An exciting time for arts and leisure in the Lake District

The Brewery Arts Centre at Kendal

The Brewery Arts Centre at Kendal

First published in Opinion

South Lakeland and north Lancashire are already blessed with a cultural landscape few other areas could boast.

The Lakeland Arts Trust runs Abbot Hall Art Gallery and the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry in Kendal, plus Blackwell, the Arts and Craft House at Bowness.

And it is developing the Windermere Steamboat Museum, which is set to become a massive tourist attraction.

Kendal’s Brewery Arts Centre is a fantastic resource, with its mixture of restauants and bars, gallery spaces, theatre, cinema and music performances.

Coniston is home to Brantwood, plus the Ruskin Museum; Lancaster has the Dukes and Keswick has the Theatre by the Lake, one of the UK’s most important regional theatres.

There are numerous festivals and shows in the area, including Countryfest and the Holker Garden Festival, which last week attracted thousands of visitors.

The forthcoming Mintfest and Comic Art Festival bring a big economic boost to the district.

On top of all that, there is now news about proposals to create a Kurt Schwitters Merz Barn museum and contemporary art gallery at the Cylinders Estate site in the Langdale valley.

Interest is growing in the life and works of German artist Schwitters who, after fleeing the Nazis, lived in Ambleside as a refugee artist.

The fact that leading figures from the Arts Council, universities, funding organisations, businesses and tourism attended this week’s conference about the Langdale project are a strong indication of how seriously it is being taken.

At Kendal, meanwhile, plans to transform Kendal’s Canal Head into a ‘cultural quarter’ continue to move ahead, with the eventual aim of creating a ‘hub’ for artists and businesses, studios, galleries, performance space and cafes.

It all adds up to an exciting time for this area, with innovative schemes that are likely to make the Lake District an even more vibrant and enjoyable place to live and visit.

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