Arts Council Chair Sir Nicholas Serota visits Culture Matson

Culture Matson - a force for creative change.

Sir Nicholas Serota heralds a new creative chapter for Matson and meets community leaders involved in setting up GL4 and Culture Matson.

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England, visited Matson, Gloucester on Monday 14th May to hear from a range of community leaders who invest in Culture Matson and why they are convinced that art and culture can improve the well-being, aspiration, health, education and employability of people in Matson.  

Sir Nicholas was invited by Create Gloucestershire to find out more about the Matson Model which is uniquely successful in promoting the local economy and well-being in a small targeted neighbourhood. 


Sir Nicholas meets the GL4 team

Matson has a long tradition of residents’ led organisation and co-operation to sustain local initiatives and community assets such as the local library, doctors, chemist and community spaces.  Building on this tradition, GL4, supported by Strike a Light, has recently acted as a catalyst for change, by programming arts and culture events across a range of different venues. 
The visit kicked off with a visit to GL4 and Strike a Light.   Sir Nicholas then met the wide range of community leaders who set up Culture Matson and saw a colourful new mural on the side of Matson Library which was painted by the community with support from Art Shape and the Gloucester Gateway Trust. 


Sir Nicholas outside the new GL4 offices in Matson


Sir Nicholas with the Culture Matson team in Matson Baptist Church


Sir Nicholas enjoying the newly painted mural on Matson library


Sir Nicholas exploring Matson with community leaders

Thoughts on the day

“I was delighted to see how Culture Matson and all the arts activities, led by Naomi and Sarah, have sparked new possibilities and a growing sense of ambition and opportunity for the Matson Estate.  It was a pleasure to meet the inspiring Creative Producers of GL4 and understand how Lottery investment in our National Portfolio Organisations, firstly via Battersea Arts Centre and Create Gloucestershire and more recently Strike a Light Festival, have helped to incubate GL4 and Culture Matson.”
Sir Nicholas Serota Chair of Arts Council England.
“Generosity has driven Culture Matson from Day 1. Support, encouragement and investment have come from a “smorgasbord” of local, county and national partners and the city-wide Gloucester Culture Trust. Community leaders explained to Sir Nicholas Serota how collective effort at a hyper- local level can be a force for creative change and achieve a huge amount with relatively little investment- I think it’s the way forward for any community who genuinely want to tackle deep seated issues of limited opportunity, poverty and housing need”
Pippa Jones, Director of Create Gloucestershire
“GL4 are very passionate about making arts and culture as easily accessible as other activities.  We have seen the positive impact it has had on the people we have engaged with of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. None of this would not be possible without the amazing support we receive from various organisations and the Culture Matson group. The community has shown a thirst for what we offer so as long as it’s what they want, GL4 will continue delivering”.
Sarah O”Donnell & Naomi Draper, Matson Residents and Creative Producers GL4  
“We've seen amazing things happen since we started working with GL4 and the residents of Matson. Nationally touring artists have worked with young people on the estate and GL4 have hosted shows, created a temporary theatre and developed an audience in the heart of their community. The thing that's been exciting about working here is the energy and drive that the GL4 producers and others on the estate have to make things happen. In a short time we've gone from the first one off event, to a full festival including a co-produced walkabout performance that was created with community members, showcased young people's talents and was watched by an audience from across the county as well as industry professionals"
Sarah Blowers Artistic Director Strike a Light.
“Gloucester City Homes own and manage over a thousand social rented & affordable properties in MatsonWe have been proud to support this inspiring programme which hasgrown from strength to strength. We recognise the positive impact arts and culture can have and as a community focused organisation we are committed to working with Matson residents and community groups to jointly provide opportunities residents to develop new skills and passions, grow in confidence and celebrate what Matson has to offer. “
Anita Pope, Director of Housing and Communities,
Gloucester City Homes

“Now people are recognising the amazing strengths in Matson and Robinswood and its rich and growing culture is making it a place that people want to come to”
Mark Gale, Gloucestershire Gateway Trust

“The sessions we have facilitated with the different groups in Matson have been inspiring and have created a buzz amongst the residents.  Updating and redefining the mural on the library with local families and some of the original children who made the mural, now in their 20’s, was amazing and the design compliments the wicker Matson sheep that can be seen grazing throughout the area.  The enthusiasm of all groups involved and the local families just shows what great results can be achieved through co-production and support from organisations such as Create Gloucestershire.”
Lucy Garrett, Managing Director, Art Shape

Some information from the organisations involved

The Matson and Robinswood electoral ward, which includes the White City area, contains the largest social housing estate in Gloucester with a total population of 10,278 people, 4,414 households.  Almost 40% of households in Matson and Robinswood are social housing tenants. 
Culture Matson is a new group with an ambitious creative vision to place art and culture at the heart of the Matson and Robinswood electoral ward.
It is co-ordinated by Create Gloucestershire(CG) a network that supports people and organisations in the cultural and creative industries in Gloucestershire and introduces new people to arts, culture and creativity.  
CG’s role in Culture Matson is funded by Arts Council England and by a Gloucester City wide initiative, led by Gloucester Culture Trust, called Great Place - a programme funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.  CG’s role in Great Place is to enable Matson (and if successful other neighbourhoods) to thrive as a cultural partner in Gloucester leading, shaping and contributing to the cultural life of the city. 
For more details contact Pippa Jones, Director of Create Gloucestershire.
GL4 bring national touring theatre to the heart of Matson in two festivals a year.  Although based in Matson, these festivals are open to all.  A year round programme of free weekly youth participation sessions, GL4 Beats, runs at the Redwell Centre every Tuesday evening in term time 6.15-7.45pm for anyone aged 8 plus.  GL4 is run by two local residents, Sarah O’Donnell and Naomi Draper.
For more details email:
Strike A Light is a Gloucester based organisation striving to make Gloucester a city with a vibrant culture for all.

It has three strands:
PROGRAMMING: Programming and producing 2 x Contemporary Performance Festivals (Strike A Light Festival) a year, plus bespoke year round programming ensuring a sustained cultural offer
PRODUCING: Delivering a year round Artist Support Programme that provides nationally significant partners for emerging artists  
PARTICIPATION: Developing a year round Arts Participation Programme, Gloucester Rising, for CYP from Gloucester City delivered by experienced, inspiring practitioners.
For more details contact Sarah Blowers, Artistic Director.

Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.
Lucy WilliamsArts Council England
For more details please contact

Barney Heywood