A partnership of organisations from across Gosport has been awarded a £100,000 grant from Historic England as part of the Gosport High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) to create and deliver a programme of community-led cultural activities on the high street over the next three years.
Led by Hampshire Cultural Trust, the Gosport Cultural Consortium consists of representatives from Bridgemary School, Gosport Heritage Open Days, Gosport Discovery Centre, Gosport Voluntary Action, Gosport U3A and the Gosport Diving Museum.
Gosport is one of more than 60 high streets across England to receive a share of £6 million for its cultural programme, with grants of up to £120,000 awarded to local arts organisations for cultural activity on each high street. The High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme is led by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and aims to make high streets more attractive, engaging and vibrant places for people to live, work and spend time, helping to re-energise them for the benefit of the local community.
Emily Gee, Regional Director, Historic England in London and the South East, said: ‘The High Streets Cultural Programme is such an important – and exciting – way of bringing people back to their cherished high streets in need of love. We are working together to regenerate historic high streets through conservation and building work, and this community-led cultural activity programme will draw people back to enliven and shape these special places for the future.’
Paul Sapwell, Chief Executive of Hampshire Cultural Trust, commented: ‘On behalf of all the partners in the Gosport Cultural Consortium, we are thrilled to have received this award from Historic England. Through this three-year programme, we want to use arts, heritage and culture to create earning and employment opportunities, to encourage more people from across all communities to get involved with cultural events and to help support the delivery of the HSHAZ programme, celebrating the renewed identity of Gosport’s high street and contributing to its long term viability.’
Plans for the Gosport cultural programme include:
- Creative grants: an annual community pot for creative projects in and around the high street.
- Guided tours: establishment of a new guided tours programme in the high street, bringing Gosport’s history and heritage to life with themed, charged walking tours through the town centre and cycling tours.
- First Timers Festival: in response to interest in a larger-scale community event, a First Timers Festival that will encourage visitors to try something creative for the first time.
- HSHAZ supporting activity: including workshops, artist commissions, heritage talks and a project to animate historic alleyways in the town centre.
- Creative retailing: opportunities for local makers and artists to sell their wares.
Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage MP, commented: ‘High streets are often the heart of our communities and should be places we all want to engage with and enjoy. These grants will help transform high streets into thriving cultural hubs, encouraging us to embrace all the joys our town centres have to offer.’
The funding builds on the success of a series of pilot cultural projects that have run in Gosport since the autumn of 2020. This pilot programme will come to a close with a Maker’s Market, which will be held on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 May at Gosport Gallery and SEARCH in the Old Grammar School on the town’s High Street. The market will give local artists, artisans and makers the opportunity to showcase and sell their goods with a free-of-charge stall, while workshops, performances and demonstrations on both days will give visitors a chance to get creative themselves. Admission to the Makers Market is free, but pre-booking is essential to help ensure the safety of all visitors and stallholders. Places can be booked at https://www.hampshireculture.org.uk/gosport-gallery.
Image: Copyright Historic England Archive, James O. Davies