Arts and heritage organisation and charity Our Big Picture has acquired iconic Grade II listed buildings dating from 1781 at 17 to 21 Bethlehem Street, Grimsby as a permanent home.
Formally known as Canters Estate Agents and The Gentry hairdressers, the acquisition process has taken nearly a year working closely with the previous owner, key funders and stakeholders. The buildings and yard will be turned into flexible and adaptable creative spaces, enabling Our Big Picture and the wider creative community to engage with more people and expand the range and scope of the arts and heritage projects.
Our Big Picture is an arts and heritage charity based in NE Lincolnshire, that believe that everyone has the right to art in their lives. They deliver positive art and heritage experiences where nobody is excluded, including public artwork, exhibitions in public spaces, young people activities including the Imaginarium, children and family workshops and drop-in art sessions, events, and online activities.
Paula Denton, CEO of Our Big Picture, said: “It has been a long process and we thank our funders and stakeholders for their continued support and belief in the project. We feel really privileged to be the custodian of this building, an exciting future legacy for the arts and culture of the town.
“The building will have a studio and different creative spaces but it will very much be a place of exploration of a variety of community-led thematic projects from our local heritage to social issues, finding new and creative collaborations.”
With the support from Heritage Lincolnshire Our Big Picture were successful in gaining support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and were awarded a grant of nearly £170,000 made possible by money raised by National Lottery players in April 2022. The funding was awarded to assist with the purchase of the building and a two-year programme of heritage activities, with a key focus on engaging a wider range of people in heritage and the arts.
Our Big Picture has been supported by funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund to undertake a thorough assessment of the building’s viability, as well as to develop detailed plans for a larger capital scheme (to RIBA Stage 4).
The building acquisition was finally secured in May after a successful application to one of North East Lincolnshire Council’s Towns Fund programmes – the Activation and Community Engagement Fund. Our Big Picture were awarded £50,000 to bring arts and culture directly to the high street and contribute to the Town Plan and Heritage Action Zone.
Future funding is being sourced to continue the restoration of the building to develop it as a 21st Century Arts and Culture Centre.
David Renwick, director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We’re delighted to have supported Our Big Picture to acquire these wonderful heritage sites in the centre of Grimsby that will now become their permanent home. Grimsby, and North East Lincolnshire as a whole, holds incredibly diverse and fascinating histories, but in recent years the area has not received the funding to showcase these stories more widely.
“Here at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, we’ve committed to ensuring that areas which have not benefitted from high levels of investment are given the opportunity to use their stories to bring communities together and instil a real sense of pride of place for people.
“Thanks to National Lottery players, we’re delighted to see that Our Big Picture can continue building on their fantastic work and giving the communities of North East Lincolnshire an opportunity to explore that heritage.”
Cllr Tom Furneaux, North East Lincolnshire Council’s cabinet member for culture, heritage and the visitor economy, said: “I’m delighted that this heritage building has been secured for future use with the help of our Towns Fund programme, helping to secure additional investment from The National Lottery Heritage Fund into Grimsby.
“It’s projects like this that help us, in partnership with others, deliver the Town Centre Masterplan, Heritage Action Zone and Creativity Strategy in Grimsby, and I’d like to applaud Our Big Picture for taking this brave step and bringing a new offer to local people.”
Our Big Picture has also offered the Grimsby, Cleethorpes and District Civic Society a home at the premises and a point of contact for the organisation and supporting them in their valuable role in the regeneration of the town.
Alan Nicholson, Grimsby, Cleethorpes & District Civic Society, said: “We welcome the news that this iconic building in Grimsby’s Town Centre, has a new owner and that its future is secured. The planned use of this building will be of great benefit to the continued culture of North East Lincolnshire, and the Civic Society is proud to be associated with this venture.”
Our Big Picture is looking to move into the buildings once initial utility works have been completed and be based at the site by the beginning of July 2022. Studio space and other creative opportunities will be promoted within the coming weeks and months.
Image shows Paula Denton, CEO of Our Big Picture, in front of the old Canters building