Celebrate Arts Council England, North East’s aim is to fund strong, effective organisations that will help excellent art to flourish and connect with more people in more places. In this issue we celebrate our portfolio of regularly funded organisations and the impact of Arts Council’s funding. Celebrating the arts in the North East It’s been a busy start to the year with our recent funding announcements, which have stimulated much debate on our decisions. We’re proud of the portfolio of regularly funded organisations we will support over the next three years and in this issue of news we’re profiling the excellent work we support in this region. If we did not, often reluctantly, stop funding some people, we would not be able to help exciting new and growing organisations. Obviously that means making tough choices - a tough but vital job if we’re not to simply distribute funds on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Arts Council staff are all passionate about great art and take this responsibility very seriously. Many are also practising artists – the North East office is home to writers, musicians and visual artists, as well as at least one former stilt walker. We don’t mind getting our hands dirty and taking flak – and if we wanted to be faceless bureaucrats we’d work elsewhere. Judgement is central to a new government report, Sir Brian McMasters’ ‘Supporting Excellence In The Arts’. This is a watershed in arts policy, putting the emphasis firmly on ‘excellence’. The meaning of that word is debatable, and it’s obviously one that has sometimes been used to reinforce a narrow elitism, a blinkered view of what art can do. Having spoken to Sir Brian, who is a member of our national governing body, I am confident this is not the way he sees it. His report, subtitled ‘From Measurement To Judgement’, challenges everyone who supports the arts to ensure we put excellence at the heart of our choices. When I look at many organisations we support in the North East I am excited about how they support people to create great work, and take it to as many people as they can. I welcome the idea that further review by fellow artists and promoters will help organisations get better, and help us work more effectively with them. For if there’s one thing I think is central to artistic excellence it’s an element of surprise. Think of the first time you heard a new kind of music. Jazz made no sense to me at first, for instance, it sounded like it had no form. But the best jazz taught me to understand it. And we’ve had that experience in the North East with a fantastic work of art that celebrates its 10th birthday this year, Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North. Remember the media storm around that? Think how many people hated it. There would be an equivalent controversy now if we suggested taking it away. That’s what great art can do: change our minds. This month I’ve started my own blog to share thoughts on arts policy, strategy and development, all comments are welcome so please log on and let me know what you think, www.artscounselling.blogspot.com Mark Robinson Executive Director Arts Council England, North East Investing in excellence Stockton on Tees born Alan Davey has been appointed Chief Executive of the Arts Council. He takes over the role from fellow North Easterner and former Head of Northern Arts Peter Hewitt, who left in January. Arts Council England has set out its Investment Strategy for the next three years, one that has at its heart excellence, ambition and judgement. It’s the most significant change to the Arts Council’s portfolio in the history of our organisation. Between April 2008 and March 2011, Arts Council England will invest £1.3 billion of income from government in arts organisations and strategic arts initiatives. We will fund 888 organisations in total, of which 266 will get an above-inflation investment. These include established organisations like the National Youth Theatre and Yorkshire Sculpture Park and younger organisations such as Kneehigh and the Arcola Theatre. A total of 487 organisations will receive rises in line with inflation and there will be 81 new Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs) including Hofesh Shechter, Punchdrunk, and the AV Festival. These increases in funding will enable arts organisations to develop excellent art and deliver it to the widest range of people. Those organisations will also be empowered to take artistic risks. There are exciting times ahead as we respond to the McMaster report, ensuring that excellence and high quality arts experiences remain at the heart of what we do. The arts are about exploring possibility; making excellence possible is what we are about. After receiving further evidence, deliberation by Regional and National Council, and examination of the 126 responses received from arts organisations, we revised a total of 17 funding proposals. The details of those revisions, and of all our funding decisions, are available from our website www.artscouncil.org.uk. I want the Arts Council in coming months and years to use this investment strategy to build its relationships with practitioners and the public and to build on the political consensus that is emerging that the Arts really matter. Change of this nature is inevitably difficult, but no change would have been the easy option. I’m convinced that this is the right thing, and the right strategy to build a healthier, bolder, stronger arts environment in this country. Alan Davey Chief Executive Arts Council England Celebrating our investment in the North East The recent round of funding announcements has been good news for those organisations with which the Arts Council has an agreement to provide regular and ongoing grants. As part of an ambitious vision for the future of the arts in the region, these Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs) will