Plans for new museum as part of Stevenage’s arts and culture boost

As part of the new strategy there are plans to relocate Stevenage Museum, which is currently underne

As part of the new strategy there are plans to relocate Stevenage Museum, which is currently underneath St Andrew and St George's Church on St Georges Way. Picture: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

Relocating the existing museum, creating a new one, and transforming cycle underpasses in Stevenage into mini art galleries are just some of the ideas being considered as part of plans to boost arts and culture across the borough.

Stevenage Reimagined is a 10-year strategy that's being drawn up to make Stevenage a 'destination creative town'.

Its wide-ranging proposals include plans to boost performance arts and music skills, to create a public art trail with interactive artwork, and to transform empty spaces until they have a new use.

It also includes proposals to upgrade the town's theatre offer and relocate Stevenage Museum.

The strategy has been backed unanimously by councillors, recognising the impact culture can have on health, wellbeing, education, skills and the economy.

Councillors have been shown how a cycle underpass can be transformed into an interactive art gallery - with decoration, enhanced lighting, artworks and even audio messages about the art.

Hedley Swain, from Arts Council England, has highlighted the economic, social and education benefits of arts and culture.

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He said there is a strong economic case for investment in culture, which attracts people to the area, makes them want to live there and keeps them there longer.

He also pointed to evidence that experiences of culture could reduce social exclusion and make communities safer and stronger - as well as helping children do better at school.

He encouraged Stevenage councillors to bid for further funding from the arts council.

"We want more of our money to be spent in Stevenage," said Mr Swain. "We want to partner your investment. It's only up to you how ambitious you want to be."

The strategy includes relocating the existing museum on St Georges Way to a central location, with an aspiration to develop the first New Town Museum.

Council leader Sharon Taylor said: "I would love to see a New Town Museum in Stevenage, reflecting the truly visionary work of the pioneers of New Town architecture and the community they created in the wonderful town we live in.

"I hope we can talk to Arts Council England about doing just that."