Procession of people carrying banners
© Lance Tabraham, London College of Fashion
© Lance Tabraham, London College of Fashion

High Streets Heritage Action Zones Cultural Programme

Four years of nationwide cultural activity helping to make high streets more attractive, engaging and vibrant places for people to live, work and spend time.

The High Streets Heritage Action Zones Programme is a nationwide initiative designed to secure lasting improvements to our historic high streets for the communities who use them. It's funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and run by Historic England.

One of the major aims of the programme is to help people feel proud of where they live. The Cultural Programme is a key part of this. There is £7.4 million available to fund four years of cultural activities to engage communities with their local high streets, and celebrate the role and importance of these historic areas as hubs of the community. 

Historic England is leading the Cultural Programme in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which is awarding £3 million. The programme is divided into two strands:

National commissions programme

Our national commissions programme will work with artists and creative organisations across the country to celebrate and showcase our high streets. It comprises cultural programming, co-created with communities and delivered by artists, to provide a creative response to document and reflect the High Street across the whole period of the programme until 2024.

£1.2 million (of the total £7.4 million) will be made available to artists and cultural organisations who can apply to work with us on a variety of commissions over the course of four years.

Commissions for 2020-21

High Street Tales

Storytellers will capture the everyday magic of high streets, working with local people to record local legends to create a set of short stories about today’s high street launched in early 2021.

Closed for applications.

Connect commissions

An open call for five artists to propose projects that join and connect high streets that may be distant geographically, but close in experiences and spirit. The five artists will release their work in November 2021.

Open for applications - deadline 12 midnight Monday 2 November

Outdoor arts

A large-scale outdoor celebration of the high street, happening across multiple regions and high streets, to be commissioned in 2020, and delivered summer 2023.

Open for applications - deadline 5pm Thursday 22 October

Photography commission

A four-year photography project to creatively document the changing face of the nation’s high street coming to a conclusion in 2024

Open for applications - deadline 5.10pm Thursday 22 October

Get involved

Briefs can be found on our portal as and when they are live. If you are a cultural organisation looking to get involved, you can:

Local grants programme

This is the second strand of our Cultural Programme.

The local grants programme will be delivered in the form of grants distributed through cultural consortia set up by local authorities on each high street. £3 million of this funding is being provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The consortia are made up of local cultural organisations, creatives, heritage and community groups, and will develop a programme of activities and events to celebrate the local character and heritage of each location, making our high streets a key place to experience and participate in culture.

The grant funding is only available to participating High Street Heritage Action Zones. You can contact [email protected] for more information.

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