Walsall Council has been successful in securing support for the Borough’s creative industries. It has been awarded a grant of £3.7million by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), delivered by Arts Council England, as part of the highly competitive £30.2million Cultural Development Fund: Round Three.
Funding will enable Walsall’s currently vacant Grade II* listed Guildhall building to be transformed into a vibrant Creative Industries Enterprise Centre (CIEC), celebrating the Borough’s rich heritage through new innovation for future generations. This makerspace, to be run by Heritage Trust Network members Urban Hax, a local non-profit creative CIC, will include support and facilities for creatives to run and grow creative businesses and projects across art, science and technology.
More than just a business space, it will be a hive of creativity, with a café, gallery space for creative organisations to exhibit their work, and open to residents to engage with the space. Conference facilities will host a range of creative and cultural events for the wider community.
Councillor Adrian Andrew, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Regeneration Walsall Council said:
“ This funding is a great endorsement of our continued work to drive innovation and regeneration across the Borough. Once known as the ‘Town of a 100 Trades’, Walsall’s rich creative heritage continues to this day. This project will champion Walsall’s unique offer and secure the area as a great place to live, work, visit and invest. “
The overall project will be delivered through local partnerships with Urban Hax, The New Art Gallery Walsall and Walsall Cultural Compact, representing a step change in approach to Town Centre regeneration, celebrating important historic spaces through community-led cultural activity.
In the run-up to the Guildhall re-opening, an associated Festival of Design and Making, a programme of creative commissions, events, skills development and business support will take place throughout 2024-2026 to engage local people, raise awareness of Walsall’s continuing status as a centre of creative excellence and promote representation of our diverse communities. All will culminate in the re-animation of the town centre, driving footfall between St. Matthew’s Quarter and The New Art Gallery Walsall, shaping Walsall’s cultural tourism offer for the future.