Photo by Darren Fleming Photography; copyright Historic England.
COMING SOON: a summer of culture on the high street
Calderdale Council and its community partner, Sowerby Bridge Fire & Water, are delighted to reveal they have been awarded a £90,000 grant from Historic England as part of the Sowerby Bridge High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) to create and deliver community-led cultural activities on the high street over the next three years.
Sowerby Bridge HSHAZ is one of more than 60 high streets to receive a share of £6 million for its cultural programme. Grants of up to £120,000 have been awarded to local arts organisations for cultural activity on each high street.
In Sowerby Bridge, ‘Soar Bridge Shine!’, the programme put together by Sowerby Bridge Shines (a consortium of the town’s cultural organisations set up in November 2020) will provide support for local artists and enterprises through cultural space Fire & Water. This will help to sustain existing local festivals and create a new community arts festival and street art opportunities.
This is part of the four-year-long High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme, led by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Cultural Programme aims to make our high streets more attractive, engaging and vibrant places for people to live, work and spend time.
The aim of Sowerby Bridge HSHAZ is to transform disused buildings, restore local historic character and improve public areas. Nearly £2 million was secured in 2020 from the Government’s HSHAZ programme, to help create more things to attract people to Sowerby Bridge during the day and improve pedestrian areas to make the high street a more pleasant place to spend time. This will include repairing and refurbishing a number of historic buildings in the town and revitalising the marketplace as a multi-purpose space for a variety of activities and events.
Soar Bridge Shine’s Why Sowerby Bridge, Why Not?(external link) film premiered in March 2021 and a new website will be launching soon to keep people updated on the exciting upcoming projects.
Cllr Jane Scullion, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Strategy, said:
“Our local heritage and culture are hugely important to the story and distinctiveness of Calderdale, and will play a significant role in our recovery from the pandemic. We’re delighted to be working with Fire & Water to revitalise and welcome people back to Sowerby Bridge’s high street. The further £90,000 from Historic England is another boost for our exciting plans. We want local people to be at the heart of these plans, so we will be creating lots of opportunities to get involved.”
Phil Hawdon from Sowerby Bridge Fire & Water said:
“Sowerby Bridge Fire & Water has been promoting performing art and interventions in the town for a number of years, mainly with its annual Winterlight street festival but also with many smaller scale events which it or its community colleagues have been more than willing to showcase.
“We were delighted to be asked to be cultural partner with Calderdale Council in the Sowerby Bridge HSHAZ project and especially delighted to be the lead partner in the Cultural Programme itself, working in collaboration with and in support of the many community groups in this remarkable town.
“We believe that the Cultural Programme, and the Hothouse Hub which it will establish at Fire & Water, could be the generator for excitement and growth in the town long after the HSHAZ programme itself has finished, drawing the whole town together and creating the means for increased opportunity and enjoyment for all its residents, putting Sowerby Bridge on the national cultural map.”
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive, Historic England, said:
“The high street cultural programme is a step change in the way we think about bringing high streets back from the brink. As we start to see these important historic spaces become regenerated through building work, it is the community-led cultural work that helps people to enjoy their high street again and also have a say in what the future of their high street might be.”
Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage MP said:
“High streets are often the heart of our communities and should be places we all want to engage with and enjoy. These grants will help transform high streets into thriving cultural hubs, encouraging us to embrace all the joys our town centres have to offer.”
To find out what is happening in your area and get involved, please follow @HistoricEngland / @HE_Yorkshire #HistoricHighStreets and visit: www.HistoricEngland.org.uk/HighStreetCulture(external link)