St Helens becomes region’s first Artsmark town

Representatives from St Helens Councils arts, library, and music services with school teachers and representatives from Curious Minds at the Citadel Arts Centre in St Helens town centre
Representatives from St Helens Councils arts, library, and music services with school teachers and representatives from Curious Minds at the Citadel Arts Centre in St Helens town centre

The borough’s arts and culture scene continues to ride on the crest of a wave after St Helens became the first town in the North West to be awarded Artsmark status.

Accredited by Arts Council England, Artsmark is the creative quality standard for schools, helping schools to evaluate, celebrate and strengthen their arts provision through actively championing high quality arts and cultural education within their curriculum.

Over 50 per cent of schools in the borough have achieved or are working towards the Artsmark Award by incorporating art and culture into every student’s life and learning.

It is the result of a pilot project, led by St Helens Council Arts and Music Services and Curious Minds – a charity which champions creative and cultural education for children and young people across the North West region.

Artsmark registered schools in the town, supported by the Local Cultural Education Partnership, will be encouraged to build and strengthen new and existing partnerships as they continue their developmental journey.

The latest accolade tops off an excellent year for St Helens Council’s Arts and Culture Service after its Cultural Hubs: Arts in Libraries programme was crowned the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded arts project in August 2016.

This recently led to the council’s library service securing Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation status, which came with £440,000 worth of funding over the next four years.

Coun Gill Neal, portfolio holder for arts and culture, said: “We are elated to receive Artsmark Town status which is a great testimony to the hundreds of talented young people in the borough who are socially engaged in the arts.

“The council has a stated ambition to become a national centre of excellence for arts and cultural practice – and this recognition is yet another feather in our cap and string to our bow as we look to achieve this.”

Curious Minds’ Senior Manager for Programmes, Emma Bush, said: “We’re proud to have been able to support these schools with St Helens Council Arts and Music Services, to achieve this milestone.

“Take-up of Artsmark on this scale will deliver lasting change in cultural provision and learning outcomes for the children of St Helens.

“Culture and creativity increases pupils’ confidence, critical thinking, literacy skills and improves attainment. We’re delighted to see it embraced so enthusiastically by the local teaching community and hope to welcome the remaining St Helens schools to the Artsmark family.”