Appetite, Stoke-on-Trent

The three-year ‘Appetite Stoke’ programme has engaged more people in arts and culture, helping to boost local pride, town centre footfall and perceptions of Stoke-on-Trent. This case study forms part of the Value of culture - regeneration section of our online Culture Hub.

Appetite, Stoke-on-Trent

Background and history

Stoke-on-Trent has historically been characterised by low arts engagement and was eligible to apply for funding from Arts Council England’s ‘Creative People and Places’ fund, as it fell in the bottom 20 per cent of local authorities in terms of arts engagement.

A consortium of partners including the New Vic Theatre, Partners in Creative Learning, Staffordshire University and 6Towns Radio came together to develop a successful bid, which focused on engaging local people to help shape the programme on an ongoing basis.

The programme began delivery in 2013 and ran until 2016, before securing a second phase of funding, which will support continuation until 2019.


  • 2012 – Consortium came together to write bid
  • 2013 – Phase 1 of the programme began
  • 2014 – Established the Big Feast
  • 2016 – Phase 2 of the programme began and will run until 2019

Funding for the Appetite Stoke programme

£3 million Arts Council England for 2013-16

Local residents played a big role in shaping the Appetite programme, with a‘taster menu’ in the first year used to allow residents to experience a range of free arts events and give feedback. This close engagement has continued through the regular ‘supper club’, where local people come together to help Appetite shape and develop activities and events.

The programme has sought to make art more accessible, putting art in non-traditional spaces such as parks, hospitals, and bus stations, and emphasising affordability, availability and accessibility in its programme. Appetite launched the Big Feast arts festival in Stoke in 2014 and has run this annually since then.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council was closely involved in the programme from an early stage and has delivered complementary activity to strengthen programme impact, including animating the city centre through events and activities, delivering high-profile arts events and activities in parks, and establishing a community grant for local people and groups to develop their own arts events.



100,000 more day visitors to Stoke-on-Trent in 2016


two-thirds of the budget spent in the local area, directly supporting local jobs


audience feedback shows 90 per cent felt an increase in community pride

  • supporting local jobs – with around two-thirds of the £3 million programme budget to be spent in the local area, this will directly support local jobs
  • 20 per cent increase in city centre footfall on the weekend of the Big Feast festival, boosting spend with city centre businesses
  • 100,000 more day visitors to Stoke in 2016 – with part of this rise likely to be attributable to the Appetite programme
  • cultural/creative sector support – the programme has supported local artist development, supporting growth and development of these sectors
  • enhanced image – the programme has supported enhanced perceptions of the city, which the city council believes has played a role in attracting new inward investment in the city, a rise in new shop openings, and new hotel developments being planned
  • 90 per cent felt an increase in community pride – as reported through audience feedback.

Learning points

Community sense of ownership: through taster menus and the big supper meetings, the delivery team has sought to work closely and openly with local people to ensure the programme is seen as locally owned and shaped, developed by and for the community.

Early start: Appetite ensured that events started early in the programme to get people involved, engaged and talking about their experiences. Even if these were small-scale, this helped the programme gather momentum.

Importance of brand and identity: Appetite saw the importance of developing a brand and identity early on, so local audiences would quickly associate the Appetite logo with interesting and high-quality events. It built a strong social media presence with a big reach across Facebook and Twitter, as well as people signing up to newsletters. This also enables Appetite to support other local artists and events on their platform.

“Appetite has created a strong cultural network across the city and has reconnected people with spaces in the city, while creating new opportunities by reimagining things in a different way. Events like ‘Enchanted Chandelier’, ‘Bianco’ and ‘Big Feast’ have changed the perception of Stoke-on-Trent and have built a groundswell of confidence in the city as a great place to live.”
Councillor Abi Brown, Deputy Leader, Stoke-on-Trent City Council