Borough cultural programmes bolstered by national investment
L-R Lesley O’Halloran (director for customer services and culture) Martin Green (consortia rep - Theatre Projects Manager / Treasurer at Healthy Arts) Megan Ball (The Old Courts), Rebecca Davenport (director The Old Courts) Councillor Chris Ready
Two three-year programmes bringing Wigan Borough to life through arts and culture have been made possible thanks to national funding.
Today, Historic England announced £6m worth of funding for local communities across the country to create and deliver community-led cultural activities.
The Old Courts, in partnership with nine borough-based organisations including Wigan Council, has secured £120,000 of the national fund to launch ‘Streets Apart’ – a three-year programme is committed to reviving the iconic street.
The project will be bolstered by further investment from The Old Courts and the local authority.
An additional £70,000 has also been secured for Tyldesley, the group behind the Tyldesley Heritage Action Zone programme. The money will be used to deliver activities within the local community over the same time period.
Dave Jenkins, Managing Director of The Old Courts said: “A key aim for the Streets Apart project is to explore the way people feel about King Street now, to develop greater understanding about its past and to create a feeling of positivity about its future. Some of the key objectives of this new project include, encouraging young people, underrepresented groups and the wider community to play an active role in cultural heritage; to develop an enhanced sense of place and cultural identity on King Street; and to encourage new and sustainable cultural activity in the long term.”
Led by The Old Courts, the Streets Apart consortium will consist of nine other organisations including the council, Wigan Little Theatre, Stolen Thread, SL Leisure, Wigan Building Preservation Trust, Wigan Youth Zone, Wigan Local History and Heritage Society and Healthy Arts, who will work together to achieve the shared aim of bringing world-class cultural experiences to King Street.
Beginning in summer 2021, Streets Apart will commission artists, local creative partners and community groups to co-create unique multi-artform projects on King Street. Projects will include visual art, podcasts and street theatre and will culminate with a celebratory festival for the whole community to enjoy in 2023.
Rosie Scudder, Street Apart Producer said: “The cultural programme will unearth stories that bring King Street’s diverse histories to life and celebrate the rich assortment of past, present and future users of the high street. The programme, designed by the consortium, will include 7 commissions offered to artists based both nationally and within the Wigan and Leigh borough. We will also be working with 14-19 year olds from the borough in the design and delivery of this programme, with a plan to introduce a young member to the consortium within Year 1 of the programme.”
For Tyldesley will work in partnership with the public and The Pelican Centre to deliver their programme of activity and have ambitions to create a community forum to ensure local voices can shape the events. Some suggestions already put forward include a digital heritage trail, kite festival, photography competitions and others.
Ian Tomlinson, community engagement manager for Tyldesley Heritage Action Zone said: “The programme of events has been developed from ideas suggested by local residents and volunteers who are highly invested in the success of this initiative and will be supported by The Pelican Centre as our heritage and culture lead partner organisation.
“We are also proud to announce that we have secured local artist, Vicky Tyrell, as our cultural programme producer to engage with the community about our plans.”
Both programmes will support the wider Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) projects taking shape in Wigan and Tyldesley in order to encourage economic, social and cultural recovery.
Around £3.5m will be invested across the two areas thanks to funding received from Historic England. The money will be used to refurbish a number of buildings on King Street, including The Royal Court Theatre, as well as reviving shop fronts in Tyldesley to encourage start-up businesses to take up new space.
Councillor Chris Ready, cabinet member for communities and culture at Wigan Council said: “These are brilliant examples of how we’re continuing to reach the ambitions of our cultural manifesto, The Fire Within, which is all about making arts and culture accessible to the masses.
“The projects will also support our wider Heritage Action Zone initiatives, which aim to retain the character of our town centre, conserve buildings and put them at the heart of our regeneration and growth plans.
“This really is brilliant news for our borough.”
On Wednesday 26 May, the King Street Heritage Action Zone website will launch and an eye-catching, iconic art installation outside of the Royal Court Theatre will be unveiled. The website will provide people with an overview of the King Street project, including Streets Apart, as well as giving local residents the opportunity to submit their comments on the plans. Residents will also be encouraged to provide their stories, memories and photographs of King Street in order to showcase a comprehensive journey of the area from over the years.
For anyone wanting to find out more about the Street Apart project, visit The Old Courts website (external link) or view information about the For Tyldesley scheme (external link).
Posted on Wednesday 19th May 2021