St Helens has been named first Borough of Culture by the Liverpool city region, as part of its new culture programme.
The honour coincides with St Helens celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
Under the 1% for Culture Programme, Liverpool City Region has become the first in the country to commit to spending the equivalent of 1% of its annual £30 million devolution funding from government to support cultural activities.
These activities will include:
- £200k to support an annual Borough of Culture programme, with St Helens named as the first Borough of Culture. The title will be held on a rotating basis by all of the Combined Authority’s constituent local authorities.
- £30k allocated for the Liverpool City Region Cultural Awards. Additional funding will be acquired for the awards through developing sponsorship opportunities.
- £70k allocated for the development and delivery of region wide events (themed to celebrate and highlight the city region)
Speaking about the announcement, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “It is particularly fitting that St Helens should become our first Borough of Culture this year, as they celebrate their 150th anniversary. I know they have a very exciting programme of cultural events planned for the year ahead.
“In my manifesto I talked about the value of culture to the success of the Liverpool City Region. I believe that culture and creativity are integral to our international profile and brand and integral to achieving the vision for a prosperous, fair and exciting place to live, work and invest. The Borough of Culture celebrations are just one element of boosting culture and creativity across the whole of the city region.”
Coun Barrie Grunewald, leader of St Helens Council said: "This is brilliant news and particularly appropriate that St Helens should be the first Borough of Culture in our 150th year.
"St Helens has a growing reputation as a centre of excellence for arts and culture with both the Heart of Glass and St Helens Libraries Cultural Hubs programmes in the Art Council Englands National Portfolio.
"Our programme of arts and cultural events for 2018 will strengthen this further as it reflects on the history and heritage of the town, but also celebrates our innovation, ingenuity and culture."
CounPhil Davies, Leader of Wirral Council, and Combined Authority Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Culture, said:
“Culture is an essential driver in stimulating creative entrepreneurialism and is also instrumental in generating substantial growth for local, regional and national economies.
“I am very proud that as a Combined Authority we have adopted a really ambitious strategy for growing the culture and creative sector across the Liverpool City Region.
“The Borough of Culture programme, backed with funding of £200,000 per year from the Combined Authority, is a key part of the strategy, and I am sure that St Helens will get us off to a flying start.”
Events planned for St Helens year as Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture include:
- Westfield Music Festival on Sunday 3rd June
- St Helens Day Citizen's Parade on Saturday 30th June
- International Food & Drink Festival on Friday 6th & Saturday 7th July
- In the Street Festival on 11th August
The 1% for Culture programme is one strand of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Culture and Creativity Strategy.
Developed following extensive consultation across the city region’s six boroughs, the Strategy outlines three key aims:
- Expanding and promoting the existing cultural and creative offer as a core part of a growing visitor economy alongside more targeted creative social intervention.
- Developing a supply chain for talent and harnessing the region’s strengths as a ‘pool of talent’ with pathways into the creative sectors.
- Sustaining and enhancing economic growth through culture and creativity; recognising and investing in culture and creativity as major drivers in the visitor economy and creative industries, and as catalysts to achieve positive outcomes in wellbeing, health, education, cohesion and the future world of work.