Chard’s High Street awarded £80,000 for Cultural Programme
South Somerset District Council, Chard Town Council and Somerset Art Works, on behalf of a consortium of local partners, are delighted to reveal we have been awarded an £80,000 grant from Historic England as part of the Chard High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) to create and deliver community-led cultural activities on the high street over the next three years.
Chard 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.
Over the next three years, creative and community organisations in Chard will work together to deliver the Culturally Chard programme that won them the funding. There will be a diverse range of new activities and events taking place including two larger festivals, all with a connection to the historic town centre, adding to the existing cultural calendar. Residents, community groups, schools and businesses are all invited to get involved.
Photo above: Copyright: Somerset Art Works
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.
Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage MP said: "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."
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.”
Jason Baker, South Somerset District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Chard Regeneration, said: “Arts and culture are an essential element of any vibrant town. As SSDC works to improve the physical environment of Chard’s town centre, the partnership-led cultural programme will provide an extra reason for people to come into town, increasing footfall for our local businesses.”
Beccy Swaine, Project Co-ordinator at Somerset Art Works, said: “This is a special opportunity for Chard residents to get creative. There will be a whole range of different activities and events taking place in the town over the next three years, from craft to storytelling, heritage trails to carnival, photography to exhibitions. Our first event will be happening on Fore Street in July, where we hope to meet lots of local people and hear about what you’d like to see happening”.
Liz Johnson-Idan, Community Liaison Officer at Chard Town Council, said: “Culturally Chard is going to be a real boost for the local community. We know how hard it has been for many residents during the last year with the impacts of the covid pandemic. This gives us all something really positive to focus on as we begin to recover as a town. We hope that everyone will feel able to come and be a part of it over the next three years.”
Other partner organisations involved in the consortium are Chard Museum, Chard Carnival Committee, Holyrood Academy, Chard One Team and Chard Town Team. The programme will officially launch in July and run through to March 2024. For more information, visit www.chardregeneration.co.uk.