New Chair and Board appointed to drive forward Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’s new dynamic cultural vision

Image of Morag Wood, woman with white hair and smiling

The BCP Cultural Compact, supported by BCP Council and Arts Council England, has appointed a Chair to lead its newly established Board, set up to support and drive investment into cultural activity and engagement across the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole region.


The new Chair is culture and communications specialist, Morag Wood, who has wide-ranging experience in the arts, science, business, and charity sectors. She has worked for organisations such as the London Development Agency, the Millennium Commission, and the Natural History Museum. Acting as a consultant for the last 18 years, Morag has worked with a range of organisations leading on projects for The National Lottery, The Olympic Lottery Distributor, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the newly opened Museum of Making in Derby and the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, to name but a few. In addition, she is founder director of the Culture Communications Collective an organisation that combines experience and expertise to deliver projects and campaigns for the culture and heritage sectors.

Morag Wood said: “I am delighted to have been appointed to Chair the Cultural Compact Board. Throughout my working life I have been involved in cultural projects in their broadest sense and I look forward to working with the Board and using that diverse experience to help shape a powerful and exciting cultural vision for BCP.

“Some excellent groundwork has already been done through the Cultural Enquiry and the Board and I will be looking at a vision and programme that builds on that work, creating a platform that helps embed culture for everyone, wherever they live in BCP, as well as developing a distinctive profile to attract those from outside the area.”

Morag Wood’s Vice Chair will be Councillor Mohan Iyengar, Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Leisure and Culture at BCP Council. He added; “I am delighted to welcome Morag to the board of The Cultural Compact, a powerful new project which represents something very important for our three towns as well as BCP Council. It marks a push to celebrate our cultural venues and artists in their many forms. It aims to widen the reach of the arts and allows people of all ages and backgrounds to engage with others and develop their cultural expression, to develop what’s authentic and resonates in each of our towns and communities.”

The other skilled and expert Cultural Compact Board Members, all working on a voluntary basis, come from a number of relevant industries and disciplines - Emma Hunt, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the Arts University Bournemouth: diversity and inclusion consultant Natasha Player: the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s CEO Dougie Scarfe; Lighthouse Poole’s Chief executive, Elspeth McBain; Phil Richardson, Chief System Integration Officer at Dorset NHS CCG; Sara Uzzell, Holidays Area Manager, National Trust and will be managed by local, independent producer and project manager Emma Abbey. Over the coming months the Board will be recruiting additional members including two young people.

The BCP Cultural Compact is one of a number of these partnerships that exist across the country, in places such as Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield and the West of England, designed to support and drive investment into the local cultural sector and enhance its contribution to development. This Compact model was included in the recommendations of the UK Cultural Cities Enquiry, an independent look into the cultural resources of Britain’s cities.

The Compact will take forward the recommendations of the Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole Cultural Enquiry. These include cultural talent development and building the local infrastructure while maximising the excellence of existing arts venues. It is hoped that through culture, distinctive neighborhoods and dynamic town centres will be nurtured, urban mobility and social cohesion encouraged. In an accessible and imaginative public realm, there will be a focus on health, wellbeing, and environmental sustainability.

In partnership with BCP Council, Morag Wood and The Board will develop a cultural strategy to deliver on the above recommendations and realise the priorities of the Council’s Big Plan and Corporate Strategy, and the ambitions of Arts Council England’s “Let’s Create” strategy.

As a priority the Cultural Compact will engage with the creative communities of Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole to ensure that the work of the Compact is fully inclusive and representative, with the aspiration that all residents will have equal opportunities to enjoy and participate in cultural activity and celebrations of all kinds, from fetes to festivals, singing to street art, film to fiction, comedy to craft, ballet to bhangra, plays to painting and museums to musicals.

Phil Gibby, South West Director of Arts Council England added: “Recent evidence shows that culture can build belonging, provide local jobs and revive high streets - no other sector delivers so much return on public investment, so we’re very pleased to be supporting Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’s cultural vision through our Cultural Compacts scheme. The programme aims to support and develop the unique, local arts and cultural sector of a place, with a special emphasis on cross-sector engagement; partnerships that bring together local authorities, businesses, education providers and cultural and community leaders - all driven by a shared ambition for their locality, they will co-design a vision that has culture at the heart.

“It’s fantastic news that Morag will be joining the Compact as Chair. Her breadth of experience in various sectors, and skills as a communications professional place her well to support the aims of the programme and to help articulate and deliver the cultural ambition of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole as one cohesive conurbation, with huge potential to drive lasting social and economic benefits.”

Posted on Friday 10 September 2021