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Sanctuary hailed as huge success

Published on Thursday, 13th October 2022

Sanctuary structure alight

The Bedworth event has been hailed as a huge success following analysis of the benefits it brought to the Borough.

Produced in partnership with Artichoke, Imagineer, Warwickshire County Council and Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, Sanctuary saw a temporary memorial to the nation’s losses during Covid-19 built in Bedworth’s Miners’ Welfare Park.

Constructed by US artist David Best, and built by members of the local Warwickshire community in collaboration with David’s artist crew, the memorial was set alight in a symbolic act marking rebirth, recovery and regeneration.

The event brought communities together and united hundreds of local participants, including school children, who took part in the project through workshops, volunteering and learning opportunities.

As part of the Sanctuary build, Artichoke provided valuable training and employment opportunities, with some participants gaining a Construction Skills Certificate in the process.

“Over the last two weeks I have seen a massive change in the young men.

"They have developed vital skills that could increase their possibility of employment and increase the standards of lives of the group,” 

Said a Community Leader (Gasyard, Derry).

“It has given me new skills to put onto my CV, which are already beginning to come in handy,”

A build participant added.

Artichoke's aim was to be as inclusive as possible. Access tours to support deaf and disabled people were arranged, including Touch Tour, BSL (British Sign Language) Tour and relaxed session for neurodiverse audiences. 27 per cent of the Sanctuary audience were identified as having a disability or long-term health condition.

More than 16,700 people visited Sanctuary, leaving messages of both hope and mourning alongside tokens for lost loved ones.

On the night of the burn a total of 10,000 people attended to witness the 65-ft high wooden monument be set alight.

“It is part of Bedworth forever now, even though it's gone. It created a moment of solidarity that lives on in our collective memories,”

Said one audience member.

Publicity ran far and wide, gaining a total reach of a huge 7.5 billion. The event was covered by several national and international outlets, ranging from The Guardian and BBC News to Sky News and The New York Times, providing Nuneaton and Bedworth with a global stage.

In addition to uniting the community, providing training opportunities, publicity and bringing visitors to the Borough, Sanctuary also provided a huge boost to the local economy following the Covid-19 lockdowns. 70 per cent of the £650,000 budget was spent locally, reinvesting £455,000 directly into the community.

Leader of Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, Cllr Kris Wilson, said:

The Sanctuary Event was a fantastic success, and the people of Bedworth and beyond really enjoyed this one-off spectacular.

"We were able to showcase Bedworth on the world stage, boost the local economy and support businesses and jobs in the area.

"This cathartic experience really touched the hearts and minds of residents in our Borough and visitors.”