Made possible by an initial investment of £1.5 million from Arts Council England through the Creative People and Places programme, it is steered by a consortium which brings together St Helens Rugby Football Club, Helena Partnerships housing group, FACT (Foundation for Art + Creative Technology), St Helens Council, St Helens Arts Partnership (Platform Arts, The Citadel arts centre and The World of Glass museum) as well as new partners St Helens College, Northwest Museum of Road Transport, Carers UK and Health Watch. The Heart of Glass programme is rooted in collaborative practice and embodies the principle of partnership.

Our core values, philosophy and approach as a project are founded on co- production with the community and the active participation of the collaborator, non-artist, audience and viewer in the creation of great art. People, both individually and within communities of place or interest, are central to both our thinking and our practice.

Heart of Glass is made with, of and for St Helens. Through our projects, we create a space for dialogue, research and experimentation for artists and citizens in which the inter-relationship between people and place can be explored, gathering and valuing diverse perspectives in the understanding, articulation and development of St Helens as a place, supporting people as constructors of that narrative, drawing out its ‘DNA’, and using that ‘DNA’ as a unique artistic platform for expression.


Sandwiched between Liverpool and Manchester, the imperative need for that space and dialogue for St Helens - and for other post-industrial, suburban towns across the north of England - is becoming ever more critical. Devolution, through which a number of powers and budgets are being transferred from central government to nominated city- regions, creates a potent political backdrop, while the continuing advance of austerity and increasing pressure on local authorities and public sector resources is having a cumulative and hard-felt impact on services. The inherent risk in both of these agendas is that those places unable to successfully articulate their own distinct narrative, and state their case with confidence, will become lost, as focus, and increasingly scarce resources, are targeted at those places with clearer, more cohesive and louder voices.

The arts have a powerful role to play in addressing this democratic deficit. Through increased participation in the arts, and active collaborations between communities of place and interest, and artists, Heart of Glass is supporting the development of work that directly reflects, challenges and questions the politics of our times. Our artistic programme examines the current and potential role of art and the artist in this post-industrial landscape by commissioning work that sees passionate, provocative and direct interactions between artists, people and place, creating the possibility through shared art making, dialogue and critique to imagine and express new futures and other ways of being.

Our first full year of programme has delivered dynamic collaborations that have changed the landscape of St Helens forever. This is true in literal terms, through the project Your Name Here, in which artist Joshua Sofaer activated a conversation with the entire town that resulted in a local park being renamed after one of its citizens in perpetuity. Also, historically, where theatre maker Marisa Carnesky collaborated with young women from across St Helens to produce Haunted Furnace, an immersive performance in a disused glass furnace, which brought forward the forgotten stories of the women who ran the factories. And philosophically, with artist Rhona Byrne turning a rugby stadium into an interactive sculpture park for And, on that note..., leading an audience of 2000, a choir of

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