Upfront Arts Charity, near Penrith, have been awarded a grant of £5,000 to help towards the cost of the venue's first puppet festival.

The charity received the funding from The Victoria Wood Foundation, a charity set up to help support the art industry in North England and in London.

John Parkinson and his wife Elaine are the founders behind the theatre and arts venue and are thrilled to have received the funding.

"It's great to get the funding but it's extra nice to get the funding from the memory of Victoria Wood. I met her once and remember a very warm personality and very witty lady. She had several links with and a great love of Cumbria."

"She would have found the comedy that puppets are capable of, right up her street," John said.

The venue, which is one of only four dedicated puppet theatres in England, will look to put on the festival later this year turning the whole site into a festival zone offering both an indoor and outdoor music and puppet spectacle.

The momentum for Upfront doesn't stop here however, the venue is set to be the focus of an episode of a new Channel 4 documentary airing in March.

News and Star: John Parkinson filming with Channel 4John Parkinson filming with Channel 4

The show will feature the venue's summertime Jack and Beanstalk performance, a puppet auction and will share some of John's thoughts about the value of puppets when it comes to education and creative thinking.

John and Elaine first opened the doors to the multi-arts venue in 1997, starting the puppet charity in 2002 which is now home to almost 2,000 puppets, including the famous Stan Parker puppet collection - which was accrued through the National Heritage Lottery Fund.

News and Star: Theatres in showcaseTheatres in showcase

The couple are excited to open their doors of their long-awaited puppet museum later this year, which will allow for the visitors to gaze upon the vast culturally renowned puppet collection accrued over several years.

"We are very excited about what we are planning for this year and have tried to create a plan for working as safely as we can within the restrictions that Covid brings.

“We are planning ahead because the show must go on and we have to find ways of moving forwards into the future. We are sure that Victoria Wood would have agreed with this philosophy," he said.