‘Wave of Art’ to connect communities along England’s waterways

The Canal & River Trust has joined forces with Arts Council England to install art connecting communities along some of England’s waterways.

A memorandum of agreement makes the trust able to work with professional and amateur artists and volunteers groups to produce art influenced by the places the waterways pass through.

 “Creativity has played an integral role in supporting our nation’s wellbeing through the challenges the last 16 months have presented” said Darren Henley, ACE’s CEO. “Cultural experiences have kept many of us feeling inspired, connected, and hopeful – just as England’s waterways have provided many with an outdoor space to unwind, reflect and stay active.”

As a result of the memorandum more people will be able to enjoy the 2,000 miles of urban and rural waterways snaking through landscapes and townscapes in what amounts to the country’s longest cultural space.

The programme will focus on areas facing socio-economic disadvantage, disconnected from creative hubs and opportunities, with local artists giving thousands of local people the chance to connect via their local canal or river.

 “The canals have provided invaluable breathing space for communities during the pandemic” said Richard Parry, the trust’s CEO. “The special partnership we have with Arts Council England will build on this recognition that they are unique places, with a new wave of arts projects that will improve wellbeing for local people, support artists, attract new visitors, and make life better by water.”

In 2021-22 arts projects will involve local people and various arts partners in waterside projects, including a cultural programme for the Coventry Canal as part of Coventry UK City of Culture, street art alongside canals in Sefton, Tottenham and Walsall, a floating short story boat project called Small Bells Ring, a series of participatory arts activities in Sheffield and Enfield called Hinterlands, and new audio works by women artists.

“The continuation of the Arts Council’s long-term relationship with the Canal & River Trust will ensure that more high quality and ambitious cultural offers punctuate our country’s great waterways at a time when they are needed most” Henley said. “Together, we will ensure that people from all backgrounds can experience the sheer joy and benefits of exploring creativity along the rivers and canals that flow through our country’s vibrant communities.”

Already the trust’s own arts programme has seen installations, concerts, plays, creative workshops, outdoor galleries, indoor exhibitions, floating libraries, street art, and reflections of the Canal Laureate, Nancy Campbell.



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