A PROJECT to breathe new life into Cornish towns and villages is making use of empty shops in Launceston town centre, helping to repurpose disused buildings.
Tresorys Kernow, which has received a total of £579,973 from the Government’s UK Community Renewal Fund, is a pilot programme led by Cornwall Museums Partnership and delivered in partnership with Creative Kernow to reinvigorate town centres through an imaginative programme of cultural events.
A central part of the project is the ‘Studios on The High Street’ initiative, which has been bolstered by a £22,000 investment as part of the funding and provides a programme of residencies for artists and creative practitioners for ten weeks. Two empty shops and part of the White Hart Hotel are being used as temporary studios and galleries for Cornish artists.
Sixteen artists — including six individuals and a collective of ten artists — have been awarded residencies as part of the project, with workshops, exhibitions and drop-in sessions running throughout. Launceston locals can enjoy arts and culture on their doorstep in these previously underused areas.
Swanskin Print Collective and creative partnership Karen Howse and Lydia Christine can be found at 15 to 17 Church Street with Janie M McDonald, Peter Ursem and Richard Hudson at Hayman’s at 22 Church Street. Sam Akroyd can be found at The White Hart Hotel on Broad Street.
Janie M McDonald, one of the artists taking part in the Studios on The High Street initiative, said: “I am really enjoying the opportunity to think and work on a larger scale, and it is so useful to be able to talk to people about my work.
“They are contributing photos and doodles that relate to their special landmarks around the town which will feed into the work I am making about Launceston.”
Tom Bennett, project manager for Tresorys Kernow at Cornwall Museums Partnership, added: “A huge part of Tresorys Kernow is about working with local people to bring arts and cultural treasures to the forefront in their town, and using their stories to bring our projects to life.
“It’s really rewarding to see these properties being put to new use – and to see our artists working at the heart of the community and engaging with people in the town.”
Running from April to June, Tresorys Kernow aims to strengthen communities by working in collaboration with local people to produce a rich treasure trove of activities and events.
Creative Kernow has distributed £100,000 of the funding in the five towns of Saltash, Lostwithiel, St Austell, Penzance and Newquay through cultural partners, artists and freelancers who will deliver exciting programmes across the high streets.
Cornwall Museums Partnership has distributed £100,000 of the funding to deliver the project in five of the ten towns, working alongside museums teams – Bodmin Keep, Charles Causey Trust in Launceston, The Castle in Bude, Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro and PK Porthcurno.
The project is fully funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund and managed by Cornwall Council as the Lead Authority.
Cornwall Council portfolio holder for economy, Cllr Louis Gardner said: “This exciting project, led by the expertise of our internationally renowned cultural organisations and focused on taking over empty shops in Launceston, will be a valuable testbed.
“How this works as high streets change and evolve, and how it is received as another way to help revitalise our towns and villages, will help shape how the future of high street rejuvenation is delivered across Cornwall.”
The programme will also explore how communities can adapt to climate change and respond to the benefits of their natural surroundings.
To find out more about what’s happening as part of the Studios on The High Street initiative, visit cornwall365.com/events?s=Studios+on+the+High+Street