High Street Cultural Programme


Plymouth Culture is leading on a project to help reimagine the city centre and celebrate our heritage through community-led cultural activities.

Plymouth Culture, was awarded more than £100,000 by Historic England as part of their Plymouth High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) Cultural Programme, to be used from 2021 until March 2024.


The cultural programme in Plymouth has three strands activation, vacancy spaces and public art.

The programme launched with collective Still/Moving leading workshops with the local community that resulted in  light installations later displayed in empty shops’ windows in the city centre.

And so far has delivered activities such as:

The Desire Paths – A chalk map of Plymouth was drawn on Piazza floor of the city centre and the public were invited to name the city’s streets after a hope or dream the have for the future. The performance was held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (1 July until 3 July) lead by theatre company Third Angel with the contribution of three local artists selected specially for this opportunity. 

PRIMEdesign – brings art and creativity together to a group of young local skaters, celebrating Plymouth’s skating heritage with projects such as a mural at the Civic Centre and a map of skating spots in Plymouth, as a result of an artistic residency led by artist Chris Alton.  Take A Part and KARST are leading on the delivery of this project.

You can download the skaters map here:

Three stores located in the conservation area have tested the use of vacant spaces for cultural activities as part of our wider Meanwhile Use programme.

PRIMEskaters had a workshop space at 2 Royal Parade, Collective Sprite Arts hosted exhibitions, workshops, etc. at 15-19 Old Town Street, and Climate Hub offered a welcoming space for varied activities and organisations for six months at 67 New George St. 

Meet me at the Sundial – Plymouth worked with Barbican Theatre to deliver a seven-month project that put Plymouthian’s words and relationship with the city centre in the limelight.

Six commissioned practitioners completed a residency on some of the major city bus routes and in high street cafes – listening, conversing and responding to people going about their day travelling into the city centre. These conversations inspired a night-time immersive event that began on a bus and finished at the city centre’s Sundial in March 2023. Watch our video of the event below.

Two Sides of the Same Coin – An interactive ‘pub-like’ art installation packed with stories of Plymouth will travel the city. The Queer District Collective has been capturing the “very essence of being a Plymothian” by collecting and celebrating the stories of the LGBTQIA+ community for the art project. Two Sides of the Same Coin shares personal stories and experiences to foster a deeper understanding of Plymouth’s diverse heritage – and spark conversations about the city’s past and present as a united community. 

The stories have been transformed into a travelling art installation that’s inspired by a pub environment – a neutral and inclusive space.  Watch our video below.

Public Art – is critical in shaping and manifesting the cultural identity of place. This includes ‘traditional’ public art such as sculpture but also temporary installations, design aesthetics and street furniture.

A public art steering group for the city has been established in partnership with The Box, which will take ownership of the Public Art Plan. This focuses on engaging experts and communities in the decision-making process and ensuring the city’s public art is valued and celebrated. A new public artwork will be commissioned as part of HAZ.


Funding – The four-year-long High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme is led by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Cultural Programme aims to make our high streets more attractive, engaging and vibrant places for people to live, work and spend time.

Hannah Harris, CEO of Plymouth Culture, said: “While we understand the need for immediate action to support the revival of the high street, our programme focuses on linking short-term activity to long-term ambition.

“This means that we are working hard to align a number of high-street programmes and partners to make sure that we genuinely reimagine the high street with a focus on creative and cultural activity driving transformation.

“This is an opportunity to make a real difference and influence what our high street will look like in the future.”


This is an opportunity to make a real difference and influence what our high street will look like in the future

Hannah Harris

CEO Plymouth Culture

The funding builds on the success of a series of pilot cultural projects that have run since across 43 High Street Heritage Action Zones. They have not only helped high streets offer cultural activity during lockdown, but also discovered what local people would like to see happening on their high streets.

Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage MP said:
“High streets are often the heart of our communities and should be places we all want to engage with and enjoy. These grants will help transform high streets into thriving cultural hubs, encouraging us to embrace all the joys our town centres have to offer.”

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, adds: “The High Streets Cultural Programme is an essential part of the way we are contributing to bringing high streets back from the brink.

As we start to see these important historic spaces become regenerated through conservation and building work, the community-led cultural activity programme will bring people back to enjoy their high street again and have a say in its future.”



HSHAZ funding: £101,290
In-kind support from partners: £35,750
Cash contributions from partners: £5,500
Total project value: £142,540

How funding will be spent