Director Loach backs Barnsley bid for ‘wrongs to be put right’

Ken Loach. Picture: Getty Images.
Ken Loach. Picture: Getty Images.
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Director Ken Loach has become a patron of an arts centre and culture hub in a South Yorkshire former mining town in support of its campaign to become a world-class destination for the arts by 2023.

Loach, whose 1969 film Kes was based on the novel A Kestrel for a Knave by Barnsley-born author Barry Hines, joins Sir Michael Parkinson as one of the backers of a £5m bid by The Civic in Barnsley.

The 81-year-old said in a statement: “I have very good memories of Barnsley and the people who brought Barry Hines’ story Kes to life.

“Yet what has happened to towns like Barnsley should make us angry. Provoking a strike with the miners, closing the pits and wreaking havoc in local communities was a plan carried out with ruthless efficiency.

“We have waited in vain for the wrongs to be put right. Well, things can change now.”

The Civic CEO Helen Ball said: “Kes gave Barnsley a voice and representation. It is a huge source of pride for Barnsley and part of its heritage. Ken Loach has consistently given a voice to the disenfranchised.

“He raises questions, encourages debate and challenges the status quo. This a value The Civic and Ken share, and we are incredibly proud to announce his support as one of our patrons.”

The Civic, a Grade II-listed building, has been part of Barnsley since 1877. It closed in 1998 due to maintenance difficulties and a modern extension was opened in 2009, but a third of the historic building is unoccupied and its traditional front entrance and foyer is disconnected from the rest of the building.

An arts charity which delivers a year-round arts and educational programme, it hopes to raise £5m in a public campaign to put it on the map as a globally famous arts destination in the next five years.

Sir Michael, 83, said last year that The Civic’s boost would “be part of the rebuilding if we are to regenerate these societies”.