Keynsham and Midsomer Norton High Streets awarded £165,000 for cultural programmes

New community-led cultural activities and events are set to be enjoyed in Keynsham and Midsomer Norton from this summer following an award of £165,000 funding announced today (May 19). The grants have been awarded by Historic England as part of Keynsham and Midsomer Norton’s High Street Heritage Action Zones (HZHAZ) and will be used for new community programmes centred around the high streets that are focused on the arts, history and culture. Keynsham and Midsomer Norton are among 60 high streets in England to receive a share of £6 million for these projects from the four-year-long High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme. Taking place over the next three years, these Local Cultural Programmes will be led by ‘Cultural Consortia’ formed of local stakeholder groups and representatives, with support from Bath & North East Somerset Council and Historic England. Keynsham has been awarded £80,000 to fund activities including mini festivals, markets, cultural community days and the installation of an illustrative timeline of Keynsham’s history. In the first year, the project will uncover how Keynsham was in the past. The second year will celebrate Keynsham as it is now and the final year will look to the future. In Midsomer Norton, the ‘Merriment in Midsomer Norton’ Cultural Programme was awarded £85,000 to relaunch historic street markets, enhance existing festivals like Wassailing and delivering interactive heritage and cultural events including history trails, pop-up exhibitions and skills workshops. Councillor Deb Cooper from Keynsham Town Council led the Keynsham bid, developed by the Cultural Consortium with support from Bath & North East Somerset Council. Cllr Cooper said: “Currently, people come to the High Street area to do their shopping and then they leave. We want them to feel that they can stay a while, meet friends, relax and enjoy a safe, bright, inspiring space. We want everyone to benefit from our programme – we want our older residents to recognize and remember past events, and to know that the younger residents will see and hear their stories, and share their experiences. We want to inspire younger residents to be proud of and take ownership of our town for the future. We want to make sure we support and appreciate our businesses and traders, who are a vital part of our town centre. “By the end of this programme, we aim to have built a strong and exciting Cultural Calendar for our Town Centre – events and activities that bring people together throughout the year, and which become regular events. This will create memories for people, and this is how a legacy is built.” In Midsomer Norton, the Community Trust and the council worked with a consultancy called Culture Force on the grant funding bid with support from the community groups and organisations who will form the Cultural Consortium. Bev Iles, Acting Chair of the Midsomer Norton Community Trust, said: “We are delighted that Midsomer Norton has been awarded this funding and we are looking forward to delivering all the planned events in the coming years alongside the other stakeholders. As a charity we aim to provide activities that benefit local people and the Cultural Programme will be a big boost in achieving this. We are very excited about the return of historic street markets and being able to offer a greater range of inclusive and sustainable High Street-led activities.” Councillor Dine Romero, cabinet member for Children and Young People, Communities and Culture at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “Midsomer Norton and Keynsham are fortunate to have fantastic communities who have worked hard on securing this important funding to celebrate and re-animate their town centres. As high streets recover from the huge challenges they have faced over the past year, the exciting cultural activities ahead will encourage more people to engage with the rich heritage of the towns and increase footfall. Well done to all our partners involved in the successful bids.” The High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme is led by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Cultural Programme aims to make our high streets more attractive, engaging and vibrant places for people to live, work and spend time. Caroline Dinenage MP, Culture Minister said: "High streets are often the heart of our communities and should be places we all want to engage with and enjoy. These grants will help transform high streets into thriving cultural hubs, encouraging us to embrace all the joys our town centres have to offer.” Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive, Historic England, said: “The High Street Cultural Programme is a step change in the way we think about bringing high streets back from the brink. As we start to see these important historic spaces become regenerated through building work, it is the community-led cultural work that helps people to enjoy their high street again and also have a say in what the future of their high street might be.” More information on the cultural programmes for Keynsham and Midsomer Norton will be announced in the coming months.