2024 Festival Dates: 6 & 7 July

Festival of Making Community Interest Company joins Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation

4th November 2022

The National Festival of Making is delighted to announce that on Friday 4th November we received news that, through a rigorous application process, we have been selected by Arts Council England as a new National Portfolio Organisation 2023-2026.


Festival of Making CIC was formed in 2016 with an ambition to be a nationally relevant cultural festival in Blackburn while celebrating the unique heritage and contemporary characteristics of this town and region more widely. Through bold commissioning, including the residency programme, Art in Manufacturing, creative projects and artistic programming the CIC aims to present outstanding outcomes and experiences as part of both the festival weekend and a longer-term cultural programme for local and regional communities and national visitors alike – supporting economic development and creating a distinctive sense of place.

Since inception the Festival and its work has been critically important to the expansion of Blackburn’s local, cultural ecology. It has delivered in excess of 30 artist residencies and commissions, engaged national and international partners and sponsors, worked with 1000’s of children and young people through the act of making and co-created year round cultural and creative opportunities for all to enjoy – all supported by a creative team, diverse partners and stakeholders and committed volunteers. 

The work of the CIC intimately chimes with Art’s Council’s Let’s Create Strategy and we are looking forward to the next stage of our organisational journey and to further embedding the investment principles into the work we collaboratively deliver with people and communities.

Of the announcement, Chair of the Board of Directors, Jamie Holman said

This decision is testament to the collective ambition and hard work of the team, Directors and Board at the National Festival of Making and evidence of the commitment from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and other strategic partners who have been visionary in supporting this process both in the planning and with financial contribution. We have collectively witnessed the enormous growth of Blackburn’s local cultural ecology in recent years, and that is now even further enhanced with strategic and significant Arts Council National Portfolio Investment. As Chair of the Board of Directors I am beyond excited to see how our ambitions can now be realised over the next three years.

We are both humbled and beyond proud in becoming one of the 990 successful applicants in this significantly competitive funding round. This strategic fund now means we can develop plans far beyond those that previous funding allowed. It also means that we are able to build more capacity within our fantastic team to deliver and reach more people through the work we co-create. Our initial focus will be to galvanise all that we have learnt and developed both pre, during and post pandemic with an emphasis on providing opportunities for more young people, emerging artists and creative practitioners while continuing to bring national and international artists to our region.

This announcement means that we can now also confirm that the festival will go ahead in summer 2023. Working with makers, artists, manufacturers and festival communities we’re building a participatory festival programme that will encompass making of all scales – bookable and drop-in making workshops; art and industry commissions; artisan craft and local food producer marketplaces; community embedded projects; and celebratory music and performance, bringing us together through shared experiences. 

Cllr Phil Riley Leader of Blackburn Council said 

This is brilliant and much-deserved news for the National Festival of Making team and Blackburn with Darwen. We are the proud home and strategic partner of this fantastic festival and since its inception in 2016 have seen significant impact on our towns cultural offering and creative diversity. The distinctive programme delivered by the festival and partners engages with residents and national visitors alike, platforming the unique making heritage of our borough, creating a distinctive sense of place and encouraging economic development within our town centre. We welcome the next three years of the National Festival of Making and will continue to support the organisation as part of our ambitious and creative growth vision for Blackburn with Darwen. A massive congratulations to the entire team and all those involved with the Festival throughout the year – we are truly excited by the future we’re making.

Co-founded and directed by both Lauren Zawadzki and Elena Jackson, The National Festival of Making continues to develop its organisational impact and scale to strategically support a stronger, more diverse and sustainable cultural sector in Blackburn and Lancashire. With funding from organisations such as Arts Council England, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, the CIC presents outstanding outcomes and experiences as part of both the festival weekend and a longer-term cultural programme – supporting economic development and creating a distinctive sense of place.

Alex O’Toole, Chair of Arts Lancashire, said

We are absolutely delighted that Festival of Making CIC is joining the ACE National Portfolio for 2023 – 2026. This is a new and very welcome investment and will serve to strengthen Lancashire’s wider cultural sector. It demonstrates the value they provide to Blackburn and the surrounding area through their wide-ranging programme of making for people of all ages and circumstances, particularly, their work with manufacturing communities and their Art in Manufacturing commissioning programme. We offer our most sincere congratulations to Lauren and Elena, the delivery team and the board of trustees at Festival of Making CIC and look forward to supporting their organisational development, their work to provide opportunities for Lancashire artists and to develop local talent, and their journey to net zero.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our Team, our Board, Arts Council England, and of course, all of the stakeholders, partners, freelance practitioners, artists, participants and audiences we have worked with over the last few years that have made this all possible.

Our congratulations go to all successful applicants within the district and the wider region. 



2019 Trusts & Foundations

The National Festival Of Making Delivery Team

National Festival of Making is supported by the Arts Council England, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Brian Mercer Trust and Foundations and Partners. This project is part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

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