A VIGIL for arts survival is being organised at a Lake District site dedicated to a refugee who became one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

The 24-hour vigil at Merz Barn, Cylinders Estate, Elterwater, Langdale will culminate with a tribute to artists persecuted by the Nazi regime in Germany.

The site is the home of the last of German-born Kurt Schwitters' Merbau experiments.

The event marks the 80th anniversary of an exhibition in Munich which ridiculed modern art and featured a painting by Kurt Schwitters, pictured above the head of Adolf Hitler when he visited the show.

On the evening of July 19 1937, the Nazi's formally launched their 'Degenerate Art' Entartete Kunst campaign against all forms of modern art and many modern artists, with the opening of the Entartete Kunst exhibition.

One of the results was it led to the emigration of artists and the spread of modern art throughout the world.

The painting hanging at a skewed angle over Hitler's head by Kurt Schwitters had earlier been confiscated for display at the Entartete Kunst exhibition.

Exactly ten years later in July 1947, Schwitters now living in Britain as a refugee, began work on his third and last Merz Barn experiment; the extraordinary Elterwater Merz Barn project.

Artists, curators, community leaders and members of the public are being invited to attend the Vigil for Arts Survival event, which involves the lighting of 80 candles throughout the day to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Entartete Kunst exhibition in Munich.

The project runs for 24 hours, from 8am on Wednesday July 19 through to 8am the following morning (20th July).

There will be somebody at the Merz Barn during these times and tea, coffee and refreshments will be available.

From 8pm to 9pm on Wednesday July 19, there will be a programme of readings, sacred songs and prayers by various community, arts and faith groups, including a reading of the Kaddish (prayer of the dead) by Rabbi Robert Ash from the Lancaster and Lakes Jewish Community.

Ian Hunter, Merz Barn project Director, said: “We hope as many people as possible can join us for this historic event and to commemorate the important contribution that migrant and refugee artists have, and are continuing to, to contribute to British life and culture.”