Carrick in heritage hunt for Lottery millions - but local backing is vital

Paul Reid, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, and Deputy Mayor Cheryl Johnston, with some of the actors who took part in an historical re-enactment in Carrickfergus previously.
Paul Reid, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, and Deputy Mayor Cheryl Johnston, with some of the actors who took part in an historical re-enactment in Carrickfergus previously.

Local people are well aware that history-soaked Carrickfergus is a great place – now Council needs public help to make it ‘official’.

The medieval stronghold – famed for its mighty Norman castle - is in the running for funding under the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) ‘Great Place Pilot Scheme’ competition for Northern Ireland.

The application seeks to promote heritage-led regeneration in the town through arts and culture, innovation and partnership working, and place Carrickfergus firmly on the heritage attraction map.

The proposed three-year programme is primarily people-focused and would support a diverse of activity including dance, theatre, music and visual arts, street festivals and events, among others.

Carrickfergus resident and Deputy Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Cheryl Johnston, said: “Heritage is vital source of economic activity as anyone who has visited the likes of York or Edinburgh will appreciate.

“For instance, recent research has indicated that the Northern Ireland historic environment generates circa £532million of output per annum and sustains around 10,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

“The Council is already in a partnership with the HLF for the delivery of Carrickfergus Townscape Heritage Initiative or THI - a project that aims to lever some £4million investment by the end of 2020 in the buildings that make up the town centre.

“The Great Place Scheme, if successful, would complement the THI and other planned council and partner investment, by supporting the development of heritage and arts events and activity in the heart of the historic town.”

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Paul Reid, added: “One of the key aims of the proposal is to encourage local residents to become involved in arts and heritage activity through a co-design and co-delivery approach where they would develop much of the programme themselves assisted by professional artists – essentially local groups and townsfolk leading the way.”

The public consultation for the proposed Carrickfergus Culture Hub project takes place at 7pm on the 15 November 2017 in the conference room in the town’s Dobbins Hotel.

There is no need to pre-book and we would welcome the local community, artists and arts and heritage groups as well as town centre traders to come and hear about the Great Place proposal.