Arts Council chief visits Luton as artists celebrate winning over £500k in funding

An artists' round table discussed ideas for arts funding in LutonAn artists' round table discussed ideas for arts funding in Luton
An artists' round table discussed ideas for arts funding in Luton
The boss of Arts Council England visited Luton last week as local artists celebrated winning grants worth more than £500,000.

Sir Nicholas Serota explored some of the town’s key cultural hotspots and met members of Luton Borough Council and arts groups to discuss future arts funding.

Sir Nicholas said: “Despite challenges such as its proximity to London, I think Luton is a place with huge potential.

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“We want to see Luton prosper so I have every reason to believe that Arts Council should be supporting the ventures here.”

The University of Bedfordshire aids local arts groups through its arts and culture project team. Its most recent success has been the TestBeds project, which has helped artists to secure funding of £501,472 for projects in Luton itself.

Emma Gill, arts and creative projects manager at the university, said: “We have such an abundance of rich cultural diversity and artistic quality here in Luton but if we’re not careful, we run the risk of losing these artists.

“Luckily, through our close working relationship with The Culture Trust and Luton Borough Council, we have worked together to make sure that local creatives thrive and ultimately stay and create in Luton.

“Sir Nicholas’s visit has helped shine a light on this.”

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After touring the Hat District, Sir Nicholas’s visit ended with a round-table meeting of artists at the university’s new STEM building where local artwork was on display. Artists were encouraged to talk about their experiences trying to access funding and they suggested future possibilities for Arts Council England to explore.

Artist Nicole Mollett said: “Culture happens everywhere in Luton and you’re just as likely to witness art happen in a children’s playground or at a pub as you are in a traditional gallery setting, which is much more interesting.”

Local artist and arts therapist Moriam Grillo added: “Although the arts community here is big, growing and relevant, I’ve witnessed clusters of ‘hidden groups’ across Luton which still don’t engage. But with the Arts Council’s new Let’s Create remit, I’m hoping we can change this.”

The university will continue to work closely with Arts Council England and other creative partners in Luton and Bedfordshire as part of the Let’s Create vision.

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