Cultural hub in Wigan town centre shopping venue shortlisted for industry award
The new cultural hub in The Galleries Shopping Centre in the middle of Wigan is in the running for its first major award.
The Fire Within, which is launching the council's five-year cultural plan in association with Wigan-based artists Al and Al, has been shortlisted in the Town and City Management Industry Awards 2019.
Other news: Man jailed for 'unprovoked' knife attack that nearly killed his sleeping friendThe arts hub, located in six empty retail units on the upstairs level of the town centre retail venue, is in the category Best Culture and Arts Scheme.
The once empty units were transformed into bright, interactive exhibition spaces, showcasing performances and displays.
The event, hosted in partnership with cultural organisations and internationally renowned artists Al Holmes and Al Taylor, is in line with wider plans to revitalise the shopping centre, connect new audiences to culture, showcase talent and create diverse uses for the town centre.
Since launch day, where more than 23,000 people passed through the shopping centre, events held in The Fire Within HQ have ranged from music performances to poetry and film screenings.
And, over the next five years, the council alongside cultural partners will explore five themes in a bid to engage more people locally with the arts, positioning Wigan borough as a culturally thriving district in the North West and to encourage further investment in the area.
The town hall now hopes to secure recognition at the prize-giving from the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM) and is the only English organisation in the running.
Coun Chris Ready, cabinet holder for communities, said: “To be shortlisted for this award is a fantastic achievement for this borough. To be the only organisation in England to be shortlisted is even more exciting.
“We have worked extremely hard with our cultural partners and the community to create something that is inspiring and relatable to residents.
“Wigan borough has such a rich history and incredible talent, both of which should be celebrated. We are committed to investing resource into the cultural sphere and building a creative, alternative offer in our town centre as we know that this work has a number of benefits both economically and socially and also from a health perspective.
“The Fire Within has been a huge success, with leaders in the field showing support for our work, so we are optimistic and excited about the possible outcome.
“Although it would be amazing to win this award, we are humbled to have been shortlisted and are proud of the success and hard work that has so far gone into The Fire Within. We look forward to what else our new manifesto will bring.”
Tthe ATCM is specifically keen to explore the future consumer, how town centres have evolved and how arts and cultural events can drive footfall into towns and cities.
Wigan Council beat strong competition in the Best Arts and Culture Scheme category to make the final three alongside Scottish projects Dunfermline Delivers and Aberdeen Inspired.
Ojay McDonald, chief executive of ATCM, said: 'We have received more than 50 award submissions over a wide range of categories so just to be shortlisted is a great accolade in itself.
“We have received some very high-quality, innovative and creative submissions for the 2019 awards that all demonstrate excellence in the industry.
“The judges have said that the fierce competition and standard of entries has certainly made judging a very difficult process and the Wigan Council submission for The Fire Within has been given a very worthy place on the shortlist along with entries from Dunfermline Delivers and the Aberdeen Inspired.”
The winners of each category will be announced on Tuesday June 26.