Who gets what from Arts Council's £4.5m jackpot for Wigan cultural projects?

Wigan is facing an “amazing range of cultural opportunities” after landing £4.5m from Arts Council England, it was claimed today

The financial boost for the next three years from the organisation’s National Portfolio will contribute to Wigan council’s ambitions to build creative communities with culture accessible to all residents, the town hall says.

And four organisations which workl in the borough were successful in receiving funding.

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Bubble Up and Curious Minds work with Everthing Human Rights Community Group for a summer holiday activity workshop, for local children transitioning to secondary school, held at The Turnpike Leigh.

They were: Thick Skin Theatre £540,000, The Old Courts £1,050,000, Curious Minds £2,400,000 and Get It Loud In Libraries £500,000.

ThickSkin Theatre is a newly-funded company which reimagines traditional theatre through bold and ambitious work in both the physical and digital world.

The Old Courts’ current projects include 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.

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. It was founded by Wigan man Stewart Parsons who last year was awarded a British Empire Medal for the project which launched in Lancaster.

Roxy Girls playing a gig in Blackpool's central library as part of the Get It Loud in Libraries initiative founded by Wigan man Stewart Parsons

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

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

Coun Chris Ready, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “This is great news for the borough and pays tribute to the hard work of the successful organisations.

“We have a wealth of talent and creativity in the borough and today’s announcement recognises this, a huge congratulations to those involved.”

The Old Courts, Wigan.
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“The funding from Arts Council builds on our ambitions to establish the borough as a centre for creative excellence and we will continue to support our cultural organisations striving to make this a reality.”

Arts Council England received a record-breaking 1,730 applications for its 2023-2026 investment programme – more than double the number of National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) it currently funds.

The success of local organisations including Curious Minds and The Old Courts further supports the cultural growth in the borough spearheaded by the launch of the Cultural Manifesto ‘The Fire Within’ in 2019.

Derri Burdon, CEO of Curious Minds and interim chair of Wigan’s cultural partnership, said: “We’re excited to be part of the growing cultural ecology in Wigan. We look forward to working with local partners and schools to reinstate the borough as pioneering place for cultural education. NPO funding will enable us to lever new investment and create more opportunities for Wigan’s children and young people to experience great culture.”

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David Jenkins, managing director at The Old Courts, said: “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of so many people, today we can say that Wigan is a place that presents an amazing range of cultural opportunities for its communities.

“Investment at this level will keep some incredibly talented local people in creative jobs, and fuel our collective momentum going for the next three years to make brilliant things happen in this borough.”

Find out more about Wigan borough’s cultural manifesto at: thefirewithin.org.uk