HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds are to be poured into organising a major commemorative event in Southampton.

Plans to mark the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower ship to America are underway with a total of £419,000 set to be spent on events.

The news comes as Southampton City Council will be leading the programme and investing £150,000 in it while an extra £269,000 will come from a National Lottery Project Grant from Arts Council England.

The programme of events is expected to reach audiences of 37,000, employ 92 people and involve almost 7,000 participants.

The major cash boost will be used to develop and deliver ten projects which include a new music commission at Turner Sims, a community arts programme led by Solent University’s Showcase Gallery and two large-scale community dance projects, one led by Art Asia as part of the Southampton Mela and one by ZoieLogic Dance Theatre.

A light-art project for Weston Shore and the city centre will also be delivered in partnership with Audacious and Light Up Poole while a new outdoor work by Requardt & Rosenberg, commissioned by Stomping Ground and produced by The Place and ‘A Mile in My Shoes’ delivered by The Empathy Museum are also among the planned events.

Cllr Satvir Kaur, cabinet member for homes and communities at the city council, said the project will push the city’s artistic aspirations and talents to new levels ahead of the City of Culture bid in 2021.

“Southampton has been at the forefront of many world-changing moments and we remain at the forefront of marine exploration and innovation. The Mayflower 400 commemorations in 2020 is the perfect time and place to showcase this, giving us the opportunity to share the incredible creativity of our cultural organisations and communities”, she added.

The council is also investing into a number of other heritage project this year, including four exhibitions at City Art Gallery, SeaCity Museum and Tudor House Museum and Gardens and a renovation of the Mayflower Monument.

Cllr Kaur said the authority is thrilled to be working with Arts Council England . Phil Gibby, south west area director for Arts Council England, said the funding will help bring communities together and allow more people to experience the benefits of cultural activity. Caterina Loriggio, Mayflower 400 Anniversary director, added: “We see the anniversary as an opportunity to work with communities to creatively explore self-identity, migration and transmigration, to celebrate the people of the world, such as the Mayflower passengers, who throughout history have come to, or through, Southampton in search of a new life, helping build our enviable reputation as Gateway to the World.”