Priest sets up art project to make Wisbech’s children proud of their town

A WISBECH priest is determined to make the town’s children proud of their heritage, and has set up an arts project to inspire the youngsters.

Father Paul West from St Peter’s Church has masterminded the scheme called “We Love Wisbech: Centre for Children’s Arts and Spirituality.”

The enterprise is housed at the lodge between St Peter’s Church and the Vicarage, and it will involve nationally renown artists, musicians and writers working with children from schools and community groups.

As part of the scheme to transform the former curate’s cottage into a thriving events hub, an art room, kitchen and media and library room have been established on the ground floor, and accommodation for visiting artists created on the first floor.

“This is a really exciting project, and stage one is now complete,” said Father Paul, who is a former art teacher in his native Australia. “The problem in Wisbech is a lack of aspiration in children. We are hoping to change that and inspire children to do all sorts of creative things and make Wisbech a creative town.

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“The children of Wisbech have the potential to remake this town. We want to provoke their imagination, encourage their aspirations, and welcome their dreams.”

Over the past year, Foster Property Maintenance from Wisbech has worked on renovating the premises, installing a new kitchen on the first floor, repairing guttering, and maintaining the gardens as part of a community partnership.

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“We want this to be a funky art house that the children really enjoy,” added Father Paul. “Foster Property Maintenance has been a tremendous community business partner with us.”

Back in May, the project received a �100,000 grant from the Archbishops’ Council and the Church Commissioners for England. Some of this money will be spent on a full time director for the project, who is soon to be appointed, along with a part-time secretary.

Over the past year, the project has done a lot of work with Elm Road School, and has welcomed artits from New Zealand and California. Father Paul said: “We are dedicating the rest of the year to the renovation of the centre, and in January we have a number of artists who will be involved in a drawing marathon, involving a lot of schools in the town.

“In 2013 we hope to have an artist in residence every month, throughout the year.”

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