Safer, Stronger Communities and Culture Partnership 30th January 2009
Arts Council

BACKGROUND TO GATESHEAD ARTS ASSOCIATION (GAA) The Association was formed more than forty years ago from an idea of the then Gateshead Council Librarian, Mr Tom Cardy. An inaugural meeting was held in the Caedmon Hall at the Central Library in Gateshead attended by representatives of various artistic groups. A committee was formed and a small Constitution created. From the outset Gateshead Council were very supportive and remain so to this day. The Association Secretary has always been a Council employee. The support given over the years by the Libraries and Arts team has been considerable. President and management committee are elected at the Annual General Meeting. Our President is the leader of Gateshead Council, Councillor Mick Henry. Committee meetings are held on the first Tuesday evening of every month in the Central Library. Membership is open to non professional Performing, Literary and Visual Arts groups or individuals based in the Gateshead Council area. MISSION STATEMENT Gateshead Arts Association aims to promote participation in the Arts across the Gateshead Council area and the region. Arts activities are a key part of our Culture and are absolutely vital to our Health, Social and Artistic development. The activities in which people participate are for self expression, Social Networking and leisure. The range of art forms is wide and includes the Performing, Literary and Visual Arts. EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES POLICY The Association is an amateur organisation managed by officers and committee elected at its Annual General Meeting. The Association seeks nominations for officers and committee from the wider membership. Nomination is open to representatives from member organisations or individuals.

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Our Equal Opportunities Policy covers the practices of the Association and its wider responsibility, within the framework of existing legislation, to ensure equality of access to the performing, literary and visual arts irrespective of race, colour, ethnic or national origins, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, religious beliefs, political beliefs or economic status. This includes access to buildings, information, and consultation. MEMBERSHIP DIRECTORY Our membership Directory includes contact details of sixty eight groups. Art Groups Choirs Choral Groups Dance Drama and Theatre schools Drama and Theatre Companies Fine Arts Floral Art Instrumental Local History Societies Music Appreciation groups Operatic and Dramatic Photographic Retired Arts Writing Sugar Craft Community Chaplaincy Total 10 8 3 4 4 5 1 4 4 4 4 5 6 1 3 1 1 68

ACTIVITIES OF THE ASSOCIATION In line with our Mission statement we hold events which are intended to be a showcase of the many artistic talents of our member groups. Whenever possible, groups of diverse artistic interests are encouraged to participate together in an event. This leads to greater Social Networking enabling groups to learn more of each other‟s activities. A number of events have successfully included, for example, Choirs mixed with Floral Art, Photography and Art. Our September 2007 event at the Sage Gateshead combined Children‟s Theatre, Break Dancing, Video Arts, Choirs, Floral Art, Art, Folk groups and children from community groups. Our June 2008 event at the Caedmon Hall involved the Progressive Players from Gateshead‟s only purpose built theatre, Gateshead Little Theatre in Saltwell View, Blaydon Writers, Reavley Theatre School and the Caprian Theatre Company. Over the years we have held Arts Festivals. One such festival concluded with a concert in the Gateshead Leisure Centre. Involving a massed Choir, Felling Brass Band, Rapper Dancers and Children‟s Dance Schools. We also aim to obtain assistance for members to cope with an increasing amount of legislation as diverse as Health and Safety, Equal Opportunities, Licensing, Data Protection Child Protection and Portable Appliance Testing which must be complied with.

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FINANCE OF GAA The Association does not receive any funding directly for its activities. Money where needed is raised from proceeds of events, or grants. Recently we were fortunate to receive a grant from Gateshead Council to be used for specific purposes and not for running costs. Occasionally when artists are able to sell works of art at a GAA event we are able to obtain a percentage of any selling price by way of a commission. Where groups take part in our events, we try to ensure that we can at least cover their travelling expenses. FINANCE OF MEMBER GROUPS Many of the groups do not have a great deal of finance, having to pay rents for use of premises and general running costs Groups raise money to cover running costs by member subscriptions and revenue from events, such as ticket receipts and raffles. On occasions applications for grant funding for specific projects from bodies like Gateshead Council and the National Lottery are successful. Following a successful bid to the National Lottery, GAA were successfully awarded £12,000 of Lottery funding to enable purchase of items for our members. Items not normally affordable, such as Keyboards, Artists easels, photographic and recording equipment were purchased. UMBRELLA BODIES A number of our member groups are affiliated to Umbrella Groups related to their own artistic interest. Some of these bodies are:

National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA)       National Association of Floral Arranging Societies (NAFAS) National Association of Choirs National Federation of Music Societies Northern Counties Photographic Federation International Federation of Photographic Art Little Theatre Guild

