Wakefield and Grimsby share in Government fund to help turn culture into cash

It will jointly host a summer-long celebration of sculpture that will be the biggest such event the country has seen, but Wakefield has already set its creative sights higher.

Declaring their intention of making it “the creative hub of the North” and supporting 600 new jobs in the cultural sector, the city’s elders will announce today that they have secured £4.4m of funding from a Government pot administered by the Arts Council.

The city is one of only five centres to gain access to the £20m fund. Grimsby, which wants to create a “heritage trail” using historic landmarks as stepping stones to create its port to the town centre, is another.

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The Culture Minister, Jeremy Wright, opened the bidding from local authorities and other community groups last year, inviting applications from towns and cities outside the capital that could “demonstrate cultural maturity and commitment to culture-led growth” but needed investment to realise their ambition.

The Hepworth, Wakefield. Picture by Simon Hulme

Plymouth, Worcester and the Kent Thames Estuary will get the remainder of the cash from Mr Wright’s “Cultural Development Fund”, he will announce today in Coventry, the UK’s city of culture in 2021.

In Wakefield – where the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth gallery will be among the venues for this summer’s inaugural Yorkshire Sculpture International – the money will be used to support new and established creative businesses, nurture new talent, and help create a strong creative workforce, the city council said.

The award comes just a week after The Hepworth announced that it had raised most of the £1.8m it needs to turn the barren grassland that borders it, into a riverside sanctuary to be designed by the team responsible for the Queen’s Jubilee Garden at Windsor .

The council leader, Peter Box, said Wakefield had a “clear ambition” to become a significant cultural and creative destination.

“We intend to bring together established and new creative enterprises and businesses, entrepreneurs, students and artists in an innovative, exciting new home in the city centre,” he said.

“We will boost the world renowned creative industry we already have in Wakefield, as well as creating a vibrant, culturally rich environment to attract new business and investment.

“With this funding, we move yet another step closer to Wakefield becoming known as the creative hub of the North.”

In Grimsby, a grant of £3.2m will fund a new programme of international events and public art to revive the town centre.

Mr Wright, whose Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport hopes that 1,300 jobs nationwide will be generated by funding arts and creative industries in what it termed run-down towns, said: “This is an incredible opportunity that will not only help people build careers in the arts and culture locally, but also boost wider investment and diversify the creative economy.

“Creativity, arts and heritage make our towns and cities unique and our communities better places to live.

“The Cultural Development Fund will support tailored local plans that use culture to create jobs, boost tourism and ultimately regenerate communities.”

Tim Davie, of the Creative Industries Council, said: “These awards highlight the extent to which the creative industries are now a key part of local economies.”