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Chief Executive of Historic England to speak at our 'Cultural Cities' forum

The Chief Executive of Historic England, Duncan Wilson is to speak at our 'Cultural Cities' forum in January 2021. He joins Director of V&A East, Gus Casely-Hayford at the event which will also include developers, architects and planners.

Duncan Wilson became Chief Executive of the new formed Historic England in May 2015. He joined from the Alexandra Park and Palace Trust where he was Chief Executive from 2011 to 2015. From 2002 Duncan was Chief Executive of the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College, and before that Director of the Somerset House Trust. He has been a trustee of the Churches Conservation Trust (2008-2017) and a trustee of the Royal Armouries (2007-2011) and a community governor of Corelli College in Greenwich (2004-2007).

Historic England has been instrumental in helping many organisations look after cultural and heritage assets during the pandemic. Its latest announcement is the funding that Blackpool Tower Ballroom is to receive (£764,000) from the Government's £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. Funding will enable Blackpool Tower Ballroom to repair plasterwork, giving the legendary venue a new lease of life.

The Blackpool Tower Ballroom is the latest of over 800 heritage sites and organisations to benefit from lifeline grants delivered by Historic England from the Government's Culture Recovery Fund. The ballroom, one of the Grade 1 listed Tower Buildings first opened to the public 126 years ago, and is considered by many to be the home of ballroom dancing in the UK.

Millions of television viewers will recognise the spectacular 19th century venue for its role in Strictly Come Dancing's annual ballroom special. The work to the venue's plasterwork ceiling will be undertaken during the building's current period of closure, providing work to local specialists.

Historic England states that funding received by Blackpool Tower Ballroom brings the total to £1.6 million that has so far been awarded to heritage sites in Blackpool - part of the £115 million that has been awarded to heritage sites across the country in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These include more than £39 million in grants awarded to kickstart construction and maintenance projects that have been paused due to the pandemic.

This important funding is from the Heritage Stimulus Fund - funded by Government and administered at arms length by Historic England. The Heritage Stimulus fund is part of the Government's £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, which is designed to preserve the future of Britain's museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.

Historic England's Duncan Wilson, said: 'Blackpool Tower Ballroom has played a hugely significant role in the history and popular culture of our country for over 125 years, as a landmark in British seaside architecture and tourism, to the special place it holds in the nation's heart as the iconic venue for TV's Strictly Come Dancing.

'In these challenging times, our shared heritage is more important than ever. This vital funding will allow essential repairs to take place, providing employment for skilled craft workers and ensuring that we preserve this much-loved ballroom for everyone to enjoy, both now and in the future.'

Blackpool Tower ballroom (Picture: Michael D Beckwith - Creative Commons)


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