The World of Glass building in St Helens could be redeveloped and extended to accommodate a new arts and cultural centre.
Councillors in the area have given their backing to the proposal as part of a wider vision to enhance St Helens’ position as a thriving cultural destination.
The centre would accommodate key partners and allow for a greater selection of arts and cultural activities to take place, as well as including conference and exhibition facilities.
Whilst supporting the proposed development for the town, councillors have also agreed to back a programme of events to mark a milestone anniversary of St Helens.
In 2018 a special programme will celebrate 150 years since the borough received its Royal Charter from Queen Victoria in 1868.
Under the name ‘St Helens 150’, events organised by Heart of Glass in partnership with St Helens Council and a variety of local community partners will acknowledge and reflect upon the area’s history and heritage whilst also looking to the future of the borough.
St Helens has become renowned for glass making, coal mining, pharmaceuticals and rugby.
Funding for 75% of the 2018 celebrations programme has been secured by Heart of Glass from Arts Council England and other sources. A £500,000 contribution (25%) has been agreed by St Helens Council, as a one-off investment to support the wider aim of raising aspirations and ambition.
Councillor Gill Neal, St Helens Council’s cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, with responsibility for arts and culture, says: “2018 won’t only be about recognising the legacy of St Helens’ impressive past, but is very much about celebrating our innovation, ingenuity and culture.
“There can be no denying that this is a lot of money to commit – especially during times of government austerity – but that said, we feel that it is important that throughout our anniversary year we can provide everyone with the opportunity to celebrate and offer an inclusive, accessible programme of events which can improve mental health and wellbeing, as well as increase participation and confidence in the future of St Helens.”