Weston’s High Street Heritage Action Zone receives a Historic England grant 

Today, Historic England has announced that 60 High Street Heritage Action Zones (HSHAZ) will receive grants totaling £6m, going to local arts organisations to create and deliver community-led cultural activities on their high streets over the next three years.

Weston-super-Mare’s HSHAZ has been granted £119,690 for a three-year cultural project reaching out to the diverse communities within the town, as part of Weston’s Placemaking Strategy and in partnership with Culture Weston.

The cultural project, 21st Century super Shrines, is an exciting programme co-created by professional artists, in partnership with local emerging artists and communities, with a series of innovative contemporary ‘shrines’ which will appear on the high street. These shrines may be permanent installations or live arts experiences. Together, the shrines will create a sense of shared values, determining a new sense of ‘worth’ on the high street. The project is being steered by a consortium of 11 organisations led by Culture Weston

The first shrine will be a contemporary, performance-based bandstand in the town centre, co-created by internationally acclaimed artist Morag Myerscough, who will work alongside the project’s lead local artist Megan Clark-Bagnall and artists in the area, to produce vibrant artwork featuring her signature use of creative colour and pattern.

The bandstand will make its premiere as part of Weston’s Whirligig Festival in September. It will provide a space for both professional and emerging artists to showcase their work and become a performance platform for other cultural events within the town.

Another shrine will build on a recent Culture Weston project ‘Let’s Get Visible’ with Weston’s LGBTQ+ community.

21st Century super Shrines builds on the Memory Bank project, which saw social maker Megan Clark-Bagnall and a team of artists engage with local Weston communities to creatively capture people’s past, present and future thoughts about the town, as part of a cultural, placemaking project by Culture Weston in partnership with Weston High Street HAZ.  As the lead local artist and creative mentor for

21st Century super Shrines, Megan will work closely with Culture Weston and the community to realise the creative concept of the shrine artworks as tributes to the rich and diverse nature of the area.

Mark Canniford, Executive Member for Placemaking and Economy, at North Somerset Council, said: “Investing into Weston’s thriving cultural sector is a key part of helping the town recover and prosper from the pandemic and I’m delighted Historic England have awarded Weston this grant.”

John Crockford-Hawley, Heritage and Regeneration Champion, from North Somerset Council, said: “As one of the first Heritage Action Zones, we understand the central role that heritage and culture play in people’s lives and this grant will allow us to continue supporting artists and community organisations in Weston.”

Fiona Matthews, Creative Director at Culture Weston said: “The project aims to build local pride and renewed respect for the high street by enabling experiences and physical landmarks to emerge, that instill awe and a sense of belonging, creating a town centre that is both a home and a destination.”

Weston’s award 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 Streets Cultural Programme is an essential part of the way we are contributing to bringing high streets back from the brink. As we start to see these important historic spaces become regenerated through conservation and building work, the community-led cultural activity programme will bring people back to enjoy their high street again and have a say in its future.”