[C]umbria Local Enterprise Partnership, the county’s economic body, has welcomed the news that its submission to a £15m Government fund aimed at showcasing the north of England has proved successful.
The £3.29 million World Heritage Lake District proposal – an ambitious multi-venue arts project – is one of just three projects across the north to win Government backing via the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.
Bid leaders Lakeland Arts and the Wordsworth Trust have proposed a package of transformative capital investment encompassing high quality cultural and heritage assets at three venues – Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories; Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum, Grasmere; and Kendal’s Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Museum.
Windermere Jetty will create a new, accessible and sustainable museum on Windermere’s shores, including the creation of a high quality permanent exhibition; a temporary exhibition space to house creative responses to the collection; a combined project space for learning, artist commissions, residencies and community projects in the Old Fire Station and grounds; and landscaping across the site to ensure access to the iconic surrounding landscape.
Reimagining Wordsworth will transform the Wordsworth Museum, which holds the finest collection of Wordsworth’s manuscripts anywhere in the world. It will create a new gallery for special exhibitions and a community gallery for local artists, community groups and young people to showcase their work. A rooftop viewing station will enable visitors to connect Wordsworth’s poetry to the landscape that inspired him. People of all ages and abilities will be able to take part in year-round events and workshops in a new learning centre.
Abbot Hall is home to one of the region’s most significant visual arts collections and a dynamic programme of exhibitions of modern and contemporary arts set against major historical pieces. The museum will undergo vital refurbishment across its main galleries; found a new project space for exhibitions and artist residencies, community projects and workshops; and achieve full accessibility across the buildings and site.
Eleven LEP areas across Northern England had been invited to bid for a share of the fund, which Government hopes will build on the impact of this summer’s Great Exhibition of the North in Newcastle and Gateshead.
The other successful bids are from Lancashire LEP (Blackpool ‘Amuseum’) and Leeds City Region LEP (Bradford Odeon).
Cumbria LEP Director Graham Haywood said: “The World Heritage Lake District project has the potential to make a significant impact in terms of arts, culture and attracting visitors to Cumbria. We are delighted to have been successful with our bid and it is a tribute to the hard work put in to the application by Cumbria LEP and our partners.”
Joe Broomfield, Rural and Visitor Economy lead for Cumbria LEP, added: “It’s great to see to see that the work put into this bid by Cumbria LEP, Lakeland Arts and The Wordsworth Trust has paid off. £3.29 million of capital funding represents a significant investment in the Cumbrian visitor economy and will enable us to deliver a range of high quality improvements across the three project sites.”
Government intends that successful bids will encourage sustainable cultural and creative regeneration in the North of England and benefit areas that have historically had low levels of cultural and creative investment.
In a joint statement, Gordon Watson, Chief Executive of Lakeland Arts, and Michael McGregor, The Robert Woof Director of the Wordsworth Trust, said: “We are absolutely delighted that this application to the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund has been successful.
“World Heritage Lake District is a truly transformational project. It will bring significant benefits to Cumbria’s communities and boost cultural tourism, as well as developing skills and creating new permanent jobs.
“Above all, it celebrates Cumbria as an internationally significant cultural landscape. It is fitting that this announcement comes just a few days before the official unveiling of a plaque commemorating the Lake District’s designation as a World Heritage Site.”
Cumbria Tourism’s managing director, Gill Haigh, warmly welcomed the government’s announcement, adding: “The multi-venue arts investment will help further cement the county’s international and national reputation for high quality culture and heritage, offering visitors even more compelling ways to explore and experience our world class landscape through the arts.”
Councillor James Airey, the Conservative group leader on Cumbria County Council said: “This is great news for our area and our campaign to make sure jobs and prosperity are the top priority for South Lakeland.”