Apprentice's idea secures £38,000 grant for new project celebrating Burnley's history of campaigning for gay rights

A Burnley based arts charity has received a cash windfall of £38,500 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a new youth led project called Stand Out which will celebrate the town’s LGBT+ history.

By Susan Plunkett
Monday, 21st February 2022, 3:45 pm

The initial idea for the project came from Burnley Library’s apprentice, Holly Emmett who wants to see the library providing a space for young LGBT+ people to meet, learn about their local heritage and celebrate diversity.

With input from other young people in the town, ‘Stand Out’ was developed. It is a project that will see young people finding out about the significant role that their town played in the creation of the modern UK LGBT+ rights movement whilst producing their own events, exhibition and activities for the local community.

The charity Blaze specialises in supporting young people to lead their own creative projects and in doing so, develop confidence and transferable skills. Professional artists, archivists and historians will support the project and provide the participants with specialist training and mentoring.

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2021 marked the 50th anniversary of the first meeting of The Campaign for Homosexual Equality which took place at Burnley Library in July, 1971. The anniversary was marked with the unveiling of a new rainbow plaque outside the building.

Many young people who have taken part in Blaze projects have gone on to further training, education or secured paid work as a result of the skills and experience they gained.

2021 marked the 50th anniversary of the first meeting of The Campaign for Homosexual Equality which took place at Burnley Library in July 1971. The anniversary was marked with the unveiling of a new rainbow plaque outside the building.

The new plaque has sparked conversations and ideas amongst Burnley’s young people who want to see more 'queer culture' being celebrated in their local town. The project participants will interview people who attended the milestone meeting in 1971 and record their stories. These oral histories will then be shared and stored in

Lancashire Archives.

The project will culminate in a celebration event in July and a new exhibition which will tour libraries in Pennine Lancashire.

Any people aged 13 to 25 who are interested in getting involved should contact Blaze via the website or social media channels.

The project will launch with a community celebration event at Burnley Library in March, where people of any age can find out more about the project and support it.

Blaze Director Helen Thackray said: ‘This project is about a new generation exploring their local history and having an active role in their community. We’re really excited to see what they produce over the coming months."

David Renwick, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “We are proud to award funding for Blaze Arts to support young people in exploring the lesser known but extremely important LGBTQ+ heritage of Burnley.

"Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this history will now be shared with the wider community and will highlight the local people who have paved the way for social change.”

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'Rainbow' plaque to be unveiled in Burnley to mark the struggle for gay rights