LOCAL artists and businesses have been invited to a meeting for a new cultural network by Winchester City Council.

On Monday, September 15, at 6.30pm, the Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Eileen Berry will open her official residence at Abbey House to explain the scheme.

It forms part of recommendations from the council’s cultural strategy, approved earlier this year, when the Culture, Innovation and the Creative Economy event was held.

The network will also provide opportunities for joint funding bids and lobbying and meetings will take place once every two months, organised by a different cultural organisation from within the district.

Theatre Royal Winchester, Umbrella, University of Winchester and Southampton University’s Winchester School of Art are among those who will be hosting future meetings.

The theme for the first meeting is creative workspace and will also be a send-off for the council’s former arts advisor, arts and heritage consultant Stephen Boyce, who is relocating to Dorset.

Mr Boyce has been commissioned by the council for nearly three years to work with arts businesses and organisations and help them with grant applications, business development and capacity-building.

He said: “Working with Winchester’s artists, theatre-makers, dancers, writers, musicians and others has been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding assignments I’ve had. This pool of richly creative and enterprising talent is of extraordinary value to the city and district, and it has been a privilege to help build the conditions in which, hopefully, Winchester’s arts community can flourish. Thank you to everyone who has let me into their creative world.”

Leader of Winchester City Council and Portfolio Holder for Arts and Culture, Cllr Rob Humby, said: “Stephen has been very popular with our artistic community, who have even referred to him as ‘Magic Stephen’ at times. He has helped many practitioners to develop more sustainable business models, contributing to a strong and dynamic creative economy for the Winchester District.”