New short film by Caroline Smith creatively explores St Helens high street and its future

A film, Running On Fumes, by Caroline Smith in collaboration with ten young people and set in St Helens, is released today – one of a series of ten new Future of the High Street films created by contemporary filmmakers in collaboration with young creatives, which will feature on Historic England’s website and YouTube channel.

Each film explores what the future of the high street could be, posing hopeful provocations at a time when these communal spaces have been hit hardest. Storytellers explore what local high streets could and should offer as places for the communities in which they serve.

Future of the High Street is part of a £7.4million Cultural Programme led by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

This programme of cultural activities is part of the £95 million High Streets Heritage Action Zone scheme, which is currently working to breathe new life into more than 60 English high streets.

The Cultural Programme features new digital and physical artworks inspired by our nation’s high streets. It aims to make our high streets more attractive and vibrant places for people to spend time, work and live.

Running On Fumes has been created by Caroline Smith in collaboration with ten young people in St Helens, supported by staff at University Centre St Helens and St Helens Archive Service.

Through conversations, the group reflected upon photographs and materials from the St Helens Archive Service and together developed a piece of creative-writing exploring what these ten young people feel St Helens High Street has to offer them, the impact of Covid 19, the needs of their community, and their hopes for the future.

Patrick Fox, Director, Heart of Glass, said: “Heart of Glass believes in the power of arts and culture to open up conversations, share perspectives and create change. We support artists and communities to make work that reflects their experience of the world. The opportunity to work with Historic England and support a group of young people from St Helens to make a film about the place they call home was a welcome and important one this past year. In this film the young people highlight their experience of the high street and hopes for the future. Through this beautifully creative collaboration with filmmaker Caroline Smith, and with honesty, creativity and obvious passion for the place they call home, they’ve made a film that we can learn and grow from as a community.”

Ellen Harrison, Head of Creative Programmes and Campaigns, Historic England, said: “Historic England is taking a unique approach in combining cultural programming, community engagement and physical regeneration to transform high streets across England. The Cultural Programme’s aim is for artists to work with local people to help them rediscover and express the pride they have in the places they’re from.