Rochdale secures £4.2 million from government’s cultural heritage fund

Date published: 24 May 2022

Rochdale has been awarded a grant of £4.2 million by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, delivered by Arts Council England.

Galleries, museums, libraries and cultural venues across the country are to benefit from almost £50 million of government funding to improve people’s access to the arts, safeguard cultural assets for future generations and power economic growth through culture.

The funding will enable the development of a cultural improvement district in Rochdale town centre, incorporating existing assets, new creative spaces and environmental improvements including paving, landscaping and lighting across Rochdale Town Hall Square making a new pedestrianised public space.

The award will also fund new public art, branding, signage and marketing to improve the visitor experience, better connecting commercial, residential and heritage areas.

Touchstones, the borough’s arts and heritage venue located in the historic old library building will undergo a major renovation, being transformed into a flagship visual arts-led creative and cultural hub with new flexible performance and production spaces, improved areas for training, events and exhibitions.

It will also get a new retail and catering offer, along with improvements to displays, archives, collections and public access to bring the building into the 21st century.

Building on Rochdale’s place in history as the birthplace of the global co-operative movement the funding will also bring a range of diverse cultural assets and groups together to tell a more powerful story, with events and cultural activities across the borough.

Councillor Sue Smith, cabinet member for communities and co-operation, said: “This funding means we can take forward our exciting plans for a new Rochdale Cultural District, bringing together our outstanding heritage and cultural assets to attract more visitors, create new opportunities for residents and to complement the growing town centre retail, food and leisure offer.

“We will also be creating a new cultural partnership to develop and deliver more projects across the borough, increasing opportunities for residents, creatives and creative businesses.”

Estelle Rowe, deputy CEO and director of finance at Your Trust added: “This investment will preserve and enhance our beautiful museum and gallery, helping it to move to a new and exciting chapter in its history.

“Touchstones is where all members of our community can express their creativity. The building refurbishment and creation of a cultural hub will enable us to create even more opportunities for the people of the borough to enjoy culture in all its shapes and forms.

“We welcome the recognition by Arts Council England that our borough is a place where culture can make a huge difference to people from all walks of life and of all ages.”

The Cultural Development Fund aims to give people access to arts and culture in areas with historically low levels of cultural engagement and boost economic growth.

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