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Private and public support brings Newcastle's Stephenson Quarter to life

  • Date: 22 March 2013
  • Area: North
Heather Phillipson, A-Is-to-D-What-E-Is-to-H, installation view, CIRCA Projects, 2012

Heather Phillipson, A-Is-to-D-What-E-Is-to-H, installation view. Credit: CIRCA Projects 2012

The Boiler Shop in Newcastle's Stephenson Quarter is one of the city's most significant buildings from the industrial revolution, and in recent years has played host to a new kind of revolution, becoming a destination for new arts and cultural events and festivals.

Managed by local developers Silverlink, the refurbished shed space lies in the heart of the Stephenson Quarter behind Newcastle Central Station. The newly named Boiler Shop has showcased performances, events and exhibitions, many of which have been supported by Arts Council investment.

Alison Clark-Jenkins, Regional Director, Arts Council England said: 'Silverlink have exciting plans for the future of the Boiler Shop and the Stephenson Quarter development, and it's great to see that arts and culture is playing a big part of this. The support they have already given to projects with Arts Council investment is a perfect example of the success that can come from fresh thinking and an open mind. I look forward to seeing what comes next.'

Michelle Percy, Director, Silverlink Holdings, said: 'The Boiler Shop itself is a grade 2* listed building - it is a unique space that we aim to maintain and develop as a dynamic venue to complement the surrounding buildings and the Crowne Plaza Hotel.  It is so refreshing to work with the Arts Council - their approach to our plans and invaluable support has enabled us to press on with an ambitious programme of events and activities over the coming months.'

The Boiler Shop is also home to CIRCA Projects, a curatorial non-profit organisation which produces and exhibits artist commissions, performances and other projects.

Sam Watson, Programme Director, CIRCA Projects said: 'As a small organisation, the support of Silverlink has been essential in both delivering our public programme and developing our organisation. Their provision of space, hosting four major exhibitions to date, has greatly reduced our overheads. With this support, we can direct the needed funds towards our activities. Their support in partnership with CIRCA Projects continues to be instrumental in the growth and quality of the projects we are able to work towards.'

Examples of recent projects and exhibitions which have been hosted in the Boiler Shop are:

  • Alice in Bed - sell out theatre performances, February 2013. This raucous and immersive play written by Susan Sontag, was produced specifically for the Boiler Shop space by Tender Buttons, a cross-disciplinary theatre and performance company, with investment from the Arts Council's open-access Grants for the arts scheme.
  • NE-Generation - showcase event, September 2012. NE-Generation was the North East's programme of cultural events and activities made by and for young people as part of the Cultural Olympiad, celebrating the London 2012 Games. Last September the Boiler Shop hosted a weekend showcasing the work and creativity of thousands of local young people, as the culmination of the programme - featuring a turntable orchestra, projections, live performances and more.
  • CIRCA Projects - Space Release, October 2012 - December 2013. CIRCA Projects have presented a number of exhibitions and new works in the Boiler Shop, including Benedict Drew as part of AV Festival 12. Since October, the Boiler Shop has played host to CIRCA Projects' 15 month programme of exhibitions and events titled 'Space Release'. The next instalment in the programme is the largest exhibition in the UK of Spanish, Berlin based artist Rubén Grilo. The exhibition The Need for Speed opens on Friday 22 March 2013, 6-9pm, and runs until 18 May 2013, when the show will close as part of The Late Shows.

For more information about Silverlink and the Boiler Shop, click here.

To find out about our open-access funding programme Grants for the arts, click here.