Lancaster University: Lancaster high street awarded £86,660 for cultural programme

Lancaster City Council and Lancaster Arts, a part of Lancaster University, and the National Portfolio of Arts Council England, have been awarded a £86,660 grant from Historic England as part of the Lancaster High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ).

This will help to create and deliver an exciting cultural programme on the high street over the next three years.

Lancaster HSHAZ is one of more than 60 high streets to receive a share of £6 million for their cultural programme. Grants of up to £120,000 have been awarded to local arts organisations for cultural activity on each high street.

The Lancaster HSHAZ focuses on an area to the north-east of the city centre around North Road, Lower Church Street and St Leonardgate. ‘Mill Race: Flow of Change’ will deliver a range of place-based cultural opportunities to help reveal and experience the area’s unique histories and distinctiveness. It will celebrate the Mill Race area as a core and dynamic part of Lancaster that is directly informed by its heritage but also its emerging, contemporary character.

The cultural programme will be led by a Cultural Consortium comprised of a diverse mix of locally based artists, arts and heritage organisations, local volunteers and residents, and businesses and services based in the area. It will foster an environment for co-production, building new partnerships and forging new relationships that strengthen the local cultural ecology and extend the current cultural offer. The live and digital programme will encourage curiosity, shift perceptions and create exciting reasons to visit and engage with the area, complementing the wider HSHAZ programme of investment into buildings and public realm, and supporting capacity building and community engagement.

This is part of the four-year-long High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme, led by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Cultural Programme aims to make our high streets more attractive, engaging and vibrant places for people to live, work and spend time.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive, Historic England, said: “The high street cultural programme is a step change in the way we think about bringing high streets back from the brink. As we start to see these important historic spaces become regenerated through building work, it is the community-led cultural work that helps people to enjoy their high street again and also have a say in what the future of their high street might be.”

Councillor Caroline Jackson, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “This is great news for Lancaster. The Mill Race area of the city is steeped in history and helped to shape the city’s distinctive identify and character.

“Thanks to this funding we’ll be able to bring this rich heritage to life and use it to reinvigorate and re-energise the high street, which will be ever more important as our economy recovers from the devastating effects of the pandemic.”

Jocelyn Cunningham, Director of Lancaster Arts, said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for all of Lancaster’s cultural communities, especially at a time when this sector has been hit so hard by the pandemic. The cultural programme will enable new and diverse partnerships that bring imagination, creativity and a new dynamism to our city centre.”

Professor Dame Sue Black, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement at Lancaster University, said: “Lancaster University is delighted to be supporting the cultural programme for Mill Race as part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zone. We are committed to working with our partners and communities to create positive economic, social and cultural change and supporting the growth and development of our city region. This project is a great opportunity to build on the rich heritage and cultural offer in Lancaster, taking us back to our roots in the heart of the city.”

The funding builds on the success of a series of pilot cultural projects that have run since last August across 43 High Street Heritage Action Zones. They have not only helped high streets offer cultural activity during lockdown, but also discovered what local people would like to see happening on their high streets.


As well as the grant-funded cultural activity taking place on high streets over the next three years, Historic England is also curating a programme of cultural commissions to get people back to high streets:


Historic England is unofficially ‘twinning’ towns, through a programme of creative commissions that see artists working with local people to uncover what they have in common.

The artworks will explore themes of identity as well as the communities’ collective hopes and challenges, culminating in a series of installations, performances and digital work.

Artists from Unfolding Theatre are engaging with shopkeepers, local residents and high street visitors in North Shields and Lancaster for Unfolding Theatre – High Street Duets, to create five new songs that celebrate place, released later this summer.


Historic England, the National Trust and Heritage Open Days have commissioned Sound UK to create a series of new ‘High Street Sound Walks’ available on six High Streets Heritage Action Zones that will be launched as part of Heritage Open Days (10-19 September). The walks are each co-created with local artists – or artists with a connection to each place – and the community, in association with local arts organisations. The result will be distinctive, immersive soundscapes to inspire people to look again at their high streets.


As part of a major photography commission, Picturing England’s High Streets, six socially-engaged photographers-in-residence will be based with regional photography organisations over the coming years to chronicle our high streets. Coordinated by the photography organisation Photoworks, applications for the artist residencies are now open for Chester, Prescot, Coventry and Stoke (closing 26 May), with Tower Hamlets and Leicester to open for applications this summer.