Wigan arts projects hit the £4.5m jackpot

Arts Council England has announced almost £4.5m worth of grants for Wigan cultural projects.
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A number of borough organisations were today (November 4) discovering how much of that cash they will be receiving for their ventures over the next three years.

The biggest recipient appears to be Arts at the Mill, the outfit behind the Old Courts success story which receives £1.05m.

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This is on top of the £945,621 it received last year from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund for those trying to get back on their feet after Covid-19 lockdowns.

Inside the Royal Court Theatre. Photo by Mark SixsmithInside the Royal Court Theatre. Photo by Mark Sixsmith
Inside the Royal Court Theatre. Photo by Mark Sixsmith

One of the organisation’s current projects is the renovation and bringing-back-into-use of the long neglected Royal Court Theatre on King Street. It also hosts many cultural events at its Crawford Street base.

Arts Council chief executive Darren Henley said: “Arts at the Mill has been revolutionising Wigan’s cultural landscape from its Old Courts base with community-led arts programmes, co-created projects, live events, and a commitment to artist development.

"It will now get regular funding for the first time, receiving £1.05m over the next three years to develop more brilliant and engaging work.”

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In total Wigan will receive £4,491,834m – an increase on the previous tranche awarded.

Arts Council England Chief Executive Darren HenleyArts Council England Chief Executive Darren Henley
Arts Council England Chief Executive Darren Henley

Award-winning ThickSkin Theatre, another newly-funded company, is another beneficiary. It reimagines traditional theatre through bold and ambitious work in both the physical and digital world.

And two more organisations will continue to receive substantial support.

Get It Loud in Libraries programmes high-quality live music in UK libraries, reaching more than 25,000 people since 2005. A teenage Adele performed one of her first gigs as part of the project which has also hosted bands like Wolf Alice and British Sea Power.

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Improving opportunities for children and young people is a key priority for the Arts Council.

Curious Minds tackles unequal access to culture for children and young people by connecting them, their teachers and youth workers to creative practitioners.

Since being founded in 2009 it has supported 1,800 schools and more than 570 cultural organisations.

Through this investment programme, the Arts Council says it is delivering on the promise of its 10-year strategy Let’s Create: a country transformed by creativity and culture, one in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish.

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Mr Henley said: “This is what the new investment will help deliver. But it is not the only way we are supporting Wigan.

"Our Creative People and Places programme aims to transform access to arts and culture in places where engagement is low and in Wigan its local project ‘Down To Earth’ invites Wigan residents to shape and create art, focusing on the borough’s green spaces as sites for creative events.

“This support builds on Wigan’s own excellent cultural manifesto, The Fire Within, which outlines an ambitious culture-led transformation of the borough.

“As Chief Executive of the Arts Council, I spend a lot of time travelling around the country, and I see how investment in arts and culture can transform lives and help bring jobs and fresh confidence to communities.“This week’s announcement is a vote of confidence in Wigan and will enable more people than ever to share in the benefits that great arts, creativity, and culture can bring.”

Mr Henley added: “Artists and cultural organisations can play a central role in defining and regenerating their community – and that is what is happening here in Wigan.

“These are exciting times with the borough harnessing arts and culture to transform life here, giving everyone the chance to engage with creativity and using it to re-energise Wigan’s economy.

“At Arts Council England, it is our job to invest in arts organisations, museums, and libraries to make sure everyone can feel the joy and inspiration of culture in their lives.

“Last year we announced we wanted to invest more in the borough and that it was a priority to make this happen. We believe people in Wigan deserve to enjoy the benefits of increased investment. This means more of us can experience the very best and most ambitious arts and culture, wherever we live and whatever our background.