Holy Trinity Parish Church in Elsecar, Barnsley (c) ChicXulub. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

£20m scheme awards 16 cultural regeneration grants

Jonathan Knott, 17.03.2017
HLF and ACE are each contributing £10m to the Great Place Scheme pilot
Sixteen areas in England have been awarded grants under a £20m joint Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Arts Council England (ACE) pilot scheme designed to embed culture into local regeneration plans.

In a statement, HLF and ACE said that the Great Place Scheme, which was announced in the government’s Culture White Paper last year, aims to “enable ambitious civic organisations, local businesses and communities to invest in and put culture at the heart of their thinking”.

The grants, for amounts between £500,000 and £1.5m, are intended to encourage the areas to build new partnerships that maximise the impact of the local cultural sector, so that this contribution can then be recognised in formal long term plans and strategies.

HLF and ACE said the scheme also aimed to make sure that the money they spend on culture has the “maximum positive impact” on local economies and communities. Each body is contributing £10m to the scheme.

The grants will be used to support projects looking at how culture can be included in the provision of local education and health services. The pilot areas will also research the contribution made by the cultural sector to local economies, and fund people working in it to build networks and increase their skills. The projects will last for up to three years.

Barnsley and Rotherham received £1.3m for a project led by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.

HLF said that although the two boroughs are among the most deprived in England, they “have the potential to become major visitor destinations and create economic growth and prosperity".

The grant-making body said that the funding will allow Barnsley and Rotheram to work with deprived communities that have been hit by the decline in traditional industries. The project will aim to increase engagement with culture, tackle social issues and use heritage stories to reignite local pride and ambition.

It pointed to “immensely important” heritage in the villages of Elsecar and Wentworth, as well as the Cooper Gallery in Barnsley, and Clifton Park in Rotherham, a venue that offers diverse attractions including mini golf, rollercoasters, and a water park, alongside a museum.

Gloucester was awarded £1.5m to "transform how historic buildings and outdoor spaces are used and viewed by local people". The city’s plans involve handing over cultural administrative responsibilities from the council to a new trust.

Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft were awarded £737,900 for plans which include creating a new cultural strategy, increasing cultural education for children and young people, and attracting visitors to the area.

The other areas receiving grants were:

  • Coventry City of Culture Trust (West Midlands) – Place, heritage and diversity in a modern UK city - £1,489,200
  • Craven District Council (Yorkshire and the Humber) – Crossing the Watersheds - £1,340,300
  • Derbyshire County Council (East Midlands) – Vital Valley: A creative future for Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site - £1,285,800
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority (North West) - Stronger together: a culturally diverse and democratic city region - £1,489,255
  • London Borough of Waltham Forest (London) – Creative Connections - Culture for All - £1,355,600
  • Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (London) – Made In Park Royal - £1,489,200
  • Reading Borough Council (South East) – Reading-on-Thames - £558,400
  • Rural Media Charity (West Midlands) – Herefordshire's a Great Place - £748,200
  • Sunderland Culture (North East) – Sunderland Comes of Age - £1,249,900
  • Tees Valley Combined Authority (North East) – Greater Tees - £1,332,500
  • The Creative Foundation (South East) – Pioneering Places: East Kent - £1,489,200
  • Torbay Economic Development Company Ltd (South West) – Torbay, a place to feel great - £1,191,400
  • Visit County Durham (North East) – Northern Heartlands - £1,489,200

Tracey Crouch, the heritage minister, said: "Strong local heritage and culture brings real benefits to communities. It can boost investment, attract tourists and make areas better places to live and work. 

Ros Kerslake, the chief executive of the HLF, said: “The aim is to bring together National Lottery investment and local ambition, to make a difference to people across entire communities. It’s a bold plan and I am looking forward to seeing some innovative and exciting results from these 16 pilot projects.”

Darren Henley, the chief executive of ACE, said: “This new investment will make a big difference to people in areas where there's a genuine commitment to embed arts, culture and heritage in everyday life."

HLF expects to open the scheme in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland later this year.