Investment of £1M will ensure Burnley and Padiham's vital and much loved cultural assets will be protected | MP Antony Higginbotham

This week Parliament has been in recess which has given me a great opportunity to get out and about in Burnley and Padiham; enjoying the sunshine, speaking with residents and visiting a number of our beauty spots in and around the borough.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 3:45 pm
MP Antony Higginbotham has spoken about the vital role some of Burnley and Padiham's most iconic cultural organisations play and how the government has taken steps to protect their future

I’m always enamoured with how easy it is to walk a short distance and find yourself in the lovely countryside that surrounds us in each direction.

We should all be proud of the beauty that our area offers but also the cultural assets that we have.

Places like Towneley Hall, where many enjoy the scenic walks, the Rachel Shuttleworth Textile Collection in Gawthorpe which boasts over 11,000 items spanning lace, embroidery, woven and printed materials from all across the world, or the Mechanics Theatre which regularly hosts national comedians as well as local amateur dramatics.

They all contribute so much to bringing people from around the country to our borough, spending money in our local businesses and creating a thriving cultural scene. I’m clear that they too need supporting throughout this pandemic.

Burnley and Padiham’s cultural strength comes from the sheer variety of organisations that we have and whilst coronavirus has caused major disruption it is vital that our cultural heritage is protected.

I’ve spent many an hour lobbying government on this point and have been pleased to see a package of support that will help some of our most iconic organisations through this period, allowing them to reopen and recover as we work our way through the roadmap out of the pandemic.

The Cultural Recovery Fund, announced by the Culture Secretary, has been a welcome lifeline for many of the nation’s most iconic institutions and, having been boosted by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak only last month with an extra £300 million, the total amount spent on helping cultural venues across the country now amounts to just under £2 billion.

Part of that fund has helped organisations here too. Many of you will remember that last October a huge cash injection of over £600,000 was allocated to a number of cultural organisations in the borough, including Towneley Hall, Sanctuary and Burnley Leisure which runs the Mechanics.

This week the second tranche of support was announced, allocating another £400,000 to venues across Burnley and Padiham taking the total investment in Burnley’s cultural sector to over £1 million. And I was pleased that in this latest announcement yet more venues will benefit.

Burnley Youth Theatre, which over the years has helped our young people learn skills, make friends and develop their creativity, is one case in point.

And on Thursday I had the pleasure of visiting the theatre to see how it has managed, and crucially what its plans are when venues like theirs can safely re-open. Like many other dramatic organisations, the last year has been particularly tough for them but that hasn’t stopped their enthusiasm, moving workshops online to communicate with their ever-growing number of participants.

But what we all want to see is a return to visiting places such as BYT and I’m really excited that as we set out on our cautious roadmap to reopening up this sector, we’ll soon be able to enjoy these amazing institutions once again.

And I’m delighted that the support is being put in place to help them thrive in the future. I’ll continue to make the case that we protect these valued organisations as I have been doing over the past 12 months.

On the vaccine front, the last month has seen the roll-out continue at pace, with news of another vaccine, this one created by Moderna, approved earlier this week by the UK regulator.

We've been able to vaccinate more than 56% of all adults across East Lancashire which is a fantastic success story and is testament to the incredible work of the local NHS and volunteers. I want to say a big' thank you' to all of them.

And finally, we also saw some restrictions eased, in line with the roadmap announced by the Prime Minister.

Cautiously, but irreversibly, we are starting to see the end and I was glad to see the PM confirm on Monday that step two will take place on April 12th as planned.