In the midst of urban development, and the heart of Leicester City Centre, sits a grade 1 listed medieval church which is soon to become a hive of cultural activity. Thanks to a new partnership between Leicester based contemporary arts development agency, ArtReach, and the Churches Conservation Trust, All Saints Church, which is located on Highcross Street, just behind Highcross shopping centre, is now to become centre stage for a wealth of arts projects and activities.

Simon Brown ArtReach Managing Director explained, “In 2018 we were able to use this fantastic building to launch the 6th edition of the annual Journeys Festival International. Which, delivered by ArtReach, explores refugee experiences through great art. We were honoured to hold last year’s Festival launch in the historical setting of All Saints. We hosted an exhibition of visual arts by refugees living in the Calais Camps, an art installation piece from a local refugee artist and had some marvellous live Launch music from local singer, Lydia Unsudimi. We then had the idea that this, often overlooked, historical jewel in the city centre could become a new hub for cultural activity in Leicester.”

Big plans are afoot for the building which has stood in the centre of old Leicester since the 12th century. Maddie Smart, Executive Producer for ArtReach explained the current plans. “Working in collaboration with the Y-Theatre, and thanks to Heritage Lottery funding, the first project in the church, Sanctuaries, will work with a group of young people to explore local historical sites of sanctuary. Then, with professional artists, we will develop their findings into performances, installations and exhibitions all led and created by the young participants. We also have Heritage Lottery funding to further explore the history of the church and to create a sound installation reflecting that history as part of Journeys Festival International this August. Subsequently, plans include a community play as part of a new Night of Festivals event in Leicester in March 2020”.

ArtReach Founding Director and Chair, David Hill, added
“It’s amazing to see the Churches Conservation Trust giving the opportunity for ArtReach and our Festivals to deliver a wide array of cultural heritage and performance projects in a building that’s stood here for around 700 years. It’s so exciting to have the ability to bring this glorious building back into the heart of Leicester’s vibrant arts scene.”
The Sanctuaries project will work with participants that are involved in the Y Theatre and their creations will be shared through public performances and exhibitions later in the year. With a hive of future plans for arts projects and community engagement, it seems that this little known wonder of Leicester’s cultural heritage is, once again, about to feature at the heart of the city’s cultural activity.

Judith Patrick Head of Region – North for The Churches Conservation Trust said “We are delighted that All Saints’, Leicester will host a number of amazing projects by ArtReach which will connect the local community with local history with various forms of modern art.”