City’s creative culture receives a boost

10 December 2020

UCLan and Preston City Council join forces to develop the arts and wellbeing offer in Preston

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Preston City Council have joined forces to cement their commitment to the city’s creative culture.

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the two key anchor institutions which signals their intent to develop the arts and wellbeing offer in Preston.

The partnership will see UCLan students and members of the public use the iconic Harris Museum and Library for educational, civic and leisure purposes. In addition, the Harris will be used for the delivery of University teaching, research, community engagement and other activities.

Other plans include:

  • developing a city centre resource for the support of artists, producers, projects and SMEs in the creative sector
  • pinpointing and developing opportunities for UCLan students and staff to access, and potentially work with, the collections, resources and spaces offered by the Harris, including exhibiting their work to the public
  • discovering opportunities to exhibit and share Harris collections and other assets in the University
  • contributing to the evolution of the Harris as a city centre cultural and civic hub
  • recognising opportunities to submit joint funding bids

Professor Graham Baldwin, UCLan Vice-Chancellor, said: “We are very proud of our partnerships with institutions across the world but none more so than with our fellow key anchor institutions within our local community.

"It means we can join forces and show everybody how Preston is a major creative centre, with innovation, research and public engagement at the heart of our work"

Professor Graham Baldwin, UCLan Vice-Chancellor

“We are delighted to officially recognise our close links with the Harris through this Memorandum of Understanding. It means we can join forces and show everybody how Preston is a major creative centre, with innovation, research and public engagement at the heart of our work.”

Cultural links between the two institutions already exist as Turner Prize winning artist Lubaina Himid CBE, who is a Professor of Contemporary Art at UCLan, has exhibited her creative work in the gallery.

Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure at Preston City Council, added: “The Harris’ ambition is to be a focal hub for creativity and making, information and learning in spaces that celebrate heritage and promote wellbeing.

“For many local people the Harris represents Preston, a proud landmark on the cityscape. However, it has the potential to be far more than an iconic building, and this partnership can only further help in making the vision and ambition become a reality.”

A £10.02m scheme to reimagine the Harris is currently underway. The #HarrisYourPlace project aims to both preserve the Grade I listed building and create a world-class cultural attraction and community hub for future generations.

A joint team from Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council have recently submitted a bid to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for £4.5m to deliver the scheme. If successful, the funding will be added to the £3.6m already in place from Preston City Council; Lancashire County Council; the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal; Arts Council England and local supporters including members of the public and the Friends of the Harris charity, all forming part of the Harris’ ongoing fundraising campaign.

The project will start in Spring 2021 if both the planning application and The National Lottery Heritage Fund support to deliver the project are approved.