Barnoldswick & Earby Time, Colne Times and Nelson Leader Column: Friday 1st March 2019

Last week I visited Earnie’s in Colne which will open soon in the former Kippax building, which has been empty for years.

Earnie’s will be a new indoor centre for all ages – roller skating, airsoft, adventure golf, scare mill and food hall. Then yesterday the Leisure Box at Brierfield Mill, Burnley FC in the Community’s state-of-the-art Leisure facility opened its doors. The Leisure Box includes climbing walls, an indoor 4G pitch, cricket nets, dance studio and children’s play area. Both hugely exciting developments which will I am sure will attract lots of people.

Alongside the Leisure Box at Brierfield Mills you have In-Situ, who had launched their new arts space ‘The Garage’ in November. The Garage helps highlight the fantastic work being done by Pendle artists. The work of our local artists reflects both the strong multiculturalism and traditional roots of our area, and I believe that much more can be done to ensure that Pendle artists gain further recognition.

Pendle has always been the home to countless artists, and I find visits to the artist studios at Higherford Mill, or art exhibitions at the Pendle Heritage Centre, the ACE centre in Nelson or Kelbrook Village Hall really show the breadth and depth of talent we have locally. Local landscape painters Keith Melling, who has an art gallery in Fence, and John Corcoran, have for years produced pictures that really do encapsulate the natural beauty of our local area.

Whilst some local artists can make a good living from their work and others do it just for fun, a great deal of local artists’ work is assisted by funding from Arts Council England. In-Situ, for example, has been awarded two grants by the Arts Council to run their projects in Pendle.

Art is also an integral part of an enriching and varied education. A number of Pendle schools are participating in the Artsmark programme, which gives young people the opportunity to develop their own creativity. I would particularly like to commend the teachers and students of Lomeshaye Junior School, who have achieved the Artsmark Silver Award.

Our thriving art scene is just one of the many things that makes Pendle a great place to live. I will continue to lobby the Government to investment in the arts to help our artists gain the national and international audiences they deserve.