Bridgwater Carnival receives £650k to revamp semi-derelict centre

Queen Anne's Revenge by Wick CC at Bridgwater Carnival 2023
Queen Anne's Revenge by Wick CC at Bridgwater Carnival 2023 -Credit:Daniel Clark/DevonLive

Somerset's historic Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival has been awarded hundreds of thousands of pounds to redevelop its semi-derelict centre. The organisation behind the yearly event, which takes place on the first Saturday in November, has received £650,000 from Arts Council England's Capital Investment Programme.

The cash will be used to fund purpose-built workshop facilities and create better access to historical archives and technical skill development with the local community.

The carnival - the oldest of its kind in the UK - is one of eight cultural organisations in the South West of England to receive a grant.

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Among other organisations to secure funding was Wesley Community and Arts Centre in the Forest of Dean, which was awarded £180,000 to transform a former grade-II listed church into an arts centre, and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council, which was awarded £450,000 to improve the physical and digital presence of Poole Museum.

Phil Gibby, South West area director for Arts Council England, said: “It's not just bricks and mortar - with better buildings comes improved accessibility, new technology and a reduced environmental footprint. This public funding comes at a crucial time and matters more than ever to staff, volunteers and visitors. We can't wait to see plans take shape.”

Darren Henley, chief executive at Arts Council England said the funding would increase opportunities for people to enjoy "creatively excellent" cultural events near where they live. He added: "It’s particularly important we’re making this happen in communities where cultural investment has historically been low."

Arts Council England funded projects in the South West

  • Bridgwater Carnival, Somerset: South West Regional Carnival Centre, £650,000 (2023/24)

  • BCP Council (Poole Museum), Dorset: temporary gallery and art and design gallery, £450,000 (2023/24)

  • The Plough Arts Centre, Devon: visitor experience, £245,000 (2024/25)

  • Cinderford Town Council, Gloucestershire: The Wesley Community & Arts Centre in the Forest of Dean, £180,000 (2024/25)

  • Burton Art Gallery and Museum, Devon: a sustainable museum, £120,000 (2023/24)

  • Theatre Alibi, Exeter: equipment to transform old church into community venue, £115,000 (2024/25)

  • Swindon Dance, Wiltshire: facilities development, £100,000 (2024/25)

  • Travaux Sauvages t/a Wildworks, Cornwall: portable and sustainable equipment for theatre. Truro and Falmouth, £100,000 (2024/25)