The organiser of Penrith’s Winter Droving has been awarded more than £100,000 to help it recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Eden Arts, which also normally runs several projects throughout the year, was awarded £81,269 from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
It has also been awarded £27,500 for its Cine North project, which is a network of community cinemas, often in village halls.
A spokesman said: “Welcoming audiences of around 16,000 across 350 screenings in 60 venues through rural towns and villages in the north of England, Cine North provides vital support to village halls, groups and isolated audiences in areas where there is little or no access to cinema or events.
“During 2020, just 34 screenings were able to take place.”
Many of Eden Arts’ projects have been unable to take place throughout the last 12 months including The Winter Droving, usually welcoming 25,000 people to Penrith; Young Cumbrian Artist of The Year Exhibition, for 16-24-year-olds taking place at the University of Cumbria, Artist Spare Room, a programme of artist residencies at Penrith Old Fire Station, and Picnic Cinema, were cancelled or severely impacted.
Eden Arts estimates it has reached 500,000 people as live audiences or participants over the past five years and as a vital part of the regional cultural economy they employ around 150 creative freelancers, artists and casual staff each year.
Eden Arts director Adrian Lochhead said: “We know how important our charity’s work is to the community in Eden and across the north and I am sure that people will understand that small organisations such as ours operate on the tightest of margins and are quite fragile.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have been working across our projects with a severely reduced staff team.
“Thanks to the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund we can ensure we will be #HereForCulture for 2021 and beyond, and we are able to create more full time and part-time jobs at the company.
“This will give us the capacity needed to deliver the excellent, high-quality arts experiences the audiences in Eden Valley and Cumbria have become accustomed to through our previous work.
“In the years leading to 2020 Eden Arts was operating sustainably and continuing on track with its ambitious five-year plan for growth and development.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have been able to make great strides in our strategic projects at local council and government level, and have a lot of cultural projects on the horizon which will benefit Cumbrians and people across the north soon.
“We know that people are crying out for connection, cultural spaces, festivals and events after a year of being locked down in our houses.”
The popular Winter Droving festival usually brings around £2million in on the day spending to Penrith and offers Cumbrian bands a chance to perform in front of thousands of revellers alongside nationally renowned and international acts.
The event was successfully re-imagined in October 2020 with a projection event in St Andrews Churchyard that took place over four nights with around 1,000 people visiting the projections under strict COVID-19 guidelines.
The event celebrated the local community and previous volunteers of the festival, with over 100 people being nominated to feature in the piece, around the theme of care.