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National arts status boost to Borough of Culture plans

Fostering artistic talent across the borough will be the focus of St Helens Borough Council's Library Service.

Cultural Hubs Grandad Anansi

Councillors conditionally accepted the offer of £708,927 from Arts Council England's National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status to help it deliver its Arts in Libraries: Cultural Hubs programme at Cabinet after successfully bidding to extend the programme after it was first made an NPO in 2018.

The success means that the work the service does will play an important role in the Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture for 2023 events taking place across St Helens Borough under the theme of celebrating our past and building for the future.

The funding will be used to create three new jobs in the arts in our borough to further support and showcase work by St Helens based creatives.

The focus for the first year will be on working to showcase work by St Helens based creatives and communities as part of the Borough of Culture. Alongside this there will also be support for the Creative Underground arts and heritage project funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and a programme of visiting and touring work including partnerships with Dadadfest, St Helens based Heart of Glass, Homotopia, Lakes International Comic Arts Festival and Wonder Arts.

Cabinet heard how the projects being chosen to benefit will include targeting those in our communities who are not as likely to engage with services such as weekly creative writing sessions aimed at supporting those living with mental health issues and weekly family art sessions to bring together refugee and asylum seeker families with others in their community to bond through creative sessions.

It will also see the continuation of Creative Alternatives which offers art on prescription, which is commissioned by Public Health to support people with depression and anxiety among other conditions.

Focus will also go on supporting young people with creative sessions taking place in schools and libraries, alongside seminars, workshops and more with visiting artists working with schools and colleges in the borough.

Councillor Anthony Burns, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Communities and Culture, said: "This national recognition for our Arts in Libraries service through not only regaining NPO status but increasing the funding from our 2018 bid shows that the service is delivering creative opportunities for our residents. This year all eyes are on us for our Borough of Culture and this service is at the forefront of working with our residents and the focus for the future for us is to engage those harder to reach groups to see the possibilities that art can bring to your life."