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Our investment in arts and culture in the North East

  • Date: 16 April 2014
  • Area: North
One of the containers for the Great North Passion

One of the containers for the Great North Passion. Credit: BBC

The Arts Council has made significant investment in arts and cultural projects and organisations across the North East in recent months from our strategic funding programmes.

Jane Tarr, Director North, Arts Council England commented, 'There's a lot of discussion and ideas around  in the North East at the moment about making great art and culture and making sure it's for everyone. Arts Council has been able to help make some of them happen and the projects below give an idea of the way artists are providing opportunities for people living and visiting the North East, or watching across the country, to make, see and take part in some exceptional events."

The Journal Culture Awards, which began as an annual event in 2006 to celebrate artistic and cultural activity in the North East, will take place on Wednesday 16 April. The winners of the 13 categories will be chosen from the finalists and announced at a ceremony at The Sage which will be live from 7.30pm via the Journal's website.  A selection of images from the nominees can be seen here. The event will be hosted by Pitmen Painters actor and presenter, Chris Connel, alongside performances from Kathryn Williams, The Lake Poets, Frankie and the Heartstrings, The Mighty Doonans and Kate Fox. We have supported this initiative with a grant of £20,000. 

The BBC's flagship Easter broadcast, the Great North Passion is part of the Cultural Spring - the Creative People and Places project in Sunderland and South Tyneside, supported by £2,000,000 of Arts Council funding. We have also awarded £100,000 to the BBC from our Exceptional Award scheme that enables us to help arts organisations in realising a one-off opportunities to create an ambitious project that is outside of its normal programming. Over the last six weeks a major participatory arts project, The Great North Passion, has taken place across the North East, from Northumberland to Teeside. Twelve shipping containers have been hosted in different locations, forming the focus for artists and communities working together to create new works of arts inspired by the universal themes of the Passion story. The BBC will broadcast live on Good Friday from the region to re-tell the story of the Passion, illustrated by the artworks.

This September, the Great North Run will be the first event of its kind in the world to have its one millionth finisher cross the line. This landmark moment will be celebrated by an ambitious programme of events and exhibitions exploring and celebrating the North East's sporting and industrial heritage with an Opening Ceremony on Thursday 4 September. In 2013, 544,000 visitors attended the festival which included 21 events over 70 days; 20% of visitors were from elsewhere in the UK and 11% were international visitors.

The Arts Council's Strategic touring programme aims to give more people across the country better access to quality work across a range of venues. ARC Stockton Arts Centre recently received £862,430 through this programme and will work with Leeds-based Dep Arts to bring 150 performances to nine venues across the North East, enabling audiences to experience great work on their doorstep, strengthening the touring infrastructure thereby benefiting audiences in the longer term.

Another project to receive Strategic touring funding will tour to 14 east coast venues from Scotland to the South coast from May this year. South Tyneside based Customs House received £218,832 towards Follow the Herring, a collaborative, challenging theatre and visual arts project. Based on the heritage of fishing communities, local audiences will be engaged through singing, performing and knitting. The work will be a catalyst to developing a future sustainable touring network across these mid scale venues.

Renaissance Strategic support funding of £124,000 was recently awarded to the Hadrian's Wall Trust for Wall Face, a partnership of the 11 museums and heritage sites across the Hadrian's Wall site. Working together with the National Portrait Gallery and managed by the Trust, it will deliver a three month dispersed exhibition across the Wall sites.

We have also made two recent awards through our National Lottery funded Grants for the arts programme. Darlington's highly successful Festival of Thrift in 2013 at Lingfield Point was a world first and the Marchday Group has been awarded £80,000 to run the second festival from 27-28 September. Placing creativity at the heart of a shared sustainable future, the festival positioned artists as inspirers to action and change through a programme of workshops, demonstrations, exhibitions and performances. The second festival will embed this thinking into wider year round engagement and will involve the Darlington and Tees Valley community.

A 12 month project to produce a sequence of experimental disability writings exploring the impact culture - its history and its landscape - has on identity, and how often the destruction of one culture is involved in the creation of another has been awarded £34,875. Alison Carr's Matryoska will include spoken word, digital performance, music and devised theatre and performed at Bishop Auckland Town Hall Theatre and at the ARC in Stockton. She will also receive professional development and management support focusing on career progression, editing, project management, archiving and performance.