Mid Pennine Arts (MPA) has announced substantial new funding from Arts Council England, with the arts charity confirming plans for two major new artist commissions in the successful Contemporary Heritage series.

The new investment brings £65,000 into this strategic programme of commissions, intended to show off key heritage destinations and to boost cultural tourism within Lancashire. Contemporary Heritage is also supported by Arts Council England through Grants for the Arts, Lancashire County Council’s museum service and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council Museums.

Newcastle-based international artist Catherine Bertola will work with local residents to devise a new installation for Gawthorpe Hall, the National Trust property in Padiham. In addition, MPA have also confirmed the Manchester-based artist collective Owl Project will create an original work for Turton Tower near Blackburn. Owl Project created the North-East contribution to the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

MPA Creative Director Nick Hunt said: “This new investment allows us to stay ambitious and to bring artists of the highest quality to our area. By attracting leading lights of the Cultural Olympiad, we can bring more attention, more visitors and some extra excitement to our cultural scene. And while we contribute to the visitor economy, we also spotlight our county, and two of Lancashire’s very special places.”

Along with other arts organisations throughout Lancashire, MPA has felt the impact of the deep funding cuts announced by Arts Council England in 2011, and it is no longer guaranteed regular funding. Other Lancashire organisations have closed down as a result, including Prescap in Preston and Folly in Lancaster.

MPA, however, has committed to a programme of change and renewal, determined to survive and thrive after 46 continuous years of serving the communities of Pennine Lancashire. In 2012 the charity acquired limited company status and established a new board of trustees, and is diversifying its range of projects, with programmes for young people supported by a range of funders including Lottery sources such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and Youth Music.

Since 2010, the Contemporary Heritage series has attracted new and returning audiences to some of Pennine Lancashire’s key heritage destinations. Major new works commissioned from artists of national and international standing have resulted in tens of thousands of visitors to Towneley Hall & Park, Clitheroe Castle and Helmshore Mills Textile Museum.

Councillor Damian Talbot, Executive for Culture, Leisure and Young People, said: “Receiving this investment from the Arts Council is brilliant news for Mid Pennine Arts as well as Turton Tower and Gawthorpe Hall. Given the challenges currently faced by MPA, hopefully this new funding will showcase the cultural offerings of Lancashire to a wider audience.”

For more information visit www.midpenninearts.org.uk

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