St Helens' year as Borough of Culture officially underway after successful launch event
St Helens' year as the Liverpool City Region's Borough of Culture got off to a flying start after a successful launch event at the World of Glass, attended by almost 3,000 during the course of the day.
Borough of Culture was launched by Mayor of Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, in 2018 as part of his 1% for Culture initiative, which commits to investing 1% of the Combined Authority's budget directly into culture and creativity. The title rotates around the areas that make up Liverpool City Region, with this being St Helens' second time since its inaugural year.
As part of the launch event, attended by a number of dignitaries including councillors; local MPs; Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor and guests over from Germany for the 75th anniversary of St Helens' town twinning partnership with Stuttgart - The World of Glass was a hive of artistic activity, with performances from local breakdancing group, UC Crew; St Helens singers and a family-friendly cabaret show among the acts to entertain the crowds.
As a nod to St Helens' rich cultural heritage in glassmaking, there was also glassblowing demonstrations throughout the day - and local artists and groups could find out how to apply for grant funding to carry out projects throughout the year.
Between now and the end of the year, a packed programme of events will get underway for residents to enjoy, in line with the theme of celebrating our past and building our future.
Recognising some of the cultural and diverse figures and groups who represent St Helens impeccably on a national and global scale, St Helens Borough Council Leader, David Baines, used his Borough of Culture speech as an opportunity to announce that Saints captain, James Roby; darts world champion, Michael Smith; Marie Rimmer CBE, MP and the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment have all been nominated for Freedom of the Borough status, the highest award a council can give.
St Helens Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Communities and Culture, Councillor Anthony Burns, said: "It's been a terrific launch event and it was great to see The World of Glass packed out. We've got a full programme of events where people can come and celebrate what's good about St Helens and the culture and heritage, all built around our motto (celebrating our past and building our future) but what we wanted it to be as well is about community inclusions; we wanted to include all the communities across the borough and that's why we're proud to offer the grants allocations - funding pots available for artists and groups to apply for to put on their own events and projects to help celebrate the borough's culture.
"Borough of Culture is all about celebrating our culture and diversity - bigging up the town and being proud of where we're from. We've got some good artistic events out there but some community ones too, so people should come out to support and get involved."
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: "This is a brilliant opportunity for St Helens. The idea of Borough of Culture is to give the five areas that form the Liverpool City Region the opportunity to showcase all that they have in regards to the vibrant cultures in those areas and this year, we're going to have a programme that celebrates St Helens.
"The main thing that it will tease-out for local people just some of the things that they may take for granted in terms of cultural and visitor attractions on their doorstep and make them more aware of their own cultural heritage."
For more information, including a full events programme, visit: www.culturesthelens.co.uk