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More than £1m for library services and popular Wolverhampton heritage attraction

More than £1 million will be ploughed into library services and a popular heritage attraction in the region.

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Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton

The government has announced funding for Wightwick Manor in Wolverhampton, which is managed by the National Trust, as well as Walsall and Staffordshire library services.

A further £3.7m has been given to Walsall Council to support the transformation of the vacant Grade II listed Guildhall building, in St Matthew’s Quarter, into a Creative Industries Enterprise Centre.

Spread over five floors, it will contain flexible working spaces, a café, specialist machine rooms, exhibition and workshop space.

The cash has been secured through the government's Cultural Investment Fund, Libraries Improvement Fund and Museum Estate and Development Fund.

Wightwick Manor has been given £658,260, Staffordshire Libraries will get £265,000 and Walsall Libraries will be handed £202,349.

The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent will also receive £5 million to build a wrap-around extension to improve facilities and accessibility and support local education, health and wellbeing projects.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, who announced the beneficiaries of the Cultural Investment Fund across the country today, said: “This funding will support brilliant arts organisations to upgrade their venues and create new projects that will be at the heart of their communities.”

Walsall Council bosses said the funding the authority will receive will enable the Guildhall building to be transformed into a vibrant Creative Industries Enterprise Centre.

The Guildhall building, located on High Street, Walsall

Run by Urban Hax – a local non-profit creative community interest company, it will include support and facilities for creatives to run and grow creative businesses and projects across art, science and technology.

It will also have a café, gallery space for creative organisations to exhibit their work and conference facilities.

Councillor Adrian Andrew, deputy leader and portfolio holder for regeneration Walsall Council, said: “This funding is a great endorsement of our continued work to drive innovation and regeneration across the Borough.

"Once known as the ‘Town of a 100 Trades’, Walsall’s rich creative heritage continues to this day. This project will champion Walsall’s unique offer and secure the area as a great place to live, work, visit and invest.”

The overall project will be delivered through local partnerships with Urban Hax, The New Art Gallery Walsall and Walsall Cultural Compact.

The Guildhall building on High Street, Walsall was built in 1867 by G B Nicols.

It was formerly a courthouse which once facilitated council chambers and a magistrate court.

The fund, which totals more than £200 million and was launched in 2019, is made up of three separate streams, the Cultural Development Fund, the Libraries Improvement Fund and the Museum Estate and Development Fund.

It is designed to protect and improve people’s access to culture, regenerate communities, upgrade buildings and digital infrastructure and use investment to promote economic growth.

In this round of funding, £32.4 million has gone to eight Cultural Development Fund projects, £4.9 million to 27 projects as part of the Libraries Improvement Fund and £21.4 million has gone to 36 museums through the Museum Estate and Development Fund.

The Cultural Development Fund aims to level up through investment in culture.

The £20.5 million Libraries Improvement Fund will transform library services in England by helping them upgrade their buildings and improve digital infrastructure, so they are better placed to respond to the changing ways people are using them.

Local authorities can bid for the money on behalf of their library services.

The £86.6 million Museum Estate and Development Fund helps fund urgent museum maintenance and infrastructure works.