Funding enables Council projects to boost culture and heritage

11 March 2021

Arts, culture and heritage projects organised by Cheshire West and Chester Council have been able to survive, adapt and plan for a brighter future using the Cultural Recovery Funding (CRF).

The Council was awarded a CRF grant of £60,434 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery, to remodel some of its cultural programmes to find new ways of delivering them that ensure sustainability. In his recent budget, the Chancellor announced a further round of funding for museums and the arts, to provide a lifeline during the ongoing pandemic.

The funding has benefited communities across the borough by providing employment for artists and other people in the creative sectors. The Council is committed to cultural recovery as part of its Stronger Futures plan to make the borough better and stronger as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Council’s four museums have been able to boost their digital offer, supporting teachers and their pupils, by developing content to enhance learning opportunities ‘outside’ the classroom. Pupils learn more successfully in a multi-sensory environment, and the material uses real objects and archaeology. Filming has already taken place for digital content and future plans include other types of digital material, potentially involving the popular ‘Minecraft’ type of gameplay.

Art facility, Cine Window in Winsford, has proved a huge success with 600 pupils taking part in the Christmas window showreel. The project has created employment for two creative professionals and freelance opportunities for local artists. A ‘Student Showcase’ presented the talented work of creative media students at Warrington and Vale Royal College and the current installation showcases innovative Family Film Fun activities and encourages local residents to share their own creations developed during lockdown.

With many non-essential shops closed and residents only being allowed to visit Winsford Cross for essential shopping, the films are also able to be viewed on Cine Window’s Facebook, Instagram and website

Cath Campbell, Creative Producer and artist for Cine Window said: “The Cultural Recovery Fund as given Cine Window a huge opportunity to create an energetic programme that has focussed on making strong links with the community in Winsford and to embed us in the future plans for the Town Centre redevelopment. Highlights have been the Student Showcase that brought in a really youthful audience and made us focus on our social media presence, our current participative exhibition focusses on ‘how to’ films aimed at families, and alongside this, we have showcased local artists, graphic designers and photographers.”

As the Covid-19 restrictions have prevented performances from being delivered to outdoor and venue-based audiences, it has particularly affected St Mary’s and Cheshire Rural Touring Arts, who have also benefited from the funding. 

The initial focus at St Mary’s has been research and engagement to inform a re-modelled programme, including improving the digital capacity of the venue in response to requirements identified by local communities who use the building. A future programme for St Mary’s is being drawn up with an initial focus on allowing local creatives, organisations and communities to begin to re-start their activities. The programme will support local communities’ recovery from the pandemic in line with the Government’s roadmap for recovery.

Cheshire Rural Touring Arts have created a ‘CRTA at Home’ newspaper, which will be delivered to subscribers in Spring 2021. Local artists, designers and makers will be discovered and commissioned to develop creative ‘how to’ activities that CRTA audiences can enjoy at home. Ongoing restrictions make contact with audiences challenging but a future programme is being developed that will bring socially-distanced and digital performances to a variety of community buildings and locations across the borough.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Well-being said: “The challenges we’ve faced this year have shown just how much we need arts and culture as an antidote to the stresses, pressure and isolation resulting from the pandemic.

“I believe that the input of our arts and culture sector has, and will, continue to aid our community’s recovery and wellbeing. In these uncertain times, with the help of this funding, our amazing cultural, arts and heritage sector can continue to successfully play this role in the future.”

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