Major arts project will celebrate Wigan's King Street
Artists in Wigan are being urged to take part in a new project to revolutionise a town centre thoroughfare.
A cultural consortium comprising nine organisations from across the borough, including the Old Courts and Wigan Council, is looking to support the development of three artworks about King Street to be realised between November 2021 and January 2022.
These commissions mark the beginning of Streets Apart, a cultural programme that seeks to unearth and celebrate diverse histories and imagine a different future for King Street, through artist and community led projects.
Rosie Scudder, the producer of Streets Apart, said: “We want new artists to take inspiration from the history and stories from King Street, that will take place on the street.
“They can work in any art form from visual artwork to live performance, we’re open to any ideas.
“We are looking for people to work with the community as participants will be paired with a creative partner from the area.”
Streets Apart will bring cultural life back to the street, showcasing the creativity of the borough and beyond.
The three year programme will reimagine King Street as a destination for the whole community; animating the street with multi-form artworks.
“Overall we will commission seven new artworks, three this year, three next year and one in the project’s final year.
“This is all leading up to us running a street festival on King Street in 2023.”
The project is funded by Historic England which set a cultural programme to run alongside an even bigger project called the High Streets Heritage Action Zone.
Historic England are supporting 69 high streets nationally to develop their economy, their social and cultural life as well as celebrating their heritage.
“King Street is already a part of this project and there is work happening there such as the development of the Royal Court theatre.
“In October last year, the Old Courts, who are the lead partner, gathered together all the organisations and we decided we wanted it led by artists and communities.
“Its all about bringing exciting new experiences to the street that perhaps wouldn’t typically be associated with it.
“Us as a consortium are just there to help produce all the amazing ideas in the best way possible.”
King Street is widely known in Wigan for its party-hard, 10 drinks for £10, 11pm-6am culture. What once was a focal point for community, arts and entertainment in the early 20th century, has shifted to focus almost exclusively upon late night bars and nightclubs
In 2020, older people came together on King Street to find company in the street’s sports bar.
Families ate together here, people visited the Job Centre, shoppers cut-through the street to catch their bus.
In the 1800s, the sick and poor lined up outside Wigan Dispensary for medicine and food.
During the Second World War, people ate at make-shift communal kitchens in the Royal Court Theatre, while refugees were welcomed into the former Wigan Baptist Church.
The consortium believes that King Street has the potential to bring people together from the borough and beyond.
Applications for the first phase are open until October 14 and to apply visit the Old Courts website.