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Arts Council England announces investment plans for 2015-18 in the Midlands

  • Date: 1 July 2014
  • Area: Midlands
Derby Theatre

Derby Theatre.

The plans in the Midlands include 87 arts organisations and four Major Partner Museums. Four arts organisations join the portfolio, seven leave and two museums are introduced.

  • The investment in arts organisations for 2015/16 will be £58million, compared to £57.1million in 2014/15. 
  • The Major Partner Museums (MPM) budget has increased to £3.5million in 2015/16 from £2.4million; an increase of £1.1million.

The majority of organisations in the new portfolio have received standstill funding. Uplifts have been given to eight organisations that made an exceptional case for increased funding.

The four organisations in the Midlands that will be joining the National Portfolio are:

  • Baby People – An arts and music development organisation based in Derby with an excellent reputation for developing contemporary pop and urban music throughout the country. It works closely with the education sector to deliver a strong music programme for young people, particularly in the East Midlands. Our investment will support Baby People to build on its work to develop education and touring projects in areas of low engagement to reach people who are least likely to take part in arts activities.                                               
  • BE FESTIVAL - This biennial showcase of European arts brings high quality international theatre and a range of other art to audiences in the West Midlands. It brings together European companies (including UK companies) whose work crosses linguistic and disciplinary borders in a celebration of cultural diversity. Alongside 10 days of great theatre, our investment will support BE FESTIVAL to increase its work supporting artists and young people as part of an ambitious programme of year-round activity.                             
  • Derby Theatre – This mid-scale theatre produces and showcases high-quality productions alongside a wide variety of training and learning opportunities for audiences, artists, students and communities in Derby. The theatre’s unique partnership with the University of Derby enables it to put learning at the heart of every aspect of its programme. Our investment will support the theatre to put on new productions; work with emerging artists; and pursue ambitious plans to increase the quality and range of learning opportunities people can take part in.                                                                                               
  • SO Festival – This annual festival brings great art and culture to people in the coastal district of East Lindsey in Lincolnshire, including the holiday town of Skegness. Since 2009 the festival has seen audiences grow from 8,000 to 90,000 people and is a much anticipated event in the area’s cultural calendar, capturing the attention of local residents and holidaymakers alike. The festival has also become a platform for regional, national and international artists and arts organisations to tour and showcase work for new audiences. Our investment will support the production of the annual ten-day event and increase opportunities for artists, local communities, children and young people as part of a new programme of year round activity.

 The two organisations in the Midlands that will become Major Partner Museums joining Ironbridge and Birmingham Museums Trust are:

  • Black Country Living Museum –The museum’s collection preserves and retells the history of the world’s first industrial landscape in interesting and innovative ways. Our investment will support the museum to form new partnerships with other museums across the West Midlands to develop creative ideas and share best practice in ‘living interpretation’. It will also support the museum to engage new audiences; increase touring opportunities for artefacts from national museums; and provide leadership development, traineeship and mentoring opportunities for staff and the wider museum sector.                                                
  • Derby and Nottingham Museums (DNMC) – Derby and Nottingham Museums is a new partnership between the two museum services which attract more than 500,000 visitors each year. Derby Museums is home to The Joseph Wright of Derby Collection, a designated collection of regional and national importance. Our funding will support the two museum services to expand their cultural offer and become more innovative and resilient.

Eight organisations will be offered a higher level of funding to achieve specific aims:

  •  2 Faced Dance Company
  • Birmingham Royal Ballet
  • DanceXchange
  • Darbar Arts, Culture and Heritage
  • East Midlands Caribbean Carnival Arts Network
  • ExCathedra
  • Motionhouse
  • Sonia Sabri

Levels of funding for the other National Portfolio Organisations, based in the Midlands, will be maintained at existing levels to build on their excellent work and deliver high quality programmes for audiences across the Midlands and further afield to enjoy.

Overall the proposed NPOs and MPM budget is now reduced by 3.8% a year, despite a reduction of 36% in grant in aid from government since 2010.  This has been achieved by using lottery money to fund an additional number of organisations. Sustaining the National portfolio in this way means that there will be a significant reduction to the Arts Council’s Strategic funds. Our focus for Strategic funds will therefore be building capacity outside London.  For the next three years there will be very limited funds for capital investment and savings have been made across other schemes such as the large scale Catalyst programme which supports endowments for large organisations.

Peter Phillips, Chairman of the Midlands Area Council, said: “The Midlands has an ambitious and exciting cultural offer. It’s home to a great number of organisations and artists that produce world-class work for audiences to enjoy and we’re committed to maintaining this thriving cultural scene. Our Area Council is made up of leaders from arts, culture, and business and elected local councillors from across the Midlands. Because there were so many good applications we faced a difficult task of making the funding recommendations you are seeing today but we’re proud of the portfolio and hope it will help us achieve our goal of getting great art to everyone.

“The National Portfolio is just one of the ways the Arts Council invests in and supports the country’s cultural sector. Alongside this new portfolio we’ll continue to work with artists and arts organisations across the Midlands to offer investment through our Grants for the arts and Strategic funding programmes.”

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “We are investing in an exciting and varied portfolio of organisations and all of them help us to achieve our aim of great art and culture for everyone. The quality and range of these organisations reflects the wealth of creative talent we have here.

“At a time of significant economic challenge I’m pleased that we have been able to maintain existing levels of funding for many organisations to consolidate and build on their excellent work. We couldn’t fund everyone, but it is very positive that we have been able to introduce four new arts organisations and two new museums to our funded portfolio, all of which will bring something relevant, different and stimulating to the terrific arts and culture offer we enjoy across the Midlands.”

The full list of all the National Portfolio Organisations and Major Partner Museums in the Midlands and nationally can be found here.

Any existing National Portfolio Organisations who were unsuccessful in their applications have nine months of funding remaining to allow them to explore alternative sources of support or to adapt their current business plans.

The National Portfolio is just one way the Arts Council supports the country’s arts and cultural sector. Through the Capital funding programme the Arts Council invests in buildings and equipment arts organisations need to deliver great art and culture in their communities.

Five organisations throughout the Midlands have been awarded funding through the small scale capital scheme. These are:

  • Compton Verney - £123,412
  • Dance 4 Limited -£499,642
  • Leicester Print Workshop and Resource - £300,000
  • New Art Gallery Walsall - £487,500
  • New Vic (Stoke-On-Trent and North Staffordshire Theatre Trust Limited) -£495,000

Four organisations have been successful in the first stage of the process for large scale capital grants and have been invited to apply in the second stage. These are:

  •  The Drum
  •  Royal Shakespeare Company
  •  Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall Nottingham
  •  Warwick Arts Centre