Renowned fund supporting arts and education set to be distributed to East Lancs community groups

A prestigious fund set up more than a century ago to support the arts and education in Burnley is set to benefit a range of East Lancs community groups. 

The Edward Stocks Massey Bequest was established in 1910 under the Will of local philanthropist Edward Stocks Massey. The Brierfield-born businessman bequeathed a significant sum of money to the inhabitants of the Borough of Burnley after making a fortune with his brother, Charles, in Massey’s Brewery.

The Bequest continues to award annual grants to promote science, learning, music and theatre in Burnley, along with up to three educational bursaries for students entering tertiary education.

At the next Lancashire County Council Cabinet meeting on July 11, and subject to approval, grants will be awarded from the fund, with 14 awards totalling £36,000 due to be distributed.

Beneficiaries include a number of voluntary and professional organisations including light opera, a film makers’ club, a local orchestra and singers, as well as a number of projects proposed by the county council library service, Burnley Borough Council and the Mechanics Institute. 

Among the recipients put forward by Lancashire County Council are the Burnley Music Centre which requested £6,978.90 to expand musical services from its base in Padiham to run sessions in Burnley Central Library and the Lancashire County Council Library service in the Burnley District, which put forward projects for the sum of £4,721.10.

Burnley Borough Council proposed the Burnley Words Festival 2025 for an award of £ 5,000 and Towneley Hall Art Gallery & Museum requested £6,700 for the Reimagined project.  Burnley Mechanics requested a sum of £3,600 for the Pride of Place Project.

Meanwhile, individual and voluntary organisations have requested a share of grants totalling £9,000, including Burnley Film Makers, who asked for £500, the Burnley Light Opera Society, which requested £2,000 and Burnley Orchestra, which asked for £1,200.  Mid Pennine Arts and Burnley Civic Trust requested £1,900 and £600 respectively.

Also on the list of individuals and voluntary organisations are Burnley Municipal Choir, St Peter’s Saturday Morning Concerts, the St Peter’s Young Singers and Burnley Youth Theatre.

Helen Robertson, of Burnley Music Centre, said:

"We are delighted with this funding and we would like to thank the Edward Stocks Massey Bequest Fund and its Trustees for their generous allocation.

"It is a very welcome contribution to our funding at the Lancashire Music Service, as it  will provide vital support to enable us to continue and to enrich the musical and cultural life for the young people of Burnley"

County Councillor Peter Buckley, cabinet member for Community and Cultural Services, said:

“Edward Stocks Massey was an inspired and visionary philanthropist who left a prescient legacy of vital support that went far beyond his time. In the here and now, this foresight has continued the promotion and has supported the cultural, educational and scientific endeavours within the Borough of Burnley for decades. 

“These awards are a wonderful example of the fantastic contribution small and medium-sized community groups make within our community.  The Trustees have watched over the investment of the original bequest, meaning that the Borough of Burnley can continue to benefit from the generosity of the Stocks Massey fund.

“The Edward Stocks Massey Bequest Fund really is an outstanding example of how much groups can do with a relatively modest amount of funding. Whether from an orchestra, choir, museum or theatre group, we all benefit enormously from the volunteers' commitment and dedication.”

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