ARTS and cultural groups in Colchester are to receive huge backing in proposals which could see them land £400,000 worth of funding.

The plans will be revealed at next Wednesday’s Colchester Council cabinet meeting and, if accepted, will see attractions such as Firstsite and Colchester Arts Centre be eligible to receive £100,000 a year.

It comes as a shift in the way organisations can apply for funding, moving towards a longer-term way of working to help support the town’s proud arts culture.

Darius Laws, Colchester Council portfolio holder for economy, business and heritage, said the council has an “amazing” relationship with the town’s arts organisations.

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“The relationship is so intertwined and we are really keen to support everything great going on in Colchester,” said Mr Laws.

“We’ve always made an annual contribution to their business plans and this has given them the opportunity to say they are backed by the council which helps when applying for grants elsewhere.

“Now, however, I think we should be looking at a longer-term approach which will give them more security.

“Guaranteeing these organisations a four-year grant will help them to better plan and gives them the recognition which shows we appreciate all the great stuff they’re doing.

“I want to give them the confidence to say: ‘Look, we love what you’re doing; keep going and we will back you’.”

The proposals will see approximately £100,000 committed to venues each year for four years, however successful applicants will be scrutinized to ensure positive work is being done.

“Our town centre is forever changing, it is no-longer just a destination to go shopping, there are lots of cultural and leisure attractions going on which makes it such a vibrant and exciting place,” added Mr Laws.

“The reality is the internet isn’t going to be turned off and so we have to accept a new reality. We need to take our heads out the sand seize the opportunities we’ve got.

“We should, and will be investing in our museums and cultural attractions to celebrate our heritage.

“We often forget just how many fantastic attractions there are in our town, it really is an attractive place to come and visit.

“People are already getting back out there post-Covid, we’ve seen some really good numbers of people walking through the doors of Colchester Castle.

“I think confidence is emerging, people feel safe to get back out and about and these places are ours to enjoy, we’re very lucky.

“We punch above our weight here and we have always been a vibrant arts and creative destination.”