Is Exeter at the heart of a Westcountry cultural renaissance? Belinda Dillon looks at how the city’s profile is on the rise.
A Russell Group university consistently rated in the top 1% internationally, a Premiership Rugby team whose ground will host Rugby World Cup 2015 matches, an economy in the top 2% for employment growth, lively festivals, award-winning cultural institutions, stunning countryside and a beautiful coastline.
None of these highlights will come as a surprise to Exonians – that’s why we live here. But thanks to some creative thinking and an eye on the bigger picture, assisted by a council that recognises the positive impact of art and heritage on wellbeing, tourism and inward investment, the city’s profile is on the rise.
It's very easy to overlook the rather smaller facets of "Culture" in our City mistaking the attention grabbing headline venues for the places that see a constant production of (often heavily) subsidised arts events, dependent on a fairly large and diverse staff to draw attention to them. I'd suggest that The Double Elephant Print Workshop, events at the Globe and the Alphington Players bring as much diversity as many other groups, but often reap few benefits from their efforts because they lie outside the mainstream of visibility. The dynamism of Exeter lies as much "outside" the publicly visible, as within it. I'd also cite "The Cavern Club" as being an example of something that hits above its weight and yet is easily overlooked. Sure I'm glad that Rugby World Cup 2015 is coming to Exeter, and I appreciate all that RAMM does (at a cost), but I think we ignore our "fringe" events at our peril.