VIDEO: Peterborough culture ‘thriving’ says visiting arts chief

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Peterborough boasts a thriving cultural scene with lots of attractions according to the chief executive of Arts Council England.

Darren Henley was speaking on a visit to the city yesterday (Friday, December 11) when he disputed any suggestion that Peterborough is a cultural desert.

Kevin Tighe, Graham Casey, Darren Henley and Shelagh Smith at The Key Theatre

Kevin Tighe, Graham Casey, Darren Henley and Shelagh Smith at The Key Theatre

Mr Henley visited Hampton and Orton libraries, as well as Flag Fen, the Key Theatre and arts group Metal, during his trip to the city and spoke highly of the cultural offerings it has for both local residents and visitors from outside the city.

“For me Peterborough is a really vibrant place, it’s really exciting,” he said.

“Art and culture can define the place, and it’s very important to make an economic case.

“There are some really exciting things going on here, it’s just all about getting all parts of the community involved.

“We want people to be demanding of us. I want to encourage people in Peterborough to be ambitious - to work with Vivacity and Peterborough Presents.

“There is support for individual artists who can make applications and we are always very keen to speak to people about how we can invest in Peterborough.”

Arts Council England has supported the city’s Harvest Festival using £183,150 of public funding through the National Lottery, and £725,046 for Peterborough Presents, which is seeking to increase engagement in the arts and improve the quality and diversity of the activities on offer.

The organisation also provided £152,560 of funding to Peterborough Museum to offer internships for young people and develop the museum’s cellars.

And it was the innovative and award-winning Harvest Festival, which included a sit-down meal for 500 in Cathedral Square, which Mr Henley used as an example of Peterborough putting on an excellent cultural offering for its residents.

“People are travelling to Peterborough now with its fantastic cathedral. You have got very good transport links and Peterborough is an easy place to get to,” he said.

“And when you get here it’s in a very nice environment. You have an Anglia Ruslin campus which I think is a great university.

“The Harvest Festival is a great idea, having the opportunity to sit down and eat. One of of the great things about arts and culture is it brings the community together.

“It’s important for us it’s for everybody to enjoy.”

And Mr Henley was also full of praise for the Open+ self-service technology in Peterborough’s libraries which has resulted in longer opening hours and no library closures, albeit a reduced number of staff.

He added: “It’s really interesting seeing how innovative the library service is. Libraries are important spaces. We are seeing a lot more cultural activities there.

“We went into a couple and they were full of people; there were schools there and mothers and babies.

“We have invested to make sure all libraries here will have wi-fi. That’s being rolled out.”

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