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Thursday, 9th May 2013


The Leeds & Liverpool Canal is set to be the centrepiece of a creative corridor for the arts after its guardian, the Canal & River Trust, was awarded £2 million of funding from Arts Council England’s Creative people and places programme.  The money will be used to connect the communities that live on and alongside the canal and beyond in Pennine Lancashire through high profile, world-class arts and events.

Pennine Lancashire’s waterways played a starring role in the Industrial Revolution and are part of the nation’s industrial heritage.  Today, they form the backbone of leisure, tourism and the economic growth of many communities.  The programme will be inspired by the canal and adjacent waterways, with their rich natural and built heritage, and the culturally diverse people that live and work on and along them.

Over the next 10 years, local people will be involved in programming, producing and experiencing high quality arts projects that have roots in the waterway communities they pass through.  Ideas include festivals, screenings, performance, environmental arts projects, temporary digital installations, exhibitions and pop-up cultural spaces.  The Leeds & Liverpool Canal will become known locally, nationally and internationally as place to come for a unique heritage, cultural and leisure experience.

The Canal & River Trust is working in partnership with Arts Partners in Pennine Lancashire (APPL), Barnfield Construction Limited and Groundwork Pennine Lancashire, to deliver a three-year programme of world-class, community-led arts projects, which will stretch from Blackburn to Brierfield along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.  The four local authorities of Pennine Lancashire – Hyndburn, Blackburn, Burnley and Pendle – are also supporting the bid, which will see Burnley and Blackburn forming hubs for arts activity. 

The funding comes from Arts Council England’s Creative people and places programme, which is designed to empower communities to take the lead in shaping local arts provision.  Today Arts Council England announced 11 successful applications, which have been awarded a total of just over £18 million over the next three years. 

The Canal & River Trust consulted with local boating organisations and boaters, local arts organisations including Culturapedia and Mid Pennine Arts, Burnley Youth theatre, In-situ and Curious Minds, as well as community organisations, local housing associations, youth organisations and canal-side communities, on the bid.

Steven Broomhead, chair of the Canal & River Trust’s North West Waterway Partnership, said:  “The successful Creative people and places bid will offer the opportunity to promote the cultural and arts element of our local canals.  Our canals are steeped in culture, art and history and they inspire people: by the boats that use them; by the sense of history they create; by the wildlife that finds its way into the heart of our towns.  But we need support to help us continue to take care of our 200-year old canals.  We hope that this funding will bring world-class art to the heart of Pennine Lancashire and encourage people to take pride in the canals that form such an important part of the community, attracting visitors from across the country and beyond.”

Jane Beardsworth, North West Regional Director, Arts Council England said:  “Our Creative people and places fund takes a new approach by allowing communities and grass roots arts organisations to play a leading part in inspiring others to get involved with the arts.  We’re delighted to offer an award to the Canal & River Trust and their partners Groundwork Pennine Lancashire Trust, Arts Partners in Pennine Lancashire and Barnfield Construction Limited to lead this programme of activity in Pennine Lancashire – their plans are very exciting, with strong local connections, great international ambition and they show a real commitment to community-led decision making.”

Mandy Precious, representing APPL, said:  "The success of the Creative people and places grant is great news for the Arts Organisations in Pennine Lancashire who all passionately believe in the power of the arts to transform, empower and enrich people's lives.  It provides us all with the opportunity to pro-actively support a programme that seeks to develop a high quality arts programme accessible to all; driven by the needs, passion and interests of the local population."

Tim Webber, Managing Director of Barnfield Construction Limited, commented:  "We look forward to working with the Canal & River Trust offering inspiration into what is sure to be an exciting programme that will connect communities with art inspired events.  In joint ventures with local councils Barnfield is currently developing a selection of high-profile former derelict mill buildings along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.  If the hard work and determination of the team prior to receiving the grant funding is anything to go by I am confident that the Leeds & Liverpool Canal will once again take a starring role in this area."

Peter Jordan at Groundwork Pennine Lancashire said:  "This project offers a great opportunity to engage with a large part of the local population that doesn't think that ‘art’ is for them.  To demonstrate how art can enrich people's lives in novel and exciting ways and help to build stronger local communities, proud of where they live and excited to see it put on the map in this way."    

To see what local people think about the project, please take a look at this video:

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