Good news for Wisbech as artist colony project gets a £19,000 boost for what MP describes as ‘very innovative scheme’

MP Steve Barclay MP Steve Barclay

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
1:36 PM

Wisbech is set to become home to an artist colony after a pilot art project was given a £19,000 grant.

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MP Steve Barclay, who made improvement to arts provision in this area a priority when he was first elected, has welcomed the news.

He has campaigned on the issue, raising the matter in the House of Commons and lobbying the Arts Council.

“When I first got elected I started to look into what arts funding Fenland had received and what sort of provision there was in the area. I was horrified to learn that in fact Fenland had received no arts funding, and that there was very little provision.

“I have been working alongside Father Paul West at St Peter’s Church in Wisbech to change that situation, and so I am delighted that Aid & Abet’s bid for a grant has been successful. It is only £19,000, but it is a major step forward and the proposed project will be a real asset to Wisbech, and Fenland as a whole.

“Because the grant has come from the Arts Council England, as well as partly from Cambridgeshire County Council, the project will have national recognition. It is a very innovative scheme, which will hopefully prove hugely successful in putting Fenland on the map when it comes to the arts. This will obviously help us when it comes to future funding bids,” said Mr Barclay.

Father Paul West, who was instrumental in helping put the bid together, has already been running an arts project at the church thanks to funding through the Archbishop’s Project Scheme.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted. We have been given funding for a pilot scheme in Wisbech which will bring artists to live and work in the town. They will be creating art based on the town and the surrounding area.

“They will also work with young people and will hopefully inspire a generation. The pilot scheme will start in September and it will have national recognition because of the Arts Council funding. It is very exciting and means Fenland will have one of the only artists’ colonies in the country. It is a big project that will hopefully change many attitudes, and give people a more positive view of Wisbech.”

A spokesman for Arts Council England said: “We’re delighted the Aid & Abet application to deliver an artist residency pilot in Wisbech has been successful.

“The outcome represents significant progress in developing Father Paul’s vision of an artists’ colony in the town.”

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