Barra Culture is a brand new programme for Barrow, due to get underway on 1st November this year.

The Barra Culture team is made up of local people and organisations who love Barrow and what it means to live, work, create and socialise in the Cumbrian town.

Rebecca Rawlings, Senior Officer of Women’s Community Matters and Lead Partner Organisation of Barra Culture, said: “We are so very excited to be part of this wonderful Arts Council programme. To get to this point has been a huge collective effort and we are looking forward to working alongside the community and a range of artists to bring to fruition our plan for Barrow to be the next cultural destination on the map.” 

Jane Beardsworth, Senior Relationship Manager, Arts Council England, said: “Congratulations to Barrow on being awarded Creative People and Places funding for their Barra Culture project. Barrow as a town has a strong identity which is at the heart of the Barra Culture. I look forward to seeing the great work that comes out of the project and to seeing the people of Barrow engaging in art and culture taking place in their local communities.” 

The next 4 years of exciting opportunities and change is thanks to a successful bid to Arts Council England who have awarded £1,930,691 to Barra Culture. Arts Council England are investing £17.5 million of National Lottery funds in new Creative People and Places projects across England.  Barrow is one of the 12 areas who have been awarded a grant and who will also benefit from all the additional support and experience the Arts Council brings.  

One of the first tasks for the Barra Culture team will be to recruit a new staff Director and managers to lead the Programme over the next 4 years and beyond.

“The Director will need to have an understanding of the uniqueness and complexity of this place and its amazing people”, said Maddi Nicholson, Art Gene Director and member of the Barra Culture team.

Godfrey Owen, CEO of Brathay Trust and another member of the Barra Culture team is keen to stress that:

“Our plan from the outset is that this Programme will change the way Barrovians, as well as others, view the town. We can see Barrow becoming a cultural destination and that is really exciting for us all”.

The Barra Culture team is made up of Women’s Community Matters, Brathay Trust, Natural England, Art Gene, Signal Film and Media, Full of Noises, and Ashton Group Theatre, as well as Cumbria Libraries, and Barrow Borough Council.  The most important thing about the programme for the team is that it will grow alongside the community.  Hundreds of local people and artists helped develop the bid by providing their thoughts and views, helped to come up with a name for the programme, and demonstrated a huge passion for our town. If you are one of those people, “we did it!” and we hope you feel as big a part of the success as we do.  

“In giving this award to Barrow, Arts Council England are recognising that there is skill and talent here and that although many folk are already engaged with the arts, many, many more can and will do in the future because here in Barrow we have huge potential,”  added Rachel Ashton, Ashton Group Theatre.

Watch this space for information and updates as we work to get ready to start in November and begin to share all the opportunities for everyone to be involved in shaping what activities and experiences are available for the whole community. We will be launching social media as the programme starts and hope everyone can post their ideas, photos and creations on there for us all to see and enjoy. Barrovians, and all the very many lovely honorary Barrovians, have the most wonderful ideas and creative minds.  

“This Programme will offer the opportunity for us all to work alongside some fabulous world class artists and creators who can help us translate these ideas into creative pieces for others to enjoy and learn from”, Glenn Boulter, Artistic Director Full of Noises and part of the Barra Culture team.

“One of the fabulous things about the Programme is that it celebrates the many different strands of arts and culture and we hope that means that there will really be something for everyone. I am looking forward to all of it”, Kerry Kolbe, Co-Director Signal Film and Media and Barra Culture team member.

If you want to find out more as the work progresses, like our Facebook page, Barrow Creative People and Places (soon to be renamed Barra Culture) where we will post updates and lots of other opportunities to get involved.

The last word goes to Ann Thomson, Leader of Barrow Borough Council, who on hearing the news had the following to say,
“This really is the most marvellous news for our wonderful town. I am a proud Barrovian and love all the wonderful places and people that make Barrow our home. Barrow Borough Council are committed to supporting the Programme by offering the use of its venues including, the Dock Museum, Barrow Park, the Forum, and our beautiful Town Hall, as well as the support of its staff and councillors.  I hope everyone gets involved and I am looking forward to seeing the smiles on all the faces of everyone taking part in all the different things that will be organised.”

Members of the Barra Culture team celebrate the success of the Arts Council bid

Creative People and Places

Arts Council England is investing £17.5 million of National Lottery funds in 12 new Creative People and Places projects across England. These projects will create arts experiences for, by and with local communities where people tend to engage less with arts and culture.

The twelve projects are based in places brand new to the Creative People and Places network – four are based in the North, three in the Midlands, two in the South East, two in London and one in the South West, who join the network for the first time.

In response to the incredibly strong applications received for this round, Arts Council England  allocated an additional £5million to the budget from their National Lottery contingency, helping more people in more places benefit from this programme.

Three million people have taken part in Creative People and Places projects across 21 different locations since 2012. These projects have already worked with over 800 local partners to put creativity at the heart of the community, including a haulage firm and housing association.

Find out more about Creative People and Places here

Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. 

Visit Art Council England's website here