The future of Winchester is ours to mould

Two children enjoy the Hat Fair Winchester
Local resident Wendy Wyatt from Worthwhile Works shares her views on why the future of Winchester needs to celebrate its local talent, to hear the voice of the youth and why now is the time for action. Here’s her One Great Win for the city:
Did you know that there are over 500 architects practising in Winchester? And that Winchester employs more people working in the creative industries than anywhere else in Hampshire? Nearly 4000 to be exact, that’s more than works in Portsmouth and Southampton (according to NESTA figures). As for young people studying here, there are over 20,000.

Winchester is a city with heritage running through its veins and a pounding creative heart.

It’s a place that is so much more than a beautiful façade steeped in heritage. The City is home to inventive and pioneering entrepreneurs that create internationally renowned work. From RIBA Award winning architects, award-winning food and drink producers, digital experts and artists. The work of these businesses and creatives sets Winchester apart as a modern-day heritage city, a place that celebrates its past whilst embracing the future. 

There’s more talent here than you might think.  

But despite having the highest number of creative workers in Hampshire, Winchester’s creative scene is still relatively undiscovered and difficult to find.  And despite thousands of students here, Winchester is still not seen by young people (on which its future depends) as a vibrant, creative, affordable, fun, forward-looking place to live, work and play.   

That’s why I wanted to set up Winchester Design Festival. To shine a light on Winchester’s creative underbelly and give creative businesses, students and young people a chance shine and discover their creative potential. Covid-19  has scuppered plans to stage the festival this year, but we will be back next year.  For sure.

It didn’t take much to convince Winchester School of Art, Winchester University, IBM, RIBA and other leading creative businesses, freelancers and students to get involved.  Everyone is saying the same thing.  

It’s time. 

We’re ready.

We are ready to amplify the talent here.

To help kick-start dialogue and collaboration between students, business, creatives, freelancers and organisations.  To propel talent to the wider world and announce Winchester as a city with heritage in its blood and creativity at its heart.

There is a clear sense that some people feel Winchester is a little stuck. Winchester struggles to retain young talent. Young workers leave, seeking employment elsewhere, priced out by high accommodation costs, prevented from starting their own micro-businesses by a lack of flexible and affordable office space and high retail rents. Young artists leave the city due to a lack of studio space and little infrastructure to support them. 

But with the regeneration of the town centre (the old Silver Hill) perhaps that is all about to change. Creating an environment that supports young people get on the housing ladder, independents, fledgling creatives and business benefits everyone – young and old.

Change is in the air

We see intellect at TedXWinchester conference; the Winchester Creatives amazing mentoring scheme; the stunning new Winchester University Digital Futures Centre, incredible support for grassroots arts at the Nutshell Arts Centre. I could go on. It’s all starting to happen – by some incredibly hard working and visionary local folks.  We need more of it please.

Let’s be a magnet for a youthful, future facing creative community. Let’s see the young and old join hands in collaboration and support.

King Alfred would have approved, I’m sure of it!

Do you agree with Wendy? Tell us what you think in the comments box below or join the conversation on social media. You can find us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Worthwhile Works is a creative, cultural and arts development practice with a strong public conscience based in Winchester. 

Featured image: Hat Fair, Winchester.


  1. Fiona Marsh

    I absolutely love this article and hope Winchester City Council take note of what the people of Winchester really want!!!

  2. Richard Coope

    Hi Wendy,

    Excellent article and thanks for mentioning the Winchester Creatives initiative in it. 🙏

    We’d love to be part of these future plans for Winchester. We hope the powers that be who make decisions will be able to make this strong vision become a reality soon.

    We are solely missing a centre for creative excellence in Winchester that can bring all our creative, digital and entrepreneurial talents together.

    We are losing our entrepreneurial and creative talent to Southampton, Bristol, Bournmouth, London and beyond. We have the home grown creative talent but there is no real home for it to belong to. We really need to change this.

    So thank you for championing this cause to bring collective creative talents of Winchester together. 👏

    Whatever help and support you need from the Winchester Creatives team, just let us know.

    Let’s put Winchester’s creativity back on the map. Let’s rebuild Winchester’s Creative Camelot. 😀


    Richard Coope & Dan Benham
    Co-Founders, Winchester Creatives


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *