South West

Hand drawn iIllustration by Supermundane with lots of intricate lines and patterns

Welcome to the South West, a region of contrasts.

The South west has a long history of producing world-class artists and cultural organisations, known for the strength of its theatre-making, for its artists and craftmakers, for leading digital and creative media practice and for the dazzling explosion of carnival and outdoor art each year.  

There is a vibrant year-long programme of art and culture that ranges from large-scale outdoor festivals to small neighbourhood projects, from theatres, producers and galleries with international reputations to those working with their local communities or behind the scenes to develop the talent of the future.

International youth–led project

Arts and culture developing global citizenship

Find out more
Black and white image of lots of hands waving together close up
The Complete Freedom of Truth, 2016 programme. Image © Robert Golden.

Our investment

The South West is home to 80 National Portfolio Organisations, including one Bridge organisation, with an investment of £59.6 million. The South West has three Major Partner Museums with an investment of £9.3 million. Total 2015–18 investment in these programmes in the South West is £69.1 million. We also invest in artists and art organisations in the South West through Grants for the Arts, our open access funding programme for arts activities.

Meet our South West Area Council

Find out more on future plans for development in the South West in our corporate plan

Get in touch


Our investment at work: South West case studies

Latest news from the South West

In the background, one dancer stands on her hands on a table, in the foreground a man stands staring at his mobile phone

Dancing in Dorset

Dance practitioners, organisations and audiences across the country will benefit from this national showcasing scheme, championing diversity in dance and bringing it to new and unusual places

Two women wearing black ovecoats looking at the camera and laughing one with a hand on the others shoulder

Visible Girls

Visible Girls: Photography project given new life with the help of our National Lottery funded Grants for the arts scheme

A large group of people sat on the ground or in deck chairs in front of the bandstand on the beach. The sea is in the background and a few clouds sit in the blue sky

To the beach

This new network of local authorities and cultural organisations is helping to take great art and culture to people living in coastal communities around England.

An artist painting a portrait

Awkward Bastards is back

Disability arts organisation DASH are pushing the conversation around inclusivity and invisibility forward at their latest Awkward Bastards event.

Image captions
Top left to bottom right: 1. Tea Dances with a Twist! by Plymouth Dance. Image © Kevin Clifford 2. Viking Schools Workshops at National Maritime Museum Cornwall. Photo © Toby Weller / National Maritime Museum Cornwall 3. Inside Prema Arts Centre Photo © Rupert Russell of RSDR Photography 4. Imbalance Joli Vyann 5. St Pauls Carnival . Image © Chris Bahn 6. Charmine and Janice. Visible Girls. Image © Anita Corbin. 7. Aldeburgh Festival Bandstand on the Beach. © Aldeburgh Festival 8. Portraits Untold. Photo © Matthew Fessey 9. Beastie, Lone Twin © Pekka Makinen 10. Carl Au in Bright Phoenix by Jeff Young at Liverpool Everyman. Photo © Jonathan Keenan for Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse. 11. Sampad South Asian Arts perform at the Birmingham Weekender 2015. Photo © Andrew Fox / Birmingham Weekender. 12. The Sultan's Elephant, Royal de Luxe, 2006. Produced by Artichoke in London. Photo © Sophie Laslett 13. Hofesh Schecter rehearsal at UDance. Photo © Brian Slater. 14. Dot, Squiggle and Rest at Polka Theatre with Royal Opera House. Photo © Robert Workman / Polka Theatre.