St Helens Council is planning a multi-million-pound bid to support its vision to develop the borough as a centre of excellence for arts and culture.
The council has previously stated its ambition to be a national centre of excellence for socially engaged arts and cultural practice.
A delegated decision has now been made to submit an ‘expression of interest’ to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s Cultural Development Fund.
The Cultural Development Fund was launched by the government last June and aims to use investment in heritage, culture and creativity as a catalyst for regeneration.
“St Helens Council aims to submit an expression of interest to the Cultural Development Fund,” a decision notice on the council’s website says.
“The aim of the Cultural Development Fund is to support towns and cities to develop transformative culture-led economic growth and productivity strategies by investing in place-based cultural initiatives and the creative industries.”
It was announced in January that five locations across England were successful in receiving a share of the £20 million Cultural Development Fund.
Pending the outcome of its expression of interest, St Helens Council intend to apply for up to £7 million from the fund, although this would be subject to the council’s usual decision-making procedures.
The decision notice says the money will be used to support a number of programmes, including an “internationally significant” arts and culture programme.
It adds that the money would create “education and employment opportunities” and “enhanced economic, social and health improvement opportunities”.
The vision to make St Helens as a centre of excellence for arts and culture form part of the council’s town centre strategy.
The strategy places the canal as the cultural anchor of the town centre.
Council chiefs also want to transform the World of Glass into a new arts and cultural centre, as part of its plans to create a ‘cultural zone’ adjacent to the canal.
However, the delegated decision notice warns there is a risk the town centre strategy will not be achieved if an arts and cultural centre is not created in this key location.
The notice also says that a full application will require a minimum of 20 per cent match funding, which must include non-public funding.
“Match funding can be made up of a combination of public, private, social and in-kind funding,” the notice says.
“As the programme is cross-cutting, there are already funded initiatives that could be utilised as part of the match.”