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St Helens Library Service and Heart of Glass receive Arts Council England funding boost

The borough's cultural scene has received a boost after St Helens Library Service and local arts organisation Heart of Glass secured more than £1.7m in national funding to continue carrying out their multi-award-winning community projects over the next three years.

Cultural Hubs

Article date: 14 December 2022

The borough's cultural scene has received a boost after St Helens Library Service and local arts organisation, Heart of Glass, secured more than £1.7m in national funding to continue carrying out their multi award-winning community projects over the next three-years.    

As part of their National Portfolio Organisations [NPO] status - awarded by Arts Council England in 2018 - St Helens Library Service and Heart of Glass were among 990 organisations to receive a share of a £446 million investment to support ACE's ambitious Let's Create strategy to bring art, culture and creativity to more people, in more places, across the country. St Helens is the only borough outside of the Liverpool in the City Region to have two NPO's and is clear evidence of the strength of the cultural sector in the borough.     

The timely announcement comes as St Helens takes on the role of the Liverpool City Region's Borough of Culture for 2023, with a programme of events planned in the new year - the theme for which will be around celebrating St Helens borough's past and building for the future.  

Speaking at the Borough of Culture handover event in Knowsley, St Helens Borough Council Leader, Cllr David Baines, publicly acknowledged the achievements of both the Heart of Glass and the Council's Library Service.  

"I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate and personally recognise those who have worked so hard to develop and submit these funding bids," Councillor Baines said.  

"We are keen to secure further support to develop the pool of cultural talent we have within the borough and to use culture as one of the key drivers for our wider regeneration programmes, including exciting plans for the iconic Gamble Building, Earlestown town hall, Cannington Shaw and the World of Glass."  

During the past year alone, St Helens Library Service - one of only 16 library services to be awarded NPO status by the Arts Council this year - has delivered a diverse range of activities as part of its award-winning Arts in Libraries: Cultural Hubs programme which has engaged with over 20,000 audiences in the arts since 2018 through a mixture of theatre performances, exhibitions and workshops in libraries across the borough.    

Following a competitive application bid process, £708,927 has been secured to allow the library service to deliver a Creative Lives programme to encourage children, young people and adults of all ages to get involved in creative activity at grassroots level - and continue offering opportunities for St Helens- based creatives, such as showcasing their work and supporting emerging artists, as well as bringing high-class touring theatre and arts from across the country to be enjoyed by St Helens residents.    

Heart of Glass succeeded in maintaining its NPO funding to continue its mission of 'art everywhere for everyone'. The funding allows the social arts charity to continue to grow exciting new art programmes and develop long term projects with diverse communities across St Helens, Knowsley, the city region and beyond.   

Welcoming the funding, Councillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage, said: "For two local organisations, including our council-run St Helens Library Service, to come away with a significant amount of funding from what was a highly-competitive process speaks volumes of the faith Arts Council England has in the work being undertaken in the borough to grow the cultural sector here and is most welcome during these challenging times.    

 "It was noted by Arts Council England how St Helens Library Service scores strongly in their vision for Let's Create by improving access to a full range of cultural opportunities wherever people live and this funding will allow our Cultural Hubs programme to carry on going from strength to strength by delivering an accessible, diverse and imaginative programme of work to introduce event more residents to the world of arts and culture."    

 Patrick Fox, Chief Executive, Heart of Glass, said:    

"We extend our huge thanks to Arts Council for their continued support and belief in our work. Likewise, to all the amazing artists, partner organisations and community collaborators who are on this creative journey with us. We couldn't do it without a whole network of people, and we're excited to be working with the people of St Helens on exciting new projects for 2023 and beyond."