Views to shape future of a ‘cultural icon’

Preston's Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library
Preston's Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library
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Families from across Preston and beyond are being asked their views on the city’s iconic Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library.

A consultation has been launched about the future of the “beacon of arts and learning”, ahead of a multi-million pound bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Leaders say they are looking at new income streams and external investments in the face of cuts to council funding, which could include hosting events such as weddings.

Jon Finch, project leader for the re-imagining the Harris project, said: “We are creating a new, ambitious future for the Harris. A future with the Harris at the centre of a creative Preston, and at the heart of a thriving Lancashire.

“We’re talking about broadening our appeal, yet also ensuring we continue to provide a vibrant offer and visitor experience.

“It’s about seeking new investment and new opportunities to work more closely with communities and our burgeoning creative arts sector.

“It’s about being a supporter of future city centre re-development and a hub for cultural tourism and information.

“The vision is as ambitious as the challenges are real.

“Across Preston and Lancashire, council funding is being cut and, quite rightly, the Harris is not immune.

“So we have to be ambitious and look for new ways of funding and generating income – to make the Harris more sustainable.

“This will help stimulate new, multi-million pound external investment into the Harris to make it even more relevant in the 21st century.”

Coun Peter Rankin, leader of Preston Council, said: “This is an important moment for the Harris, an important moment for Preston and for Lancashire too. Peoples’ views are crucial in helping to shape the future that we all want for the Harris.”

County Coun Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, added: “The Harris is a cultural icon for the whole of Lancashire. The Harris is also a beacon of arts and learning with over 500,000 visitors a year. It is a wonderful legacy for Preston and we have a duty to ensure the Harris legacy lives on for many, many generations to come.”

Visit www.preston.gov.uk/harrisvision.