Wigan culture plans could get £2m injection

The Museum of Wigan Lifes Egyptian exhibition is one of the towns existing cultural hits
The Museum of Wigan Lifes Egyptian exhibition is one of the towns existing cultural hits

Wigan town hall’s cabinet approved a draft strategy which could see £2m invested over the next five years.

Ruling members heard a recent peer review identified “a gap in the provision of Wigan’s cultural offer” and that the borough lagged behind its neighbours in terms of arts engagement.

Other news: Wigan Road hit and run: Teen was going to hand himself in 'after watching Love Island'

The new approach will seek to “develop Wigan as a hub for artists and change the cultural perceptions of the town” by developing a “network of its cultural organisations.”

A culture team – formed of existing town hall staff – has been established and will be tasked with attracting external grant funding.

Coun Terry Halliwell suggested to colleagues that the strategy could incorporate the borough’s “built environment heritage” and called for department heads to bring forward any schemes that would improve street scenes.

He said: “We’ve seen some great work in the libraries, especially the Ancient Egypt project, that have been well received. We’ve got a huge kick-start there and with what the Old Courts have been doing.”

Coun Jenny Bullen added: “I welcome it because it is a dimension that is missing in the borough, and (the approach) is very much about children and young people. I support it because it’s wide ranging; it’s all art, music, drama and about the heritage of the borough that we are building up.

“I would just make a plea that in development we get beyond Wigan and Leigh town centres and get out into the districts.”

A report presented to members highlighted that improving Wigan’s cultural offering will help improve the borough’s economy, provide skills and employment opportunities and help promote health and well-being.

No additional capital funding will be required as the costs will be met with cash from other department budgets and efficiencies.

And the costs may be lower than the £1.9m estimate, the report added.

Coun Kevin Anderson suggested the strategy can make use of the borough’s heritage trails through conservation areas.

Approving the draft’s progress through cabinet, council leader David Molyneux said it was encouraging there was “so much enthusiasm” for the new approach.

There are also hopes that Wigan as a cultural destination will be further boosted by developments around Wigan Pier.