Arts and cultural events in Swindon will become a focus for improvement and investment in a major scheme over the next three years by Arts Council England.

The borough is one of 11 places in the south west and 54 across the country which have been identified as needing priority attention for getting more people involved in such activities.

A spokesman for the Arts Council England said: “Priority place status recognises the need for increased development time from the Arts Council to grow cultural investment in the area and is intended to give more people the opportunity to enjoy excellent cultural experiences in their communities and neighbourhoods.”

Its chief executive Darren Henley added: “Artists, arts organisations, museums and libraries have found creative new ways to serve their audiences and communities since the start of the pandemic. Our new delivery plan shows how we’ll work with them to build on that spirit of imagination and innovation as our society reopens. We’re looking forward to nurturing dynamic new partnerships with local people and organisations in each of these locations.”

Swindon Borough Council, which wants to build a new bigger Wyvern Theatre as a new home for the art gallery and museum which is currently closed, said being part of the scheme would help bring those plans to fruition.

Council leader David Renard said: “We are thrilled to be named as one of Arts Council England’s priority places as it will build on our hard work, supported by our partners, to promote Swindon’s fantastic arts and cultural offer. 

“We have bold and ambitious plans to create an £80m Cultural Quarter in the heart of our town centre and we look forward to working even more closely with the Arts Council so they can lend their considerable expertise in helping us deliver this exciting project.

"This is a major achievement for Swindon and will really put our plans in the spotlight and help us improve our chances of attracting significant funding to support our arts and cultural activity.”

The Arts Council said places had been chosen based on a variety of factors, but the main criteria was a too-low level of engagement with the arts and cultural activities and also a good scope for improving that.

The council’s plan said: “Swindon offers an exciting opportunity for culture and creativity to positively influence the town and its communities.”

It said that public libraries would be key: “We will work closely with them to ensure that they play a central role in supporting levelling up and community building, developing employability and helping to deliver health, well-being and loneliness strategies and helping to close the digital divide.”

A spokesman for the Arts Council said no extra funding had been allocated or announced for Swindon or the other priority places – but the council will work with partners in the borough council and other organisations to help the town access money for the arts and culture.