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Award-winning arts organisations

  • Date: 9 November 2009
  • Area: South East
Tango Fire event, Brighton, 2009

Tango Fire event, Brighton, 2009. Credit: Photo: Hugh Fox

This autumn, Arts Council England regularly funded organisations and Grants for the arts recipients have been bringing home multiple awards in theatre, tourism, visual arts and digital technology.

Theatres are accustomed to putting the spotlight on their stage productions, but at the Theatrical Management Association (TMA) Theatre Awards in November, Watermill Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre and Glyndebourne were celebrated as being amongst the best of Britain's theatre, opera and dance in regional venues.

Watermill Theatre, a 220-seat theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire, won Best Musical (Spend, Spend, Spend), Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical (for Kirsty Hoiles performance as Young Viv in Spend, Spend, Spend), and Best Set Design (for Michael Pavelka for Propellor's The Merchant of Venice on tour). Chichester Festival Theatre, Headlong and Royal Court Theatre's joint production of Lucy Prebble's tale of greed and loss in the financial sector Enron won Best New Play. Glyndebourne's 75th Anniversary season won the Achievement in Opera award.

Of their three wins, Hedda Beeby, The Watermill's Artistic Director, said, 'We are delighted that the TMA has recognised the quality of the work that this unique theatre produces and the talent of those who create it. Our awards belong to the whole Watermill team, every single one of whom brings something to the success of each production we create.'

Brighton Dome and Festival's three awards for its role in local tourism exemplify how arts can be a major contributor to a city's economy, as well as being a tourist attraction in its own right. In October, Brighton Festival 2009 was named the 'Tourism Event of the Year' (Tourism South East'sTourism ExSEllence Awards) and 'Best Place to Visit' (Brighton and Hove Business Awards 2009). They also won the Creative Industries Award for promoting the city's creative economy.

The 2009 Festival, which had internationally renowned sculptor Anish Kapoor as its first guest artistic director, was recognised for delivering 165 events in three weeks in May, including 26 premieres and commissions and 11 free outdoor performances. 

'We had an incredible Festival this year with exceptional performances and rave reviews, and it was terrific to see the whole city showing itself off at Festival time,' said Andrew Comben, Brighton Dome and Festival's Chief Executive on winning 'Tourism Event of the Year'. 'It is fantastic to win this award and gain industry recognition after such a successful year.'

Brighton Festival will go on to represent the city at the national Enjoy England for Excellence Awards on 23 April 2010.

In visual arts, 41 Places, a city-wide art installation that was part of Brighton Festival 2007, won the ISTD International Typographic Awards this month. The “site-specific publishing” project installed 41 true stories in the places where they actually happened around Brighton.

Breaking new ground in the digital art sector in October, interactive media art group Blast Theory won Brighton and Hove Business Awards' 'The Most Awesome Use of Digital Media' and was nominated for an IndieCade award.

Online art resource Culture 24 was nominated for the Good Web Guide's website of the year.  In 2007, a Grants for the arts award contributed to their website overhaul. Culture 24 (formerly 24 Hour Museum) was one of 25 organisations to beat over a thousand nominees for this award, which is aimed at small businesses and non-profit organisations.  'It's great to see that all the recent improvements we've made are having an impact,' said Jane Finnis, Culture24 Director.

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