Lincolnshire: A County Where Creativity Is Flourishing

After the National Portfolio for 2018-2022 was announced earlier this year, Chief Executive Darren Henley wrote this piece on Arts Council England’s new investment in a creative future for Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire has got it all. One of the most beautiful coastlines in Britain, with miles of wonderful beaches, amazing skies and the magical seclusion of The Wolds. Charming Georgian market towns nestle in its landscape. And its architecturally magnificent main city is rapidly becoming one of the most culturally and creatively interesting places in England.

Lincolnshire also has something tough and individual in its make-up. Despite its peaceful landscape, this is a county steeped in a history of turbulent non-conformism; after all, it is the birthplace of John Wesley, and played an important role in nurturing the beliefs of the Pilgrim Fathers. The beauty of Lincolnshire has been celebrated by authors from Tennyson and D.H. Lawrence to A.S. Byatt. 

But did you also know that Barton on Humber in North Lincolnshire was the childhood home of cult crime writer Ted Lewis, and the setting for his most famous novel, Jack’s Return Home, which was later filmed as Get Carter?

Earlier this year I spoke at the Lincoln Cultural Conference at the University of Lincoln about how art and culture that is connected to a place, its people and its history can rejuvenate communities, inspire civic pride and attract new jobs, as we’ve seen in Hull, Margate and Liverpool. There is a real ambition across Lincolnshire to see the county as a thriving cultural destination. There is so much here for people to discover and enjoy. As the national development agency for art and culture, it is the Arts Council’s job to help make this a reality. I want to share with you how the county fits into our funding plans for 2018 -2022.

Over the four years, we’ll be investing £2,679,060 in the county through our new National Portfolio – the group of around 844 arts and cultural organisations in England that receive regular funding and form the backbone of the work we do. 

There will be more money for Lincolnshire One Venues, to put exciting theatre, dance and music into local venues across the county – from Lincoln Drill Hall to Stamford Arts Centre and the Riverhead Theatre in Louth. We will also support the National Centre for Craft and Design in Sleaford, and the Design Factory to bring on creative talent across the East Midlands. In Lincoln, our funding will help The Collection and Usher Gallery to share the secrets of the past alongside great contemporary art. 

Historic Lincoln also provides the perfect backdrop for the National Lottery funded Frequency Festival, the city’s successful festival of digital culture that we support along with the University of Lincoln.

Lincolnshire is home to artsNK, the country’s largest rural arts development agency. Our funding will help more people get involved in creative activities, from taking part in dance and acrobatics to craft-making and pottery. 

In recent years we have seen how investment in art and culture can help boost the economies of coastal towns, both in and out of season. Since 2009, the Arts Council has been investing with East Lindsey District Council in SO Festival. Magna Vitae, the Trust that runs SO Festival will remain in the Portfolio, ensuring the future of this summer highlight for residents and holiday-makers, with audiences now topping 80,000. 

Tourism is already worth £190 million to Lincoln and the city can build on this to become a top tourist destination.[1] We’ve backed this ambition with £440,000 from our National Lottery funded Cultural Destinations programme.

We want our investment to reach more people and more communities in Lincolnshire – giving them choice over the local culture they want to see.

Our support for arts producers Transported is giving the people of Boston and South Holland the chance to decide what art they want – and they’ve been inspired by Lincolnshire’s agricultural industry and landscape to turn lorries into canvases and take dance into seed factories.

Creativity is shooting up all over this beautiful county. We want our investment to help it flower for everyone.


Image: Lincolnshire Loveliness by Alisha Miller – Pumpkin Place (FreshLinc lorry), image by Electric Egg