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Fight for Ulverston arts venue says culture boss

THE director behind the largest cultural celebration in the history of modern Olympic and Paralympic movements says it is vital for the community to fight to keep a threatened Ulverston arts venue open.

Lanternhouse is set to close its programme of events on March 31 and cease trading on April 1, after losing Arts Council England funding last year and being unable to find an alternative business model.

But the board behind the centre, in The Ellers, is working to keep the facility open as a community arts venue, and has received expressions of interest from other organisations.

The charity is still looking for funding opportunities.

The committee has said the building will be in use over the coming month, and it wants that to continue with the support of the community.

Lanternhouse was chosen by Lakes Alive and one of Europe's leading outdoor arts companies, Les Commandos Percu, to rehearse the opening show of the London 2012 Festival.

Ruth Mackenzie, who is in charge of London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and its showpiece summer festival, said the cultural industry is essential for the local economy and job creation.

Ms Mackenzie says it is vital the community fights to save Lanternhouse.

She said: “It’s about rallying the community. Over and over again local communities have shown that they can shape their destiny and that they certainly have a direct voice and way to influence local authorities and these decisions are in the hands of the local authority.”

Denis McGeary, chairman of the Lanternhouse International board, welcomed the support of Ms MacKenzie and said he hoped local organisations would use the centre.

He said: “We are seeing how the situation changes from day to day. There has been expressions of interest in keeping the building and facilities running. We’d love local people to say ‘We want to help you’, because we will be able to help local people.”

Mr McGeary said South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria County Council have been supportive.


Ness Wilson, of Ulverston Community Arts Network, which organises the finale of the town’s Lantern procession and uses the warehouse at Lanternhouse, said: “Everyone wants to see Lanternouse keep going, it’s part of our heritage and it would be a big loss.

“We are supportive of the board and want a positive future for Lanternhouse.”

Have your say

Ruth MacKenzie… we know we have to put on a great show for the Olympics but the enormous cost has been raised through taking away funding from grass roots organisations, such as Lanternhouse. SLDC are not responsible nor able to save the organisation as it has been always been funded by Arts Council England. SLDC supports several organisations in South Lakes, £25000 to Lakes Alive, a fair bit to The Brewery and Grizedale Arts and I believe c £9000 to Lanternhouse. The costs of running a community venue are high as SLDC know from their outlay for the Coro.
Rumour has it that Barracudas want to move to Lanternhouse as they can no longer meet the high costs of their operations in Barrow. Another rumour is that Arts Council England want it handing over to the Kendal organisation Lakes Alive.
It is time the Board shared their ideas and concerns with the people of Ulverston who are always keen to get involved.

Posted by xwsi on 16 March 2012 at 12:51

never been in this place, as not an arty person. Just wonder what, other than the lantern pocession they do for the community with my council tax. all i can remember is pointless purple book, that i paid for with my hard earned taxes that came through every door in ulverston, which went in the blue bin. would the people of ulverston really miss the centre, other than the wonderful lantern pocession that one night a year?

Posted by nige on 16 March 2012 at 07:10

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