Category Archives: Tourism

Local Children help Artists on Preston’s new Greenway

The Preston to Bamber Bridge Greenway has seen additional development over the last few weeks through the installation of three sculptures. Commissioned by Mid Pennine Arts, artists Martin Maudsley and John Packer developed a creative engagement programme that engaged the local communities and school children surrounding the Greenway through workshops and events which took place last year.

Two of the sculptures are educational pieces based on train couplings, reflecting the history of the area. These have been engraved with poetry from the children who participated in the school engagement programme, led by artist Martin Maudsley. The children from St Mary Magdalen’s Catholic Primary and Middleforth C of E Primary School, spent time on the Greenway discovering natural and historical elements of the site through sensory walks and collecting objects for drawing. The poetry was a result of their experiences and what the Greenway meant to them. The pieces have magnifying and fish eye lenses incorporated into the couplings to allow the surroundings to be viewed more closely.

The third sculpture took the form of seating. With the aid of artist John Packer, pupils from Lostock Hall Community High School & Arts College interpreted the ideas of the primary school children and developed them into designs. The end result was seating based loosely on leaf designs.

All three pieces have been built by John and can be found along the main route into Preston and around the Whitehouse Junction Nature Reserve area of the Greenway. The main access points of the Greenway are Avenham Park, Leyland Road opposite the fire station and Factory Lane after the junction with Old Tram Road.

Development of the Greenway initially began in 2010 and saw the disused railway line turned into a multi user Greenway suitable for walking and cycling. The area was surfaced creating a path suitable for outdoor activities and the route, which is open to the public, now forms part of the National Cycle Network.

Helen Yates, Mid Pennine Arts Community and Projects Officer said, “These sculptures add to the offering of the Greenway making it an even more exciting and inviting place to spend the afternoon walking and cycling. It will also encourage schools to use the Greenway as a new learning environment.”

The Last Word

Our Creative Director, Nick Hunt, was invited to write the ‘Last Word’ column for the latest edition of Arts Professional (find it here).

Excitement mounts chez nous as we contemplate a June break, and a first visit to Musiques Metisses, the long-running boutique festival that celebrates the French bonds to West Africa and other global music hotspots. We do it on our own doorstep, too. When we drove into Manchester last week to see the stupendous Portuguese fado singer Mariza, we were being music tourists. Feargal Sharkey is exactly right: “Music provides a huge boost to UK tourism, it drives growth, it sustains thousands of jobs across all regions”. Except it’s not just music, it’s our vibrant contemporary arts. It’s culture that drives tourism in this rainy island. And it is a powerhouse for the economy. Even the Prime Minister knows it.

Last summer, David Cameron gave a keynote speech on tourism, driving home its vital importance to the UK economy and ‘the recovery’. His choice of venue told you everything that he knows but may not acknowledge… Not a museum, a resort or a stately home, but the Serpentine Gallery’s temporary pavilion, the latest in a crazily ambitious series of commissions from leading-edge architects which has been a triumph of vision and ambition – and of cultural tourism. David Cameron seems somehow to grasp this, but the tragedy is that his government does not walk the walk.

So now we plunge into the perfect storm of cuts – arts councils, local authorities, and, worst of all, the abolition of the regional development agencies and their huge strategic programmes. Few cultural projects will get a sniff of the miniscule Regional Growth Fund that replaces them. As architect David Chipperfield unveils his second temple of modern culture in six weeks, maybe we have enough infrastructure now? Perhaps we can just get along, from here on…Well, no. The cogs of the cultural powerhouse need to keep turning. And some of the first effects of it grinding to a halt are seen in the sad scenario of plummeting numbers of earning opportunities for individual artists. Much of this will be due to the abrupt halt to public investment in regeneration and regional development. And surely this can only be exacerbated by the number of public realm commissioners omitted from the new Arts Council England (ACE) portfolio. If the artists are not being sustained now, we will all feel the effects later on.

Meanwhile, the ACE/Turning Point report suggests that visual arts organisations need to strengthen their business models and enhance their ‘sustainability’. But is this reasonable, when so often the real profit and loss account is in the world outside? Turner Contemporary, for example, will not ultimately be judged on how much it earns, but on whether it transforms future prospects for Margate. A tall order, but if anyone can do it…

All power, then, to Gulbenkian for an award shortlist with real wow factor – and evidence that outstanding work can spring from the most disadvantaged communities. Why not invest in them all, Gulbenkian? You know it makes sense. And then there is Culture + Conflict. Michaela Crimmin’s initiative and the other case studies leave me awestruck. It is humbling to realise how much tougher things can be, and how, still, art can rise to the challenge. In the week when Ai Weiwei has finally been glimpsed, alive and well, we must be grateful for small mercies.

This week Nick will cross to the Dark Side (Yorkshire) to marvel at the opening of The Hepworth. But why should Wakefield have two world-beaters? At least both Hepworth and Yorkshire Sculpture Park are showcasing young Lancashire artists – Halima Cassell and Rebecca Chesney.

Nick Hunt is Creative Director of Mid Pennine Arts and a member of the Culture Forum