share an investment of £43 million from Arts Council England, North East between 2008 and 2011. The money is distributed between 73 organisations – including five new ones - and those who received increases in line with, or above, inflation make up more than 69 per cent of the total. RFOs cover a multitude of arts disciplines and among the recipients of the biggest increases in funding are mima, Tees Music Alliance, BALTIC and balletLORENT. Those receiving regular funding for the first time include AV Festival, North East Cultural Diversity Arts Forum (NECDAF) and Designed & Made. The funding strategy is designed to shape and support an arts sector committed to delivering excellent art to the widest range of people, and one empowered to take artistic risk. On a national scale, the Arts Council will invest £1.3 billion in supporting the arts over the next three years. Mark Robinson, Executive Director, Arts Council England, North East said, ‘The arts in the North East have changed radically over the last ten years. We’re funding a set of outstanding organisations to deliver a real diversity of arts to regional audiences, and the growing number of visitors attracted to the North East by our artists, buildings, festivals and events. They will also provide a real opportunity for artists of today and tomorrow.’ Arts Council Chair Christopher Frayling said, ‘I firmly believe the funding will help make the arts in England even stronger. The plan backs excellence, brings in a new generation of practitioners and redistributes resources across the arts sector.’ ‘It has been a complex and challenging process, which has involved, throughout, working closely with arts organisations, listening to their concerns, and listening to members of the public too.’ ‘What has emerged from this is an ambitious vision that will build on the success of the last ten years.’ For more information on Regularly Funded Organisations visit www.artscouncil.org.uk Cradle of creativity The successful Cultural Business Venture (CBV) scheme is coming to an end after eight years of providing financial support to creative entrepreneurs and businesses in the region. CBV, enabled by funders including Arts Council England, North East, has been giving support to small and medium business enterprises working in the creative industries such as: advertising, architecture, art and antiques, crafts, design, designer fashion, film and video, music, the performing arts, publishing, and TV and radio. Grants from £1,000 to £6,000 have been awarded to successful applicants for a variety of uses, including start-up costs, fitting out or improving offices, buying office equipment or marketing and promotional needs. Funding reached as much as 75 per cent of individual projects costs. Jonathan Martin, Creative Industries Development Officer for Arts Council England, North East said, ‘CBV has been a great opportunity for creative entrepreneurs. We think this kind of scheme has been vital in supporting and nurturing creative businesses and it has been extremely rewarding to run.’ Hundreds of applicants have been successful in gaining funding, including Tessa Holland, with her range of contemporary jewellery; Qurios Entertainment Limited based in Hartlepool, whose animation and design is now reaching international markets, and previous ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ contestant, fashion designer Scott Henshall. One of the most recent beneficiaries of a CBV award is 27-year-old Rachel Lynch from Morpeth who was awarded nearly £4,000 in January this year to set-up her own portrait photography business. Rachel, who decided she wanted to become a photographer after travelling for six months on a round-the-world trip, is delighted with her grant. ‘It’s given my business a massive boost,’ said Rachel. ‘I’ve already spent some of the money on a new camera and lenses.’ ‘My aim is to create beautiful images of people and animals, capture relationships and personalities. I want to become one of the country’s leading animal portrait photographers,’ she added. ‘I still feel it’s early days for me and I know I have a long way to go but the CBV grant has certainly helped to put me on the right track.’ For more information visit www.artscouncil.org.uk Happy Birthday, Angel As a familiar figure standing tall at the gateway to the Team Valley. The Angel of the North seems to have been with us forever – but in fact it celebrates the 10th anniversary of its installation in February 2008. Antony Gormley’s colossal work is seen by an estimated 90,000 people every day, traveling on the East Coast mainline or the A1, and many others pay a special visit to the former colliery site to experience the Angel close-up – as many as 150,000 every year. The raw statistics still impress. 208 tonnes of steel and copper went into the figure which stands on foundations 20 metres (65ft) deep and reaches skywards as high again – more than the height of four double-decker buses. Today the Angel meets with acclaim, and has been called the most popular piece of public sculpture in Britain. But the path to installation was by no means an easy one. In the mid-nineties there was concerted opposition to the sculpture, which only abated in 1996 when funding was secured. In all, it took seven years for Gateshead Council to guide the project through to the satisfaction of press, the public and politicians. The Arts Council’s Lottery Fund contributed £584,000 to the total cost of £800,000, a major investment in the project. Leader of Gateshead Council, Councillor Mick Henry said, ‘The Angel of the North has changed the history of public art and how the North East region is viewed. Gateshead Council's commissioning of the Angel of the North, began as an ambitious idea but at the time no one really could imagine just how this sculpture would change the public face of Gateshead - now it has become a national and international icon, and the benchmark against which all public art landmark sculptures are judged.’ ‘Without Arts Council funding and support for the sculpture, none of this would be possible but both Gateshead and the wider region continue to reap the benefits of its success.’ The welcome arrival of the Angel seems to have kick started a new enthusiasm for arts and culture in the North East. During the past decade the Arts Council has invested in landmark openings of arts venues across the region, including Seven Stories, The National Glass Centre, BALTIC, The Sage Gateshead and mima, as well as supporting redevelopment of facilities at Live Theatre and Darlington Arts Centre. The arrival of the Angel has heralded an increased investment in a range of events and festivals and attracted greater interest from private and public sector agencies in working together to commission art in the North East. To find our more about public art in the North East visit www.commissionsnorth.org Music to their ears Tees Music Alliance has been operating for the benefit of musicians, performers and audiences for more than 20 years. And the next three years will see them extending their reach further with a funding rise from Arts Council England, North East. Our support of nearly £31,000 in 2008 will increase to over £53,000 in 2010 - 2011. Paul Burns, Director of Tees Music Alliance said, ‘Backing from the Arts Council represents everything really – it’s a manifestation of their confidence in our abilities, that we’re doing the right thing, and it gives other people confidence in us further down the line.’ Tees Music Alliance work on all kinds of projects. NExNE is a music convention, which has happened annually for the past four years, where industry people debate issues of the day. NERO is an informal trade association for various businesses in the North East which are involved with the promotion, production, publishing or distribution of recorded material. NEMNET is a web-based portal which aims to give high quality listings of essential resources for aspiring musicians, such as venues, rehearsal rooms and recording studios. The alliance also runs the Georgian Theatre in Stockton and the Green Dragon Studios and organises the very popular Fringe Festival which runs alongside the Stockton International Riverside Festival. Finally there is From Teesside With Love, the project which supports musicians wanting to raise their profile. As Paul Burns said, ‘There’s never been a shortage of talent in this area, but there needs to be the infrastructure to go with it for bands and musicians to really come through. From Teesside With Love is concentrating on live music production at the moment, but in the wider music world there are a lot more opportunities for people to take greater control of the process.’ For more information, visit www.teesmusicalliance.org.uk The Sage soars Ten years in the planning, The Sage Gateshead opened its doors in December 2004 and has rapidly become one of the region’s visual and cultural landmarks. Arts Council England, North East, continues to recognise and support its status as a world-class venue with an increase in funding over the next three years, rising from just over £3.6 million to nearly £3.8 million by 2010 - 2011. The Sage Gateshead describes itself as ‘an international home for music and musical discovery’ and has done much in its three years of operation to back its claim. It is the home of the Northern Sinfonia, which forms the backbone of much of the venue’s classical programme, but a wide range of popular, jazz, world, classical, dance, brass band, experimental, folk and traditional music has been performed in one of the two performance halls. The local, national and international programme runs all year round with concerts in the morning, over lunch, in the evening and late at night. As well as being the audience, visitors to The Sage Gateshead are encouraged to learn and participate. There are eight programmes in place to encourage everyone to become involved in, and stimulated by, music no matter what their age or ability. Anthony Sargent, General Director, The Sage Gateshead said, ‘Despite the national and international impact The Sage Gateshead has made for the region to date, and the essential place it has won in the hearts of local music-lovers, we are still a very young company – we have only been fully operational for just over three years. Throughout that time the Arts Council’s financial support has been a significant element of our mix of earned and grant income. This helps secure The Sage Gateshead’s core costs as a platform from which we can then earn the rest of our income from the broad range of our musical and trading activities.’ Mark Robinson, Executive Director, Arts Council England, North East said, ‘Since opening, The Sage Gateshead has demonstrated excellence in both the quality and reach of its performance and educational programmes. We are confident that our investment will ensure the continued success of this work.’ For more information visit www.thesagegateshead.org Dramatic lift for ballet company Highly successful contemporary dance company balletLORENT, based in Newcastle upon Tyne, is growing in scale – a growth that is being supported by increased funding from Arts Council England, North East. Over the next three years, Arts Council support will grow from £105,000 to just over £170,000, allowing for the creation of more work for audiences of all ages. The company was founded in 1993 by Artistic Director Liv Lorent, a dancer and choreographer, who moved to Newcastle in 1996. Since then balletLORENT has been passionately committed to the North East. The company challenges and develops new forms within dance, exploring innovative ways of interacting with its audience. 