Absolutely Cultured is awarded £60,000 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Absolutely Cultured has been awarded £60,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, to support arts and culture-led projects exploring local history in Gipsyville and Spring Bank, through to July 2023.

Floodlights Parade in Gipsyville, 2021. Absolutely Cultured © Tom Arran

The funding, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, will support the organisation to run a wide range of creative workshops with artists and local history experts working with local residents in both communities that aim to unearth and explore the stories that have shaped the neighbourhoods – both physically and their role in the city.

Stephen Munn, CEO and Artistic Director of Absolutely Cultured said: “It is fantastic to receive this support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. It’s a really exciting project that everyone in these communities can be a part of.

“The project is an expansion of the work we’ve been doing in Spring Bank and Gipsyville over the last couple of years, ensuring people have opportunities to take part in creative activities in a way that is meaningful and relevant to them and supporting residents to produce their own opportunities to be creative!”

David Renwick, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are delighted to support this project, which thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will mean that more people will be able to get involved with, protect, and learn about the exciting heritage right on their doorstep. Heritage has a huge role to play in instilling pride in communities and boosting local economies across the North of England, and this project and the work of Absolutely Cultured is a fantastic example of achieving those aims”

In Gipsyville, the industrial heritage of the area will explored in partnership with award-winning theatre company Middle Child, looking at how it developed into the place it is today. The team at Middle Child will work with residents to deliver creative workshops over the course of a year, culminating in a processional theatre piece with a community cast and crew. Reminiscence sessions will be run by Absolutely Cultured, and supported by Gipsyville Library, to give the community a chance to contribute their memories, stories and links to the history of their area.

Paul Smith, Artistic Director and joint CEO of Middle Child says: “We’re over the moon to be working with the communities of Gipsyville to create a new piece of theatre together, about the neighbourhood and its history.

“We look forward to not only meeting people to bring their stories to life, with the help of experienced writer and theatre maker, Rachael Abbey, but also learning from residents about the power of storytelling to bring generations together.

“This project is an opportunity for people from different backgrounds and experiences to make a collaborative piece of art and we can’t wait to get started.”

In Spring Bank, activity will take inspiration from the zoological gardens that used to be in the area from 1840 to 1861, its impact on the area today and how this history relates to Spring Bank’s community. Working with Handmade Parade, an award- winning community arts and parade specialist Community Interest Company based in Hebden Bridge, residents will be able to participate in a range of creative, heritage focused sessions and workshops built around this theme. From the animals that called the gardens their home, including bears, big cats, monkeys, alligators, kangaroos and a famous elephant, to the fetes and galas that were hosted there. In these sessions, residents will co-create artworks for a parade that will take place during Summer 2023.

Absolutely Cultured has been working with HEY! Volunteers, partners and communities in Spring Bank and Gipsyville since 2019 on projects that use creative approaches to improve things that matter to residents such as tackling anti-social behaviour, improving the appearance of their area and building a sense of community. These new projects are the next step in our ambitions to deliver more cultural activity that is designed with the residents themselves.