Arts council chief makes visit to area

Part of the evening reception at The Stump.
Part of the evening reception at The Stump.

The head of a Government-backed body which invests millions into the arts has visited Boston.

The chief executive of the Arts Council, Darren Henley, came to Lincolnshire recently for an event exploring the case for investment in arts and culture in rural areas.

Darren Henley, chief executive of Art Council England. Picture: John Aron

Darren Henley, chief executive of Art Council England. Picture: John Aron

Dubbed Cultivating Our Future in Common, the day celebrated the success of North Kesteven’s art service artsNK and the Transported Creative People and Places Project in Boston and South Holland. Both artsNK and Transported receive funds from the Arts Council, with the Creative People and Places Project being one of 21 schemes nationwide funded by the Arts Council to get more people involved in the arts where they live.

Alongside the celebrations, the event aimed to explore the need to identify new forms of investment for rural arts and culture in challenging times when budgets are often tight.

The days featured meetings in Sleaford, which included representatives from North Kesteven, Boston, and South Holland’s local authorities, as well as business leaders from the area, and culminated with an evening reception at St Botolph’s Church, in Boston.

The reception showcased some of the achievements of artsNK and Transported, with displays and performances from artists, community and voluntary arts groups, and participants from some of their projects.

Mr Henley brought the day to a close with a speech sharing some of the outcomes of the meetings and discussing how arts can flourish in rural areas in the future, referencing sustainability and collaboration.

Speaking after the event, he said: “It was great to visit Lincolnshire and see first-hand how our investment in arts and culture connects a place, its people and its history and how that support can rejuvenate communities, inspire civic pride and attract new jobs. There is a real ambition across Lincolnshire to see the county as a thriving cultural destination. There is so much for people to discover and enjoy. As the national development agency for art and culture, it is the Arts Council’s job to help make this a reality.”

He said Transported was giving the people of Boston and South Holland ‘the chance to decide what art they want’, adding: “It’s crucial to the way a place is perceived - and how people who live there perceive themselves.

“Of course we cannot do this alone. Partnerships are vital, and often extend beyond culture and tourism to include other businesses, the local authority, higher education and others, and where these exist great things can happen.”

Nick Jones, visual arts manager at artsNK and director at Transported said: “There was something very special about residents and project participants from the three areas having their work and creativity recognised and applauded by the chief executive of the Arts Council.”