ARTS in Barrow will continue to thrive following a four-year plan which will see more than £1m flow into the area.

Yesterday Arts Council England revealed which groups across the UK will benefit from its latest round of funding.

Cumbria is a major winner, with more than £14m earmarked for the development of the arts over the coming years.

Three Barrow groups are among the beneficiaries of this funding. Combined, Art Gene, Octopus Collective and Ashton Group will receive more than £1m between 2018 and 2022.

Glenn Boulter is one of the founders of the Octopus Collective who run out of Piel View House in Barrow Park.

Mr Boulter said the amount of money destined for his group, £280,928, and for the town in general was in effect a vote of confidence for the talent of the local arts scene.

He said: "It's really good that every group in Barrow that had been funded has been funded again.

"I think all three of us are still at the lowest end of the funding scale compared to the rest of the country but, to get funding for three companies in a small town speaks a lot about the quality of what everyone is doing, and the Arts Council has recognised that."

Jane Beardsworth, the Arts Council’s north director, said: "We are delighted to support the cultural sector in Cumbria. There is a wealth of creative talent, making and showing work for residents and visitors alike.

"Some of it responds to the unique Cumbrian landscape or to the concerns of local people in a creative response that resonates locally, nationally, and internationally. Our national portfolio is very competitive so we congratulate all the successful applicants and will continue to support other work in Cumbria through our other funding programmes.”

Art Gene, based in Bath Street, will receive £440,000 in funding from the Arts Council from 2018.

One of the group's co-founders Maddi Nicholson said the allocation of funding was "fabulous" news for the town.

She said: "It's fabulous, what a relief, all the hard work has paid off. Now the hard work starts making it all happen."

Ms Nicholson is now facing a long planning process, creating a vision on how the huge sum of money will be spent over the next four years.

She continued: "Thinking ahead, planning finances, planning ahead, it's a big, epic amount of work."

However, similar to Mr Boulter, she believes the fact that three Barrow groups have been funding is a massive shot in the arm for the arts community in Barrow.

She said: "More than anything it's good for Barrow, that's fabulous. It's a big vote of confidence. We're doing great work and having that recognised, being way out West can be frightening but we've shown you do do cutting edge work in communities here, and get that acknowledged.

"We feel very lucky, it's fabulous for the town."

In total, there will be more than £400m spent on arts projects across the North between 2018-22. As well as developing already established arts ventures in cities such as Manchester, there will be focus ensuring that rural areas are not left behind.

Sarah Maxfield, North area director for Arts Council England said: “Our new portfolio in the North will reach more people in more places. Culture has a role to play in all our communities from the major cities to the North’s most rural areas – it brings us together, provides joy and solace, and builds a sense of identity – and contributes to our economy too. I’m delighted that we have the opportunity to support such a range of excellent cultural organisations delivering to audiences and participants across the North. Our increased investment will mean that these organisations will be able to deliver great arts and cultural experiences for audiences and participants across the whole area.”

There is still work to do according to one of the groups who received funding.

Rachel Ashton, artistic director for the Ashton Group, said she was relieved but realistic over the funding situation. Her group will see more than £300,000 come its way over four years.

Her theatre group is devoted to building the prospects of young people, who are involved in every aspect of the work produced by Ashton.

She said: "It's a great relief, because there is such a squeeze on projects, we really rely on the Arts Council."

Arts funding was one of the first victims of the policies of austerity introduced under the coalition government. Ms Ashton recognises how fortunate groups like hers were in being able to secure continued funding.

She said: "There are about 600 groups who get funding at this level, we're not just competing in our own art form, but against all art forms across the country.

"We still have work to do, we have to match this funding from elsewhere, we're lucky that the Sir John Fisher Foundation contributes to the work that we do."