South Norwood is one of four London high streets announced today as receiving tens of thousands of pounds in grants from Historic England to help create High Street Heritage Action Zones – or the snazzily abbreviated HSHAZ.
Historic England say that the South Norwood grant, with £99,750 awarded to the Stanley Halls arts centre, will “create and deliver community-led cultural activities on their high streets over the next three years”.
The Stanley Halls were built 120 years ago by William Stanley, a locally-based inventor and engineer, who made his fortune from the design and manufacture of precision drawing and mathematical instruments.
As well as paying for the Stanley Halls to be built (and the country’s first trades school, Stanley Tech next door, now a Harris Academy), Stanley designed the buildings himself.
Today, announcing their own bit of philantropy for south London, Heritage England said, “South Norwood’s Cultural Programme will celebrate the spirit of invention, and how it has shaped our built environment, inspiring the innovation, philanthropy and sense of community that is as strong today as it was in William Stanley’s day.
“The cultural programme will build over three years, culminating in 2023 in a public celebration staged in the shadow of Stanley’s Clocktower. The programme will be centred on the lives of local people and foreground the integral role the high street plays in their daily lives, as a home of creativity and everyday invention.”
A programme of open commissions will showcase local creative innovation at locations including the Clocktower Market, along the High Street and at Stanley Halls.
“The High Streets Cultural Programme is such an important – and exciting – way of bringing people back to their cherished high streets in need of love,” said Historic England’s Emily Gee.
“We are working together to regenerate historic high streets through conservation and building work, and this community-led cultural activity programme will draw people back to enliven and shape these special places for the future.”
Daniel Wilder, the veue director at Stanley Halls,said, “The past year has brought unique challenges for us all.
“In response, the people of South Norwood have reached out, supporting each other through these difficult times in a myriad of different ways. This has demonstrated the resilience, heart and inventiveness of our local community.
“Culture can play a vital role in bringing life back to our communal spaces, filling them with the sights and sounds of everyday creativity and invention.”
As part of the national programme, Historic England is unofficially “twinning” towns, with artists working with local people to uncover what they have in common. South Norwood has been twinned with Leicester.
Artists Kaozara Oyalowo (based in Leicester) and Jessica Scott (South Norwood) are connecting with communities found around local launderettes. Their project Quiet Down There – Life through Laundry “will result in a limited edition ‘zine’ published this July”, Historic England said.
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