Hopes for £2m to be invested in cultural activity

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Organisations in Wigan Borough are uniting to bid for funding that will encourage more people to engage with arts and cultural opportunities.

Wigan Council is one of five organisations from the borough who are working together to bid for up to £2m from the Arts Council’s Creative People and Places pot.

The fund is to encourage more people to choose, create and take part in art experiences in the places where they live and is typically earmarked for areas where there are fewer opportunities to get involved with the arts.

As Wigan Borough is one of the eligible areas, five organisations including; Wigan Borough Community Partnership (lead bidder), Wigan Council, The Turnpike CIC, Arts at The Mill CIC (The Old Courts) and Wigan and Leigh College have united to put together a bid, which will help them to develop a high quality of programme of cultural activity across the borough over four years, starting from November 2019.

Trevor Barton MBC, chair of trustees for the Wigan Borough Community Partnership, who is the lead organisation for the bid said: “If we’re successful in achieving this funding, we could enable communities in Wigan and Leigh to grow culturally and can work with partners to create a programme of activity that will inspire people who wouldn’t normally engage with the arts.

“This bid is very much a team effort and we are hopeful that our strong bid will mean that we are another step closer to becoming a culturally inclusive borough.”

To qualify, the funding must be spent over four years but the consortia placing the bid must have a ten year plan for arts and culture in their area.

If successful, the programme hopes to bring world-renowned artists to the borough and activities will be shaped by local communities to increase participation, particularly in areas with the least engagement.

Councillor Chris Ready, cabinet member for communities, whose brief includes culture, said: “We already have a good cultural offer in Wigan Borough thanks to our libraries, the Museum of Wigan Life and community initiatives financed through The Deal for Communities Investment Fund but this it is essential that we develop and grow.

“One requirement of the bid is a minimum of 25 per cent match funding, which Wigan Council is more than happy to invest in order to create a long-term programme of activity that local people will be proud of.

“We are committed to working with our cultural partners and the community to put forward a bid that will truly make a difference that will inspire people to engage in cultural activity.  

“We look forward to hearing back from the Arts Council and are hopeful that we will secure the funding so we can deliver our ambitions.”

The Creative People and Places bid will align with the themes and five-year delivery plan outlined in the borough’s new cultural manifesto, which has been developed with local groups. The manifesto follows Wigan Council’s recent work on the cultural strategy, which will be launched in the Spring.

Residents are being asked to give their views on what activities they would like to see more of across the borough. Visit www.wigan.gov.uk/Council/Consultations and click ‘Arts and cultural activity in Wigan Borough’ to take part.