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This was a fantastic experience for the children at school. Many have not had the opportunity of seeing a live performance before Teacher

Plays in the Playground gives all children the opportunity to experience live theatre. Some of our children may never have that opportunity otherwise Teacher

How important do families in Shepton Mallet feel the arts are?

This survey was conducted with parents from Bowlish Infant School, Shepton Mallet Infant School and St Pauls Junior School. The survey forms part of work carried out as part of Plays in the Playground – a theatre programme in schools funded by Theatre Royal Bath Creative Fund, Wells Festival of Literature and Shepton Mallet Town Council.

In total 74 families completed the survey and the results give strong indications of the preferences of local people and the value they place on arts and creativity in terms of their children’s development and enriching the local community and town at large.

Families responded to the survey on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being unimportant and 10 being very important. When asked ‘How important do you feel being creative is for your child’s education’ 97% of respondents rated it of crucial importance (7 out of 10 or more) – with 61% scoring it the maximum 10 out of 10.

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Families were also asked how important they feel it is to have an arts space, library or theatre in the centre of Shepton Mallet. Again 95% of respondents rated it of critical importance (7 out of 10 or more) – with 52% scoring it the maximum 10 out of 10.

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Louise Lappin-Cook who is responsible for organising Plays in the Playground commented “The survey gives a very strong indication that arts and culture are of fundamental importance to local families – not just in terms of the personal and educational development opportunities they offer to young people in schools and at home, but in terms of how they enrich the town and local environment for everyone. Shepton now has no operational theatre and the possibility of the library moving location means this would be the removal of the last public community space in the centre of Shepton Mallet. This survey clearly highlights the importance local families place on putting cultural provision at the heart of our town.”

An interesting contrast in terms of the survey results was the disparity between how many opportunities people have to participate in cultural activities and how highly they value it. 66% of people had either been to the theatre once or not at all in the past 12 months (24% not at all) and 44% of respondents said they participated in cultural activities once a year or never (37% stating that they never participated in cultural activities). And yet this same demographic is very vocal in championing the importance of arts and culture to overall health, wellbeing and development. Many respondents identified lack of transport, local provision and money as their key reasons for not having full access to cultural activities.

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Louise commented that “These results give a very strong indication of the importance local families place on arts and culture in developing our community and local environment. Given that Shepton Mallet was given a state of the art theatre in the 70s by the Showering family and we are the closet town to the world’s most famous festival of arts and culture – Glastonbury – creativity should be at the very heart of our town”

How important is it to have more creative and cultural opportunities in SM 2

When asked ‘How important are the arts to your life overall” 85% rated the arts as highly significant (7 out of 10 or more). When asked how important is it for Shepton Mallet to have more creative and cultural opportunities 94% felt it was fundamental (7 or more out of 10) with 49% rating it as 10/10 in terms of importance.


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