We are building a network of cultural volunteers to be strong advocates for culture in Torbay, to encourage engagement in local arts, culture and heritage by Torbay residents and to support the delivery of our growing arts and heritage offer.


We have some of the lowest levels of cultural engagement in England but are ranked 243 out of 325 for heritage potential in the RSA 2016 Heritage Index. We need to grow and widen audiences for arts and heritage, increasing participation to help residents feel connected to and proud of this place and sharing with visitors our sense of what makes Torbay unique.

Our Cultural Strategy consultation revealed that many residents feel the arts in Torbay are “put on for tourists and not for the likes of me.” Endorsement of local arts, culture and heritage by other Torbay residents is therefore crucial to gaining the attention of those inclined to feel this way. Informed by our 2015 review of volunteering in Torbay and inspired by 2016’s Global Geopark Conference ambassadors scheme, we believe that the best way to build the strongest advocacy is to develop a network of cultural volunteers.

In addition, of course, an established pool of cultural volunteers will provide a go-to resource for our events and festival organisers, venues and practitioners, to ensure that their work is delivered in sustainable and resilient ways.


We will create a cultural volunteering scheme to enable local people to contribute to the vibrancy and sustainability of Torbay's cultural sector, both in person and online. We will deliver:

  • Cultural volunteering ‘test and learn’ programme based around Situations’ The Tale and the International Agatha Christie Festival

  • An ongoing cultural volunteering scheme, based on the learning from this initial programme, to include

    • light-touch framework for the ongoing recruitment, training and development of local people to act as volunteers and advocates for culture in Torbay

    • pool of volunteers/advocates

    • process for deploying volunteers for different cultural events and activities, in person and online

    • training & development activities.

Our work will be informed by complementary volunteering networks within Torbay, including the pilot scheme currently under development by Torbay's museums through the Arts Council England Resilience-funded ‘Growing Museums’ project.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please get in touch with us.


This project's objectives are to:

  • increase the quality of networked cultural volunteering opportunities

  • enable residents and visitors to find out about quality arts and culture in Torbay more easily and increase participation

  • provide a go-to volunteering resource for Torbay’s cultural events, festivals, venues and practitioners, to ensure that their work is delivered in sustainable and resilient ways.


Torbay Culture will be commissioning a consultant with expertise in volunteer co-ordination to lead this project. It is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, as part of Torbay's Great Place Scheme.


We have commissioned experienced freelance team Anna Gilroy, Laura Carus and Holly Patton to run this project. The outline timescales are:

August - September 2017: Set up and run 'test and learn' programme (complete)
February - July 2018: Commission a volunteer co-ordinator (underway)
July 2018 - January 2019: Develop framework/toolkit and co-ordinate the volunteers
February 2019: Formally launch the Torbay Culture Ambassadors volunteer scheme
February 2019 onwards: Co-ordinate the Torbay Culture Ambassadors scheme including planning for long-term sustainability.

“I am proud of myself for trying something new and embracing the unknown. It has been an enriching and positive experience for me.”

– Torbay Culture Volunteer
“I felt so welcomed by you all. I had the chance to perform, to be part of the team, to do something I’d never do usually. I really missed the days I wasn’t on duty. I don’t know what I’ll do when its over.”

– Torbay Culture Volunteer