THE Great Escape, a venue where creativity inspires people to achieve their dreams, is planning to further its work on Grimsby docks’ historic Kasbah with the help of a heritage grant.
With its main base within the Conservation Area, the community interest company CREATivE stART is in the process of applying for funding to carry out essential external repair and renovation work on its rented premises – The Great Escape.
The PSiCA (Partnership Scheme in Conservation Areas) grant scheme is open to existing businesses and organisations on the Kasbah or those looking to develop in the area, which sits with Grimsby’s Heritage Action Zone, (HAZ).
This has provided a big boost to CREATivE stART director Sam Delaney, who is currently putting the final touches to his five-figure application. This will enable him to make the repairs needed, which will comply to heritage requirements – ensuring The Great Escape continues to show people what is possible, and how they can use art as a vehicle to achieve their ambitions.
Famed for its ‘Steve McQueen’ mural on the side wall, the Great Escape has been developed by Sam and his team as a community-driven project where people, from veterans to art students, creative professionals, and community volunteers, can go.
“We want as many people from the community to be inspired by the work we are doing, to come down here and look at how we can regenerate both ourselves as people, and in turn this area and the town. If we can do it anyone can,” said Sam.
Sam first launched CREATivE stART in Wigan more than a decade ago and brought the idea with him to Grimsby eight years ago after relocating to be with his partner. From that, the Great Escape was born, with a budget of just £5,000. It was a small sum of money but most certainly matched by an iron will to develop a base where people had a way in which they could use art to overcome barriers.
Kasbah owners Associated British Ports, (ABP), offered a peppercorn rent for the lease of the building, on Auckland Road and the project has never looked back. Further support has come from Orsted Grantscape, Havelok Rotary Club, the Co-op and North East Lincolnshire Council’s Crime Reduction Fund.
“Our Great Escape here is perfect, we are away from the hustle and bustle of the town, providing people with an escape,” explained Sam.
A former city broker, who travelled extensively in his past career, Sam has successfully overcome his own personal battle with alcohol. Now 15 years without a drink, he uses his experiences to support others.
“Art proved to be a powerful tool for me and what became clear to me was the need for people who face similar battles to share experiences without judgement, to build their self-esteem and improve their mental health,” explained Sam.
Hopeful of a successful grant award for the external works, Sam is also planning a remodel of Great Escape’s interior to provide creative workspaces for people as well as the main arts workshop space.
For those behind the PSiCA scheme and Grimsby’s current focus upon regeneration across other parts of the town, there is an understanding that whole communities must be embraced if the changes are to be successful in the long-term.
North East Lincolnshire Council Cabinet member for Tourism, Heritage and Culture, Cllr Callum Procter, said: “When we look at the work underway across the town, such as St James’ Square and Garth Lane, we have some incredibly exciting regeneration projects that will transform how these areas look. However, if we are to effect lasting change, we must also look at making these areas safe and welcoming.
“A large part of that change will come if we can find ways of working with people across our communities to improve wellbeing and life chances. The cultural work that is taking place will go towards achieving that, along with the support the work can give to local organisations,” he added.
The PSiCA grant scheme, with a total pot of £1m, is a joint project between Historic England and North East Lincolnshire Council, with support from ABP and the council’s regeneration partner ENGIE. It is open to businesses on the Kasbah or organisations that may be interested in moving to this conservation area. Anyone interested should contact Stella Jackson, Heritage Action Zone Project Manager, at HAZ@nelincs.gov.uk.