- Date: 8 August 2008
- Area: North
An innovative, community-led regeneration initiative that set out to improve the public spaces of Castleford, West Yorkshire is the subject of a major new Channel 4 series starting on 11 August 2008 at 9:00pm – Kevin McCloud and the Big Town Plan.
The arts have been at the centre of the project from its early stages, and Arts Council England, Yorkshire developed a programme of activity including commissioning work by Winter/Hörbelt and Carlos Garaicoa, in collaboration with Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and supporting activity by local artists: “The project demonstrates the importance and potential of the arts as an integral part of regeneration. It also enabled a whole range of local people to be engaged in the regeneration of their town.” says Adrian Friedli, Director of Visual Arts and Literature at Arts Council England, Yorkshire.
He adds: “This project goes much further than the scope of the television programmes. We want art to continue to be part of the ongoing regeneration of Castleford and we also hope that other areas will see what is being done here and be inspired by it.”
The last five years have seen a series of improvement schemes across the town as part of the £11 million Castleford Project including the design of a new town square, the creation of several new facilities for local children and the design and build of a major new footbridge.
Thousands of local people were involved in the project and important new work was commissioned from national and international designers and artists. The initiative has been credited with leveraging over £200m of additional investment into the town. It has also won extensive praise for its best practice in urban regeneration and has attracted international interest.
Placing the arts at the centre of The Castleford Project has stimulated not just the attention of the wider world on the town, but has initiated journeys and transformation for some of those involved. Adrian Friedli says, “As well as commissioning and facilitating the practical delivery of new work by local and international artists, it has been just as important for us to be able to support the meeting and exhibition space at 2 Sagar Street, to be a lively focus for discussions such as the ‘great Cratehouse debate’ to articulate what Castleford means to its residents."
As the birthplace of Henry Moore, art has always been important in the town. Alison Drake, one of the community champions at the centre of the project says that: “When the town came together with a strong desire to see real renaissance, it wished to achieve this by building upon [the town’s] rich culture to achieve more than just physical regeneration.” A resident who met Carlos Garaicoa observed: “He understands what a community aspires to and how they value the past as well as the present.” Another commented that Garaicoa had ”a 21st century vision of the town, worthy of the town at last, particularly in its passion to connect and communicate."
The Castleford Project is supported by a partnership between Channel 4, Wakefield Council, local community and civic groups and other regional agencies including Arts Council England, Yorkshire.
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