A £15million scheme to help put culture at the heart of successful communities was unveiled by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Arts Council England (ACE) today.
The Great Place Scheme – one of the flagship measures from the Government’s recently published Culture White Paper – will pilot new approaches that enable cultural, community and civic organisations to work more closely together. 

The aim is twofold: to ensure that the considerable investment in culture made by organisations like HLF and ACE has the maximum positive impact on jobs, economic performance, educational attainment, community cohesion and health and wellbeing; and to persuade civic organisations and local businesses to invest in and put culture at the heart of their thinking.

The Great Place Scheme, using funds raised by the National Lottery, will initially be piloted in 12 locations across England and is likely to include everything from city-wide schemes to groups of rural or coastal local authority areas. Funding comes from HLF and ACE, each of which will contribute £7.5m for projects lasting up to three years. There will also be complementary support from other organisations where relevant, such as Historic England through its Heritage Action Zone initiative.

Single organisations cannot apply. Applications must come from partnerships.

Heritage Minister Tracey Crouch said: “A strong heritage and cultural sector supports tourism, wellbeing and economic growth. By celebrating and preserving history, architecture and art, communities can transform their local area. The Great Place Scheme will showcase just what can be done when you put culture at the heart of local plans and policies.”

The Great Place Scheme follows on from a joint project between HLF and the Royal Society of Arts to understand which areas could make better use of their heritage assets in order to drive local identity, improve residents’ wellbeing and increase levels of tourism. The Heritage Index, published in September 2015, included a challenge to local communities, businesses and cultural leaders to make greater use of their heritage in order to grow their economies and improve local residents’ wellbeing.

HLF Chair Sir Peter Luff said: “The Great Place Scheme is a challenge to communities to work together to put culture at the centre of their local plans. HLF invests a huge amount to make communities better places to live, so we want to be sure that National Lottery players’ money is being used in the most effective ways possible. An area’s culture – including arts and heritage – is important not just for its own sake; this scheme will show how it can also boost jobs and local economies, improve education and life chances and promote community cohesion and wellbeing.” 

ACE Chief Executive Darren Henley said: “The Arts Council’s investment has already been instrumental in transforming places up and down the country, and we look forward to working with the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England on the Great Places scheme to continue this and work with new places. This pilot will enable local arts and cultural organisations and partners in a place, who have great ideas but need that additional support, focus and coordination to work together and make them a reality, and thus ensure that the arts and culture support priorities such as education, health and well-being and community cohesion.”

Historic England Director of Engagement Deborah Lamb said: “At the heart of the Great Place Scheme is the idea that culture and heritage can be drivers of economic development as well as a way to build community pride and a sense of belonging. Historic England will also be seeking Heritage Action Zones in areas where wider cultural benefits can be achieved, complementing the Great Place initiative.”


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