With many of those involved in the arts currently struggling amid a loss of trade and a lack of Government support for a large chunk of the freelance community, the championing of creatives has never been more essential.

Ben Heslop has been instrumental in developing a burgeoning public art scene in Carlisle through his business Landmark Street Art, alongside his directing of the curation of public art in the city.

“The company works with international artists all over the world developing collections. Prior to Covid that took us all over the world. I was in a situation where my work saw me immersed in a rich cultural scene spread across the globe, but where I lived and worked there was nothing,” Ben explains.

“So once we had the time and the budget, we set about to changing that.

“Carlisle – while there is a lot of culture in it – was quite lacking in cultural experiences for the populace so we saw it as our mission to bring our element of that to the city.”

Carlisle’s Martin Evans and Phoebe Bell of Keswick are two examples of local artists whom Ben has directly championed.

“The local artists are there on merit. Having famous artists come to Cumbria is amazing but injecting local talent means that as we create a trail around the city, it all becomes one,” he states.

His street art mission has gone from strength to strength in the period since.

“We started with one piece of street art and people went crazy for it. On the whole we were bombarded by people saying how excited they were by it and how they wanted to see more of it.

“I’m lucky that Landmark is a an extension of my own passion and interests. So it was a case of finding people who were sympathetic to our cause and trying to engage with people on a local, national and international level to raise interest.”

Mr Heslop is now hoping that council leaders look to engage with artists as Carlisle’s high street looks to emerge from Covid-19.

“You don’t have to look far to see how much high streets have been decimated. I think councils and the public need to be looking at new ways of engaging with town centres. the positive effect of people engaging with art work is so well documented for regeneration, community engagement, social awareness. There are so many options.”

“I know not everyone will like all of it. We’re not naive in thinking we’re pleasing everyone but I think street art is a great tool for getting people to engage with art, to talk and discuss it.”