Image of CAST, photo Juliet Welch.

The Trustees of the Cornubian Arts & Science Trust announced on 6 November 2023, that CAST, has been awarded £705,374 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to enable ‘CAST rehabilitation phase two’, a programme of renovations that will secure the future of the building as an essential part of Helston’s cultural provision. Cornwall Council has been chosen by Government as a Lead Authority for the fund and is responsible for monitoring the progress of projects funded through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Eleven years have now passed since CAST took on the semi-derelict former school building in Penrose Road, with the intention of creating studios for artists and hosting cultural events. The initial work to create studios was supported by investment from the European Union and Defra through the Rural Development Programme for England. A substantial grant from Arts Council England’s Small Capital scheme followed, enabling the refurbishment of public areas and the creation of CAST’s warm and welcoming Café. Then, in 2018, when CAST developed Groundwork – an ambitious cross-Cornwall programme of contemporary art – the former school assembly hall was converted into a state-of-the-art black box screening space, which now hosts CAST’s popular talks and screening evenings as well as installations of moving image work by internationally acclaimed artists. More recently the creation of a new open-access ceramic studio was supported by European funding through the Community Led Local Development programme .

However, major renovation work is still needed to ensure that this fine old building, originally given to Helston by the philanthropist John Passmore Edwards as a school of science and art, can continue to serve the community for many years to come. Funding received from the Shared Prosperity Fund will primarily enable the replacement of roofs and installation of solar panels in the 1913 section of the building and essential renovations to access routes and public areas. It will also support the development of CAST’s work with schools and young people, the provision of free creative activities for children and families, and other exciting programming yet to be announced. 

Louis Gardner, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for economy said: “Community, place and creative economy are a key investment priority under the Shared Prosperity Fund. The determination and commitment from CAST to providing cultural and educational opportunities for the local community is to be celebrated and this funding will ensure they can do this for many years to come.”

Former Mayor Tim Grattan-Kane, a long-term supporter of CAST, expressed his pleasure at seeing the future of the building secured: “Building on the legacy of John Passmore Edwards, CAST has made a huge difference to the social and cultural landscape of this town. I am delighted that their important contribution is being recognised with this very significant grant.”

News of the Shared Prosperity funding has also been warmly welcomed and celebrated by Helston residents, with responses to CAST’s social media posts flooding in: 

@thebookshopinhelston 

This is wonderful news! These funds don’t come easily – thank you for your tenacity and patience!

@anthonybryant_wood

Fantastic news for CAST and the whole Helston community.
Such grants are only awarded to those that are able and willing to give so much… and should be applauded by ‘One and All’ – A

@KatrinConnolly

This is such lovely news and fabulous for the town Thank you @castcornwall 

@portraitstudiocornwall

fantastic news, such a special place

@tomfromhelston

Congratulations to all involved with this. Keep doing what you’re doing for Helston and the wider community

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK by investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. 

For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-shared-prosperity-fund-prospectus.