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St Helens is Borough of Culture 2023 – here’s what we know so far

4 weeks ago

By The Guide Liverpool

<strong>St Helens is Borough of Culture 2023 – here’s what we know so far</strong>
Credit: Andrew George Photography

St Helens is Borough of Culture for 2023.

It’s the second time the town has been given the title, having been the first to receive the regional accolade.

It will be a busy year for St Helens with a host of events and activities, and here’s what we know so far…

When was Borough of Culture launched?

Borough of Culture was launched by Mayor of Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, in 2018 as part of his 1% for Culture initiative, which commits to investing 1% of the Combined Authority’s budget directly into culture and creativity. The title rotates around the areas that make up Liverpool City Region.

St Helens
Credit: St Helens Borough Council

Who has held the title?

St Helens was the first town to hold the title. After that it was Wirral in 2019, Sefton in 2020, Halton in 2021 and Knowsley in 2022.

What were the highlights of St Helens’ inaugural year?

St Helens hosted a number of events and exhibitions across the borough, including the award-winning Lost Castles project in Victoria Square. French artist, Olivier Grossetête, built six enormous Lost Castles with cardboard, tape and ‘community spirit’ across the Liverpool City Region in August of 2018, one of which was in St Helens. 

The borough paid tribute to its twinned town of Stuttgart by creating the German town’s iconic 10th Century Old Castle.

What did Steve Rotheram say after St Helens was announced as Borough of Culture for the second time?

Steve Rotheram says: “It’s hard to believe it’s almost five years since St Helens was crowned our region’s first Borough of Culture. It was an incredible debut that saw the town showcase its unique blend of creativity and culture, which contributes so much towards making our region one of the most vibrant places to live and work.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how the St Helens community pulls together once again to share its story and shine a spotlight on the very best of what the town has to offer.”

St Helens councillor David Baines said it was a new chance to tell the town’s stories of its sporting triumphs, its homegrown stars, and its workers; workers who, he added, ‘drove the Industrial Revolution and who still innovate and excel today’. He also said the stories would tell of the incredible strength and solidarity seen in communities during the pandemic, and he concluded: “In the coming year we will come to celebrate all this and more – celebrating our past, and building our future.”

What are the aims of Borough of Culture?

Borough of Culture aims to reveal the cultural attractions of each region, as well as highlight the identities in each part and how they merge together. The programme encourages each area to put the spotlight on the character and distinctiveness of its people and places, and develop its local talent and potential, promoting creativity and cultural engagement.

The year coincides with anniversaries of a number of the town’s organisations: is this significant?

Yes. Councillor Anthony Burns, cabinet member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage, reveals: “Our year will be shared with the celebrations for a number of key organisations which really fit with the culture of our borough including the 100th anniversary of St Helens Rotary, 90th anniversary of the foundation of the St Helens Council of Voluntary Service, and the 75th anniversary of our partnering agreement with the city of Stuttgart. It is also a huge year for St Helens Rugby League Club who will be celebrating their 150th anniversary and we’re delighted the club will play a proud part of our year of culture.”

St Helens
St Helens Rugby League Club will celebrate its 150th year in 2023 (Credit: Pete Stuart/Shutterstock)

What events will be held?

The year will see activities run in communities across the borough, says Councillor Burns, making sure the key to its success is making culture accessible for everyone.

Events already announced include:

The Wondrous Storytelling Festival 2023 

This will take place from Saturday, February 11to Saturday, February 18 with performances in nine Libraries across the borough. 

The event will be presented by Cultural Hubs, St Helens Borough Council’s award-winning Arts in Libraries programme, in partnership with Wonder Arts. 

St Helens
Credit: The Lakes International Comic Art Festival

10 Years to Save the World

An international exhibition of comic arts at St Helens Library from March 3-31.

Aimed at 18-24 year-olds, 10 Years to Save the World will also be presented by Cultural Hubs – Arts in Libraries programme in partnership with Lakes International Comic Art Festival. It will be a showcase of comic artwork and storytelling in response to the climate crisis by leading comic artists in the UK and the Philippines.

Stay updated with the plans here.

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