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News article created on 11 October 2016

Waterway arts project to put Worcestershire on the cultural map

A new arts project beginning next year will bring a fresh creative spirit to Worcestershire’s waterways.

View of bridge on Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal in Birmingham City Centre Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal

Led by the Trust, ‘The Ring’, will be an 18 month long series of events and commissions celebrating the region’s canals and rivers, focused around the 21 mile circle of waterways made up by the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, the Droitwich canals and the River Severn. Artists will draw their inspiration through working with local communities before reflecting on the area’s cultural heritage through their artwork, which could be anything from sculptures to performance pieces or installations.

The initiative is being paid for through contributions from a range of funders including; Arts Council England, the Canal & River Trust, Worcester City Council, Wychavon District Council, Worcestershire County Council, the Bransford Trust, the Elmley Foundation and the Rowlands Trust. A project team, including artistic director Cathy Mager and project manager Manda Graham, has been appointed to curate and guide the project.

Tim Eastop, producer of Arts on the Waterways for the Trust, said: "This project will bring some of the UK art scene’s best and brightest to Worcestershire, and we’re delighted to have the support of so many local partners as well as Arts Council England in making it happen. What’s really exciting about this project is that the field is open for artists to respond in any medium to the extraordinary cultural heritage of this ring of waterways – and this will make for a fantastically varied programme for everyone to enjoy and participate in."

Several locations for the art works are being considered in Worcestershire:

  • Diglis Canal Basins: A short walk from Worcester City centre. Diglis Canal Basins lie at the junction of the Worcester-Birmingham Canal and the River Severn, with the layout largely the same as when it opened in 1815
  • The Commandery: Close to Sidbury lock, in the medieval heart of Worcester, the Commandery is a complex of timber framed buildings that was the HQ of the Royalist army during the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and is now a public visitor attraction
  • Hanbury Canal Junction: the junction of the historic Worcester & Birmingham Canal and the Droitwich canals
  • Hawford Canal Junction:  the gateway to the Droitwich Barge Canal from the River Severn
  • Netherwich Canal Basin: the terminus of the Barge Canal where larger vessels came in to pick up salt from the brine springs.

Cathy Mager, artistic director of ‘The Ring’, said: "I have many happy memories of exploring the rivers and canals in the area with my family as a child. It’s a great privilege to be selected to lead this exciting initiative and I look forward to working alongside Manda Graham and our exceptional team of local partners. Together we will embark on an imaginative exploration of this region’s urban and rural heritage, the people that live here, and their dreams for the future. What we learn and discover will inspire an ambitious and daring new arts programme to captivate and draw in audiences near and far."

An initial programme of activities is expected to be announced early in 2017.