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Grants for the arts: investing in the arts in the East of England

  • Date: 17 September 2010
  • Area: National, South East
Atching tan

A recording session for the Atching Tan radio series. Credit: Alan Rowbottom

The flourishing arts sector in the East of England has been boosted with more than £875,000 in Grants for the arts awards made during the first quarter of this financial year.

This represents the highest amount awarded in any region outside London - the second highest being the South East region, where £758,654 was awarded.

The region also had the highest success rate in the UK, with 32.5% of applicants awarded a grant.

National Lottery funding through our open access scheme Grants for the arts is helping to inspire audiences, regenerate neighbourhoods, develop artists' careers and promote inclusion throughout the region.

Three recent stand-out Grants for the arts projects have been making a difference in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex this year:

Atching Tan

The Romany Theatre Company is in now the third year of a groundbreaking project, entitled Atching Tan, working with members of local traveller communities in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.

With a Grants for the arts award of £39,000, the Romany Theatre Company has worked with travellers to develop a unique radio drama looking at the relationship between three traveller families and the settled community in a rural village.

The first two series were broadcast on the BBC in 2008 and 2009, and the final 12 episodes will be broadcast between October and December 2010. Fourteen traveller writers and actors have been involved with the series and a number have gone on to work professionally for organisations including the BBC, Bristol Old Vic, Royal Court Theatre, Soho Theatre and Channel 4.

Founder and Director of the Romany Theatre Company Dan Allum said: 'This broadcast work is just one part of Atching Tan, which also includes arts training and education for people in the traveller community. It's been great to see some of our participants progressing through this project to gain professional writing opportunities themselves.'


Bringing creativity on tap to local residents and organisations, artist collective CoExist Arts has transformed a disused water pumping station in Southend-on-Sea into a vibrant hub for cultural activity.

Mentored by Metal, CoExist has converted the vacant building into the Temporary Arts Project (or TAP), which now features a gallery space, a 60-seat cinema, a dark room, a print room, eight artists' studios and office space.

The project, which began in September 2009, has been delivered thanks to Grants for the arts awards from Arts Council England, as well as investment from the East of England Development Agency, and a partnership with Essex and Suffolk Water.

Co-founder and director of CoExist Amy McKenny said: 'Bringing together different organisations and artists at TAP means that we can not only interact with each other, but we can also expand our audiences - it's a fantastic way for us all to grow and develop.'

digital making

In April 2010 Nicola Naismith became the first artist in residence at Hethel Engineering Centre in Norfolk, exploring some of the technologies used by contemporary engineers in a residency entitled digital making.

With a Grants for the arts award of £8,710, matched by funding from Norfolk County Council, Sir Phillip Reckitt Educational Trust and SCAN, Nicola learnt engineering skills and made a series of objects using advanced technology at Hethel.

Photographs and drawings she made during her residency of the building and the machinery will be displayed in an exhibition of her work entitled The Potential Object at Hethel until the 17 December and available to view by appointment.

Nicola said: 'This has been a great opportunity to learn new skills and discuss the approaches of artists and engineers, finding out where the similarities and differences are.' Nicola's residency blog is published online.