2008 is an exceptionally busy time for the company with Designer Body premiering at The Sage Gateshead and Angelmoth, the first of balletLORENT’s works to be aimed at young people as well as adults, touring throughout February. At the beginning of February, the company showcased its talents at British Dance Edition in Liverpool. The next project is MaEternal, a piece which will feature dancers sharing the stage with a dozen pregnant women from the North East. Mark Robinson, Executive Director, Arts Council England, North East said, ‘Our increased commitment in funding is a testament to the exceptional quality of work balletLORENT consistently produce. We will be supporting them as they grow and to deliver a programme of work on a bigger scale.’ Liv Lorent, Artistic Director, balletLORENT said, ‘This funding is a welcome step on the way to finding out what our company is capable of achieving. Without this kind of financial support, balletLORENT, and many other contemporary dance groups, simply wouldn’t exist.’ For more information visit www.balletlorent.com mima steps onto an international stage Arts Council England, North East, is delighted to announce a significant uplift in their support for mima, Middlesbrough’s bold new gallery of contemporary art. From 2008 to 2011, funding will reach over £200,000 – a reflection of support which marks the gallery’s success since doors opened in January 2007. A mark of mima’s growing international reputation is the recent award of £1 million from the Art Fund, the UK’s leading independent art charity. The award will allow mima to create a collection of international contemporary art, a task they will carry out in partnership with The Drawing Centre in New York. In late January this year, mima won a share of a £50,000 prize for contemporary craft from The Art Fund. Only four UK museums and galleries were selected to win a share of the fund in the charity’s new initiative, Art Fund Collect, and mima won for its choice of Monumental Vase IV by Julian Stair, bought for £25,263, which will now become part of its permanent collection. Godfrey Worsdale, Director, mima said, ‘News of mima's funding uplift from the Arts Council is extremely welcome, and we are thrilled to be able to build and expand upon the successes of our opening year. This additional funding offers mima a sustainable environment in which we can continue to deliver a programme of internationally renowned exhibitions and accompanying education events, at the high standards that we have set.’ Mark Robinson, Executive Director, Arts Council England, North East said, ‘We are proud of our investment in this worldclass gallery that brings the best of modern and contemporary art to the heart of Middlesbrough. mima’s innovative approach has already attracted awards and interest from strategic arts partners, including The Art Fund and The Drawing Centre, New York. We are looking forward to supporting mima to achieve future success through developing these relationships.’ For more information visit www.visitmima.com Clear future at National Glass Centre The visual arts are a key priority for the Arts Council, and this is reflected in increased levels of funding for the National Glass Centre in Sunderland. Financial support will rise over the next three years from a little over £148,000 to more than £195,000. Housed in a spectacular contemporary steel and glass building, with panoramic views over the River Wear, the National Glass Centre is a unique institution dedicated to exploring ideas through glass and providing a focus for enjoyment, inspiration and creativity. Katherine Pearson, Director, National Glass Centre said, ‘Arts Council funding is exceptionally important with regard to building our reputation as a significant cultural venue for artists and audiences.’ ‘The last two years have seen a significant shift which has seen us leaving the past as a tourist attraction behind and moving towards pursuing an artistic, cultural and educational remit.’ ‘Dropping the entrance fee has been an important part of that shift, so that people can make more visits. We have strong themes to our exhibitions, and we explore different ways that audiences can approach those themes so that as many people as possible can engage with the work – visitor numbers have now risen to more than 150,000 per year.’ Grainne Sweeney, Creative Director of the National Glass Centre said, ‘The Arts Council funding is a fantastic endorsement of what we set out to do two years ago. We have five spaces constantly changing so we can show new work as well as existing museum collections and private collections.’ ‘We now have a reputation of such standing that artists are approaching us to talk about new work – and our unique production facilities, along with the atmosphere of creativity that exists here, are assets that they just can’t find elsewhere.’ ‘We’re looking forward to moving on and building on the last two years’ success, and especially to developing more new work with artists.’ For more information visit www.nationalglasscentre.com Turning point at BALTIC As the biggest gallery of its kind in the world BALTIC has proved to be an international leader in the ambitious and distinctive presentation of contemporary visual art. Arts Council England, North East have acknowledged the need for BALTIC to capitalize on its current successes, and the need to continue to deliver a programme of excellence in their gallery spaces through awarding additional funding over the next 3 years. With funding of over £2 million per year from 2008 – 2011, the Arts Council are confident that BALTIC will present an increasingly ambitious, innovative and wide-ranging programme, to include exhibitions by established ‘big name’ artists as well as smaller scale shows which offer opportunities to emerging artists. Andrew Lovett, Acting Director of BALTIC said, ‘I am thrilled that Arts Council England has been able, as part of what has obviously been a particularly complex and testing decision-making process, to considerably extend its funding support for BALTIC over the next three years, in recognition and belief that BALTIC is a vital centre for excellence in visual art. ‘We are driven by our desire to offer unrivalled access to creativity through first-hand experiences of art and artists. This funding announcement is a very significant strategic investment by the Arts Council and an acknowledgement of their confidence in BALTIC sustaining its long-term future, and tremendously good news for North East England.’ Mark Robinson, Executive Director, Arts Council England, North East said, ‘The future investment in BALTIC is as part of the Arts Council’s commitment to Turning Point – a long-term strategy which builds on existing investment and the success and impact of the contemporary visual arts. It covers spaces and resources for production and presentation, including workforce and employment development, in order to meet the needs and aspirations of artists, audiences and participants. ‘Turning point will help deliver the Arts Council mission to place the arts at the centre of national life and people at the heart of the arts. It will be supported by an action plan, developed with partners and the broader visual arts sector. Its implementation depends on integrated planning and investment to underpin the sustainability and growth of the contemporary visual arts. The increased investment in BALTIC will enable them to make a significant impact in the implementation of Turning Point.’ For more information visit www.balticmill.com For more information on Turning Point visit www.artscouncil.org.uk Theatre on the rise Northern Stage, the largest producing theatre company in the North East of England, has had its next three years’ funding assured by Arts Council England, North East. The company, which is now seen as one of the top ten UK producing theatres, will see Arts Council investment rise to total of over £1.3million by 2010 -2011. Since Northern Stage re-opened in August 2006, following the £9 million refurbishment of the former Newcastle Playhouse and Gulbenkian theatres, the three stages have seen lively, visually driven performances which have been critically acclaimed. Alongside work created in-house, there have been examples of the best in local, national and international theatre. The 2008 season looks to be as exciting and challenging as ever with more than 20 productions lined up in the first half of the year alone, including Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, scheduled for mid-April. Erica Whyman, Artistic Director, Northern Stage said, ‘Arts Council funding contributes to Northern Stage’s capacity to create new productions and to tour nationally as well as to bring the very best UK and international theatre companies to the North East. This uplift acknowledges the ambitious and daring programme we have offered since our reopening and the reach and inventiveness of our participation programme. It would not have been possible to invite Robert Lepage to work with us or to produce the epic Our Friends In The North without Arts Council support. Arts Council funding is also a critical endorsement which encourages other supporters to play their part in the theatre’s success. We are grateful to Arts Council for recognising the key role we play in the region and nationally.’ Mark Robinson, Executive Director, Arts Council England, North East said, ‘Our increased support for Northern Stage will help them realise their ambitions to continue to produce excellent theatre and performing arts and to make progress with their audience development programme.’ For more information visit www.northernstage.co.uk In brief Arts Council support Alnwick Festival Thanks to funding from the Arts Council, Alnwick will host Further Upstix, the 5th Pride of Place Rural Touring Theatre Festival in April. This is a fantastic opportunity to see the work of fourteen national and international theatre companies working specifically in rural communities. The festival is packed with a programme of shows and events for everyone including families, young people and adults. With performances that range from the traditional to the experimental, musical to physical theatre, new work to classic stories. In addition, there will be the opportunity to hear a series of ‘Cultural Provocations’ from a wide range of nationally celebrated speakers airing their views on art, theatre and the world – this will culminate in an Open Space style conference examining the place of theatre and art in rural communities, where everyone can express their views. Further Upstix, Thursday 3 – Sunday 6 April, for tickets and further information 01665 510785 or visit www.alnwickplayhouse.co.uk Way to go at Waygood Work has begun on the exciting redevelopment of Waygood Gallery and Studios on High Bridge in Newcastle. The project, which is supported by capital funding from Arts Council England, North East, will create a new city centre cultural venue to include galleries, artist studios, a learning centre, café bar and club, office space and the Waygood Art Boutique. The Waygood Art Boutique will open on 30 April on High Bridge, serving as an information centre on the development as it progresses and will also be a place to buy contemporary art and interesting gifts. For further information on Waygood, visit www.waygood.org New Staff We would like to welcome the following staff, Kathryn Goodfellow, Officer, Communications, Yvette Hawkins, Administrator, CSDI and Phillipa Raper, Project Co-ordinator, Creative Partnerships, Northumberland. Arts Council England, North East, Central Square, Forth Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3PJ Phone: 0845 300 6200 Fax: 0191 230 1020 Textphone: 0191 255 8585 Email: email@example.com Website: www.artscouncil.org.uk Designed by Pearsons, Middlesbrough. Printed by Vision Press, Middlesbrough.