HOPING to unleash the city’s creativity and imagination is the chief executive of Arts Council England, Darren Henley.

While touring some of Oxford’s cultural hotspots including The Story Museum and Modern Art Oxford, Mr Henley said he wanted to make sure ‘the arts’ were enjoyed by everyone in the county.

He said: “Arts and culture are a really important part of everybody’s life and one of the things for us as an arts council is to make it accessible and encourage everyone across the county to unleash their imaginations.

“Oxford itself is on a national and international stage because of the great arts and culture it has to offer from some of its collections.

“But we want to encourage people who might not think visiting a museum ‘is for them’, to come and realise these cultural spaces are for everyone.”

One of the schemes Arts Council England is funding is the Oxford University Museum Partnership.

The partnership aims to share the Ashmolean, Museum of the History of Science, Natural History Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum’s vast collections to the wider public.

Mr Henley said: “The Museum Partnership is something we are really excited about because we are taking some incredible pieces from world class collections out to community groups who might not come into the centre and visit the museums.

“We want to inspire and open doors for people in Oxfordshire, not just the city centre.

“And we want to inspire the next generation, because it is them who will become not just the next artists, but the next audiences and consumers of art.”

Since 2012/13 the Arts Council has invested more than £22m in projects and spaces across Oxfordshire.

The organisation regularly funds, through its national portfolio, Modern Art Oxford, Modern Poetry in Translation, Oxford Playhouse and Pegasus Theatre Trust Limited. The University of Oxford gets the biggest slice of the pie with £4,370,814 from 2015 to 2018.

Mr Henley added: “Even in times of austerity, investment in art and culture is really very important.

“Studies have shown that they can be vital in improving health and wellbeing.

“People who engage with arts and culture will be leading better lives.”

The Arts Council also offer awards from £1,000 to £100,000 to fund additional projects.

Already this year it has invested £59,900 into The Story Museum’s Animal! exhibition and gave £15,000 for Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival in 2015.