This year was the first time library services were able to apply for this recognition -which is given to some of the best arts practice in the world – but St Helens Library Service was always in a strong position as it has delivered Cultural Hubs: Arts in Libraries programme since 2013, winning the Best Art Project category of the National Lottery Awards in 2016.
The Library Service will now need to submit a business plan to Arts Council England by December 2017, and will form a board- type group to oversee the Cultural Hubs project to decide how the money – £110,000 per year- will be allocated over the next four years to develop the project further.
Commenting on the National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status, Councillor Sue Murphy, St Helens Councils portfolio holder for library services, said:
“It’s an honour for our library service to be among the first seven library services in the country to achieve this recognition and it is a great testimony to our Cultural Hubs project -which we’re extremely proud of – and of course to our team of dedicated library staff who without, such projects would not be possible.
“This funding will allow our library service to reach out to even more people though arts-based performances, plays, music gigs, exhibitions and workshops, to let the public know that there’s a lot more to our library service than just books.”
Eamonn McManus, Chair of St Helens RFC and Chair of the St Helens Economy Board, said:
“This Arts Council announcement is an endorser of that ambition and further reinforces St Helens growing reputation for arts and culture activity. As an Economy Board and Ambassadors for St Helens we know how important arts and culture will be and it is great to such an investment being made in the borough.”