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Ikon awarded six-figure funding for Black Country tour

  • Date: 30 January 2014
  • Area: Midlands
Ikon's Slow Boat

Ikon's Slow Boat. Credit: Jas Sansi

Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery has been awarded more than £200,000 to take great art into the heart of the Black Country.

The funding has been awarded as part of our £45 million Strategic touring programme, which supports arts venues to tour their work so more people can experience and enjoy it.

Using the £210,000, Ikon will lead a three year programme entitled Black Country Voyages. This will see their iconic Slow Boat - a converted canal boat measuring 72 feet in length - travel the Black Country’s industrial canal routes from Smethwick to Stourbridge, Sedgley to West Bromwich and Birchills to Aldridge.

Ikon Youth Programme - a group of 15-19 years olds with an interest in visual arts - will be particularly involved in the project, assisting in crewing the boat and leading activities. Ikon will also work with local arts organisations, authors, photographers, artists, schools and libraries.

The tour will feature artist-led workshops, on-board performances, writing workshops and book design, amongst other activities. People who encounter Slow Boat on its journey will also have the chance to be involved in influencing the development of the programme, contributing their thoughts and ideas.

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “This is great news for Ikon and the Black Country. Ikon’s Slow Boat takes great art right in to the heart of local communities in a non-traditional way. But what will be really exciting about Black Country Voyages is the connections Ikon will be able to make with existing arts groups and local people, giving them the opportunity to shape the future of the tour.”

Jonathan Watkins, Director, Ikon, said: 'Black Country Voyages will be a wonderful adventure for the young people taking part in Ikon's Youth Programme, participating artists and audiences alike. The canals in this region are under-appreciated, but for Ikon they are an extraordinary network joining the dots of local communities that will be new audiences for the very best contemporary art.’