Thurrock’s chance to be at the heart of the arts

THURROCK Council has a chance to improve the borough’s arts credentials.

Communities Minister Don Foster has announced that Thurrock was one of five areas across England who could bid “for up to £80,000 from the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Arts Council for projects to increase participation in the arts”.

He explained that groups in Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Burnley and Thurrock could seek the funding for such things as “getting theatre touring companies to take in those towns, organising for artist residencies locally, making it easier for people to attend or submit works to local arts festivals and making more use of public display spaces”.

Thurrock Council’s chief executive Graham Farrant welcomed the news, saying: “The minister made it clear that the five areas had been chosen as they have a strong record in local arts projects.

“We have been saying for years – since the arrival of the Royal Opera House and its local work – that Thurrock is the coming place for the Arts.

“The opening of the back stage centre and the National Skills Academy for creative and cultural arts has added further weight to Thurrock’s key position in this sector.”

In his speech the minister explained local organisations including councils, arts, cultural, voluntary and community groups will be able to bid for the Arts Council’s National Lottery-funded grants for the arts scheme for funding of up to £40,000 each.

If successful the Department for Communities and Local Government will double this through its arts and communities programme to up to £80,000 per area.

The funding will be confirmed in coming months and run for 12 months. A further year’s funding is possible for schemes that are producing good results. The government’s approach to integration sets out the arts as a key way of bringing people together.

Mr Farrant said: “In the coming weeks we will talk with all our partners to see if we can put together an exciting and innovative proposal that will not only ensure we secure the money, but also that it will be used to create something Thurrock can remember and be proud of.”

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