New director for ambitious Barrow arts project

Barra Culture’s new director, Daniel Tyler-McTighe. Photo by Ben Gregory-Ring

Barrow’s ambitious arts programme – Barra Culture – has a new director at the helm.

At a time when the arts are facing their toughest challenge to date, Barra Culture offers a glimmer of hope thanks to £1.93 million of funding from the Arts Council’s Creative People and Places programme.

And steering the ship will be Daniel Tyler-McTighe.

“My work has always been community engaged and socially focussed,” said Daniel.

“Now is a really hard time for people in most sectors, not least in the arts and cultural world, so we are in a privileged position to have this creative opportunity in Barrow.”

Barra Culture will involve community-led grassroots activity, create new collaborations, deliver large scale commissions and residencies by local, national and international artists leading to exciting events across the town.

Although the programme will benefit everyone in Barrow, this once-in-a-generation opportunity will focus particularly on engaging creatively with communities in Barrow Island, Central, Hindpool, Ormsgill, Risedale and Walney North.

Growing up in a town similar to Barrow in many ways and with very few cultural events locally, Daniel’s own engagement with the arts was through his family, especially his Indian grandparents who were great storytellers and took him to the theatre.

He comes to Barrow after 10 years in Birmingham where his most recent work has been directing the Multilingual Performance Project for the University of Oxford; producing for Open Theatre, a company who work with people with learning disabilities; and finishing a series of short films in more than 50 languages about Britain’s most important Shakespeare collection at the Library of Birmingham.

Daniel also produced For/With/By: Festival of European Youth Theatre which had to be postponed owing to the pandemic but he hopes to enable young people from Barrow to participate in 2021.

Daniel sees his role at Barra Culture as being creative, responding to what the community are interested in, and making things happen.

He has been meeting as many people as COVID-19 restrictions allow and is about to recruit an advisory group involving a cross-section of local people to ensure a wide variety of groups get their voices heard.

Eventually, he will lead a team of five based at the Women’s Community Matters office in Abbey Road and also work with numerous artists, producers and project managers.

“COVID does present practical challenges and obstacles and Barra Culture is one of a few Creative People and Places project to launch under such circumstances but there are opportunities too,” said Daniel.

Hopefully, in February and March, consultation and cultural events will take place in the outdoor public spaces across Barrow with the aim of having the first artists in residence later in 2021.

Said Daniel: “We want to flood Barrow with artists as much as possible and we’re raring to go!”

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