District Council backs belief in the power of arts and culture

Posted on: Friday, March 25, 2022

Arts and culture has been one of the sectors of the economy hit hardest by the pandemic. Following the Government’s announcement in March 2020, Newark saw its Palace Theatre, National Civil War Centre and Newark Castle all closed to members of the public. While these services adapted over the following two year period, some helping isolated and vulnerable residents to maintain their sense of community through online projects, our much-loved attractions experienced significant challenges.

Now, channelling a strong belief in the power of arts and culture, the District Council is doing all it can to enable these cultural treasures to continue to come back stronger than ever and to grow new ways for the town’s heritage to be enjoyed and appreciated. 

As the country seeks to recover from the pandemic’s profound impacts on aspects of the economy, our finances and communities, arts and culture funding opportunities are being maximised to support local culture and to help deliver aspirations and objectives set out within the District Council’s Community Plan.

Councillor David Lloyd, Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “There has never been more passion to secure the heritage of our town centre in a way that crosses over with visitor experience, events and attractions. We are working in close partnership with cultural organisations, the local voluntary sector and charity groups to deliver not just support, but a remarkable aspiration for our heritage, arts and culture which will benefit our residents and increase visitor numbers”.

The £4.6m Castle Gatehouse project (part funded by a £2.6m Towns Fund successful bid submission, a £1m contribution from the District Council and a hopeful £1.3m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund) will transform the Castle into an outstanding visitor attraction, shining a light on the town’s significant and important heritage and drawing tourists to the area.

It is also hoped that the District Council’s Heritage and Culture offer, encapsulating the Palace Theatre and National Civil War Centre, will become a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO). These are organisations invested in by Arts Council England and seen as leaders in their areas, with a collective responsibility to protect and develop national arts and cultural ecology. If successful, this could bring an estimated £300,000 per annum of new funding over the next three years as well as continuing to elevate the offer on a national level.

Initiatives including the Towns Fund Cultural Heart project and the High Streets Heritage Action Zone Cultural Consortium Programme also seek to re-purpose and re-imagine Newark Town Centre with its culture and heritage at the fore.

Additionally, Newark and Sherwood has been placed on the Levelling Up for Culture priority places list, a selection of areas in which the Arts Council is committing to increasing funding where possible.  

All of the above – the need to recover, to re-think, re-purpose and re-develop the local heritage and cultural offer is being backed by the District Council who are delivering the National Portfolio Organisation bid, the Castle Gatehouse and the Heritage Action Zone Cultural Consortium Programme. The potential for successful applications here and longer term is a key component of delivering a re-imagined town centre experience, based upon increased visitors and footfall and new economic benefits.