What is important to our city’s different communities? What’s missing, and what do they want to see more of? Where do they feel unseen and unheard? And how can we work together to make culture in Exeter more interesting, relevant, representative, accessible and appealing to anyone who lives here?

Encompass presents Rhythms of Us - text on a pink background with bunting representing different cultural heritage communities

Recent event: Rhythms of Us

Encompass invites you to Rhythms of Us. Curated by representatives of three communities – Polish, Hindu and Caribbean – this event promises an immersive experience that fuses stories and culture through word, music and dance.

Delve into the heart of each vibrant culture through hands-on workshops led by seasoned professionals. Feel the rhythms of traditional Polish folk music, explore the movements of classical Indian dance, and experience music and spoken word from the Caribbean. Whether you’re a seasoned artist, novice or family group, the workshops provide a unique opportunity to connect, learn, and create together.

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Charting a direction, together

In 2021, we began a series of creative conversations with some of our city’s cultural and heritage communities, looking for answers to these questions.

In November that year, we gathered with members of Exeter and Devon’s Hindu, Polish and Windrush communities. Supported by Devon Diversity Consultants, we spent two fantastic days together, exploring what culture means to us all and dreaming up ideas for future projects. 

A large group of people sitting in a circle
Photo © Emily Appleton
A woman laughs while standing in front of a whiteboard covered with drawings and printed photos
Photo © Emily Appleton

Spending time at the Northcott as well as the Barnfield theatre buildings, we talked, laughed, played games, told stories, shared elements of our cultural heritage and kindled some brilliant ideas for future collaborations.

Local visual artist Monic Shanta Brown joined us on our journey, encapsulating our thoughts and ideas in a stunning visual process map and a participatory performance piece. (We also, of course, ate a lot, courtesy of catering from the superb local Dinosaur Café.) 

From these conversations, the Encompass group decided to create their own cultural festival to celebrate Devon’s Caribbean, Hindu and Polish communities, called The Story of Us.

The Story of Us

Nearly a thousand people from across the South West came together in September to explore the creative and cultural connections between Devon’s Caribbean, Hindu and Polish communities as well as what makes them unique.

From a moving poetry recital and a lively Garba dance workshop opening the day through to a late afternoon of mesmerising contemporary sitar and poignant Polish choir, festival co-creators Encompass, a group made up from members of Devon’s Caribbean, Hindu and Polish communities, worked exceptionally hard to deliver an enlightening and entertaining programme that brought to life heritages and histories from throughout the county for everyone to experience.

Explore the day

A woman holding colourful fabric behind her raises her arms in front of a group of children and adults, who are also holding fabric and raising their arms.
Photo by Jacob Blackburn
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A woman points to her left while talking to a child, who is looking down at a fabric print held in their hands. In front of them, a printing press.
Photo (c) Jacob Blackburn
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Four members of Polish choir TAK sing in front of an audience.
Photo (c) Jacob Blackburn
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A young girl, held in arm by a woman in a red and gold dress, holds up a paper windmill featuring patterns from all of the communities involved in The Story of Us festival as well as the Exeter Northcott Theatre logo.
Photo (c) Jacob Blackburn
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Northcott Community Producer Nicole Redfern and Devon Diversity Consultant's Sandyha Dave address an audience from the Barnfield auditorium stage. Behind them, a series of chairs and cardboard boxes, and the Beyond Face theatre company logo. Text reads: 'Beyond Face'.
Photo (c) Jacob Blackburn
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A woman draws Mehndi art on a young child's hand
Photo by Jacob Blackburn
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Check out poems and stories told by Encompass

We filmed members of the Encompass group reciting their favourite poems as well as telling poems and stories they created themselves.

Watch Now

The Story of Us was realised in creative partnership with South West-based theatre company Beyond Face with project guidance from Sandhya Dave of Devon Diversity Consultants.

Full List of Thanks

We welcome new members!

If you belong to one of the communities we are working with for this project (Hindu, Polish or Windrush) and are interested in getting involved (or know someone who might be), please contact our Projects & Participation team.

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