Council welcome £1.3m boost for Derwent Valley plans

Belpers mills will be at the centre of a multi-million pound scheme to engage people with local arts and heritage.
Belpers mills will be at the centre of a multi-million pound scheme to engage people with local arts and heritage.

A revolutionary plan to revitalise the arts, culture and heritage of the historic Derwent Valley has been awarded funding of £1,285,800.

The grant is one of 30 made nationwide by the Great Place scheme, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Historic England.

It will be used to fund Vital Valley - a scheme designed to ensure a creative future for the valley’s World Heritage Site, led by Derbyshire County Council, and a partnership of cultural organisations, local authorities and businesses.

The council’s head of conservation, Adam Lathbury, said: “We’re thrilled to receive this funding. The Great Place scheme gives us an opportunity, through heritage and the arts, to help people from across the region identify with the site, and get actively involved with the next stage of its development”

The council now has until March 2020 to deliver 23 projects designed to inspire people towards a greater sense of pride in, and belonging to, the area.

Projects will include volunteer training, digital initiatives, accessibility improvements, learning programmes, marketing, and building new audiences.

It will also expand the award-winning Belper Ambassador Scheme to other areas, and undertake public realm works in Darley Abbey, Milford and Belper.

Councillor Ellie Wilcox, who chairs the World Heritage Site steering group, said: “We have a range of priorities which address audience development, business engagement, the built environment and sustainability.

“The Vital Valley projects directly address these in exciting ways, from advocacy programmes, research and training to creative commissioning schemes.”

The Great Place scheme is a £20 million initiative inspired by the Government’s Culture White Paper, which called for the creative enterprise sectors to be at the centre of local plans and decision-making.

Many of the individual projects will be shaped by local people, artists and practitioners working to enhance the site as a visitor attraction.

Arts Council spokesman Peter Knott said: “Art and culture make the places we live vibrant and exciting - entertaining and inspiring us, benefiting our wellbeing and boosting local economies.

“It will be great to see this project embed that within the World Heritage Site, and bring more visitors to Derbyshire.”

For more details on the Great Place scheme, see www.greatplacescheme.org.uk.

To learn about the Derwent Valley, check out www.derwentvalleymills.org.