Monthly Archives: November 2010

Mid Pennine Arts Relocates to Burnley’s Weavers’ Triangle

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1 Neptune Street is the white building

MID PENNINE Arts, the regional arts charity has this week completed a move to new offices in the heart of Burnley’s historic Weavers’ Triangle. The organisation’s arrival coincides with fresh moves to kickstart the long-awaited rebirth of the unique heritage area.

Mid Pennine Arts has built a reputation for innovative art projects that have attracted international attention to Pennine Lancashire – most notably the Panopticons including Burnley’s Singing Ringing Tree, Pendle’s Atom, Rossendale’s Halo and Blackburn’s Colourfields. The organisation is especially committed to celebrating the unique heritage of the area, and sees the canalside Weaver’s Triangle as a prime location for doing this.

Mid Pennine Arts aims to break out of the traditional gallery setting, and to take creative projects directly to a wider audience. The new office base is shared with green energy providers the Low Carbon Energy Company in a new partnership for both parties. The base will also provide a platform for creative work with partner organisations, schools and community groups, to start to breathe life back into a townscape that has long lain dormant.

Nick Hunt, Creative Director for Mid Pennine Arts, said: “The Weavers’ Triangle is hugely important for the future of Burnley and Pennine Lancashire. It celebrates our industrial past, and points to a brighter future. This move reinforces our commitment to highlighting our heritage with bold, contemporary art. Already this autumn we have launched the Contemporary Heritage programme in partnership with Towneley Hall, and this new series of big, cutting edge art commissions will soon provide a fresh view of other key heritage venues across Pennine Lancashire. Alongside those projects, moving into the Weavers’ Triangle makes perfect sense for Mid Pennine Arts and we are very excited about the future, as we reach out to new audiences and aim to put art at the heart of Burnley’s renaissance.”

“Mid Pennine Arts has been based at Burnley Mechanics since the opening of the building. This has been a long and happy association and we are very grateful to our partners at Burnley Borough Council for all their support. Now we want to work with the Council in breathing new life into the Weavers’ Triangle. We also look forward to a ground-breaking new partnership with the Low Carbon Energy Company.”

Mike Cook, Burnley Council’s Director of Regeneration and Housing, said: ‘This is good news for Mid Pennine Arts, for the Weavers’ Triangle, and for Burnley. It’s an important statement of confidence in the area’s future and in the aspirations we and our partners have for genuine transformation of the town’s historic industrial heart. On behalf of the Council, I’d like to wish them the very best in their new home.’

The arrival of Mid Pennine Arts coincides with moves by Burnley Borough Council to attract private sector developers to take on key sites clustered around the Sandygate development area. The canalside open space opposite Slater Terrace has been agreed as a future new public space, with an exciting new design selected through the recent Pennine Lancashire Squared design competition. This month the Council is ‘greening’ the area that will become Sandygate Square with an attractive temporary treatment to provide a glimpse of this brighter future.

In spite of economic gloom, these initiatives show the future starting to take shape for the Weavers’ Triangle. Mid Pennine Arts, working alongside partners like the Borough Council and the Prince’s Charities, is aiming to lead the way.

Arts Council Funding Announcements: Our View

By Nick Hunt, Creative Director: Mid Pennine Arts

There have been reports in the local press about the arts funding decisions. The reports are factually accurate, but give a quite distorted view of the mood of the moment amongst arts organisations. All our colleagues in Pennine Lancashire arts companies have been expecting cuts, and planning for them. We know that we will have to take our share of the coming austerity. The Arts Council had advised us to plan for 10% less funding. This is what we were expecting for next year. So it may sound strange to say so, but this week’s news is good news!

The Arts Council is taking a deep cut, but has managed to insulate most of the organisations it regularly supports from the full effect of that. They have also given us comfort by confirming funding for 2011/12 very quickly, at an early stage, so we have a secure year and a half, in which to make plans for a tougher time ahead. On both these counts they have done well by their client companies, and we are grateful to them.

The reports also make it sound like Mid Pennine Arts is the big loser here. Again that gives a false impression. The cut is a standard 6.9% across all client companies. So MPA takes the biggest hit simply because we are the biggest client in Pennine Lancashire. We will continue to receive the largest investment, and in the current climate we are very grateful for that. It represents £175k of inward investment into the economy of Pennine Lancashire, and we will work harder than ever to multiply its value to our local communities.

There are plenty of aspects of the government cuts to be very gloomy about, including today’s news about the Housing Market Renewal programme being stopped dead in its tracks. MPA has had the chance to do some terrific work with Elevate/ Regenerate in HMR areas, and we know what a blow this is for those neighbourhoods.

But the arts funding news means that some brilliant local companies can stop the sleepless nights for a while, and can plan ahead to continue making a big contribution to the lives of our local communities. The glass is at least half full!