closing date for responses to this consultation is midnight on Tuesday 28 February 2023.

Counterculture experts have produced a short report based on initial research and stakeholder engagement on Neath Port Talbot’s heritage and culture assets.

The report says the area:
•    Boasts some of the most outstanding open spaces in the region including parks (Margam, Gnoll), forests and moorlands.
•    Has outstanding buildings, many connected to the area’s pioneering part in the industrial revolution (Brunel’s dock, Margam Castle, Neath Abbey Ironworks, the canal system).
•    Contains organisations such as the council, creative businesses, regional and national partners, educational institutions and other stakeholders keen to see a thriving culture in Neath Port Talbot.
•    Is known for producing outstanding talent in the performing arts and sport with three main theatres and many sports pitches and other community venues providing opportunities to nurture future talent.
•    Is blessed with great natural assets for residents and visitors who can walk the hills, mountain bike in the forests and swim in the sea and is extremely well connected with motorway and main line rail links and nearby Cardiff airport serving more than 30 destinations directly.

One of the themes of the proposed new strategy is headlined ‘Welsh to our bones’. For 1,000 years the people of Neath Port Talbot communicated in Welsh so one of the aims of the strategy will be to bring the beauty and richness of local place names, songs, poetry and more to both Welsh and English speakers through brilliant interpretation and signage and nation-leading use of incidental Welsh.

Counterculture’s research has identified some issues/challenges including there being little dedicated gallery space in the borough, the collections from Cefn Coed and Neath Museum not currently being accredited or on public display, some heritage sites having poor interpretation and wayfinding and while transport to the area is good, transport around it is difficult, especially in rural areas.

However, strengths and opportunities include the fact many significant artists have come from Neath Port Talbot and continue to inspire younger generations, Swansea University’s £450m Bay Campus provides both a great venue for creative endeavours and courses in several relevant specialisms.

Also the successful Levelling Up Fund bid for Gnoll and Pontneddfechan will mean £17.7m of investment in these historic areas and local people understand the importance of arts, culture, sport and heritage for health and wellbeing.

Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Wellbeing, Cllr Jeremy Hurley, said: “This new strategy is in line with the council’s Corporate Plan of which one of the themes is ensuring our environment, heritage and culture can be enjoyed by future generations.

“Neath Port Talbot is a place where people have been creative for centuries and has astonishing natural beauty from coast to mountains.
“The aim is that the Cultural Strategy will capture the unique spirit of Neath Port Talbot, helping us look forward with confidence that our story can appeal to and inspire every local resident and also millions of visitors.”

The council would like as many people as possible to contribute to the new Cultural Strategy.