VENUES AND FACILITIES A range of venues are used for group regular meetings including, libraries, community centres, church halls and social clubs. Venues for public performances and exhibitions are used both within and outside of the Borough. Groups travel and perform all over Britain and even Europe. Disney Land, Paris is a popular venue for one of our Children‟s Theatre Schools. Caedmon Hall, Sage Gateshead, St. Mary‟s Visitor Centre have been used. By Easter of 2009 the Gateshead Old Town Hall will become available as a performance and exhibition area. It is anticipated that it will be widely used by our members. The Dryden Centre, (formerly the Gateshead Girls Grammar School) has been a popular venue for Musical and Pantomime productions many years. Not without its problems, a recent move by the Centre management to dispose of the tiered seating resulted in user groups, wishing to provide

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comfortable seating for their patrons at shows, having to pay £1400 ex VAT for a weeks use to provide it. An expense they can ill afford. HOW CAN THE GAA CONTRIBUTE TO THE CULTURAL STRATEGY? Greater interventions to achieve Vision 2030. Strategic interventions for Gateshead Strategic Partnership are based on six big ideas. These are ambitious, aspirational and bold to tackle the challenges we face. The Association attitude to at least four of these is as follows. CREATIVE GATESHEAD Local people that can access a breadth of creative experiences and opportunities. There are two ways of being creative. One can sing and dance. Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers flourish. Warren Bennis. Creative talent exists in all of us and with the correct outlet many things are achievable. Artistic groups provide the means to exploit that creative talent. Groups exist due to that desired involvement and satisfy that need to get involved. Many people benefit from membership of a particular group by learning new skills or reviving and improving existing skills by way of integrating with other members or from experienced tutors, amateur or professional, in teaching sessions. A good example of this is the transition from the use of film to digital cameras in photographic groups. Members of the wider community benefit from these activities either as participants or by attending exhibitions, or as concert/show audiences. "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." Scott Adams. SUSTAINABLE GATESHEAD Sustainability can be applied to all aspects of life, work and communities. By continuation of activities with membership drawn from new and younger people. By embracing new skills and techniques within those activities. Groups will survive in a changing world and remain as a factor in a sustainable community. ACTIVE AND HEALTHY GATESHEAD Health is fundamental to well-being and long life. Health is determined by many factors. Within Gateshead we want to create the healthiest communities in the country providing opportunities and encouragement for all and positively influencing the factors affecting health. Laughter is by definition Healthy – Doris Lessing. We are all constantly made aware of the way to good health by participating in physical activity, observing correct diet, limiting alcohol intake, avoiding drug abuse and smoking. Physical activity is not a panacea. A physically active younger life often leads to health problems in later life.

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Artistic activities in themselves may not readily be perceived as a way to good health. An active mind in a creative head can be very healthy. Satisfaction gained from presenting a successful artistic activity, the culmination of many hours of hard work, contributes greatly to mental well-being of individuals or groups. Physical activity is not a principal aim of artistic groups but many, by way of their activities, indulge in physical activity. Rehearsing and performing a choreographed routine in a show or taking part in Rapper or Folk Dancing most certainly involves a lot of physical activity. It is very likely that group members also take part in physical activities outside of their artistic pursuits, how many attend gymnasia or run the Great North Run? Socialising also plays a vital part in well-being, either during activity practice or in the pub afterwards, of course observing recommended alcohol limits in the interests of good health. GATESHEAD VOLUNTEERS Gateshead Volunteers is about enabling everyone to make a recognised contribution to their community. Volunteering is something that can benefit both the individual and the wider community. Artistic groups and their members are all volunteers, although they may not always think of their artistic involvement in that way. They do not actively seek Volunteering qualifications (NVQ‟s). All work they do, carried out in their spare time, is their hobby which perhaps provides relief from other aspects of their lives, for instance their employment. It is an outlet for talent not required elsewhere. All the work they do is done without personal financial reward. They make a contribution by actively involving the community in their work either as participants or spectators. They also contribute financially, holding events specifically for charitable purposes and by donating portions of annual turnover to good causes. Very often these donations are made to local charitable organisations and find their way back into the community. Over half the UK adult population is involved in the voluntary arts and crafts - those arts and crafts that people undertake for self-improvement, social networking and leisure, but not primarily for payment. They are wide-ranging and include folk, dance, drama, literature, media, music, visual arts, crafts and applied arts, and festivals. EXTRACTS FROM THE VOLUNTARY ARTS NETWORK (VAN) WEBSITE In November 2007, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Arts Council England (ACE) commissioned the first ever national study of the voluntary and amateur arts sector in England, called ‘Our Creative Talent’. This was the first step towards developing a comprehensive understanding of this very complex sector. Whilst the study focuses specifically on England, our work, knowledge and experience of the sector suggests that similar research conducted across the UK and Ireland would greatly enhance our understanding of how the voluntary and amateur arts contribute to an arts environment that is placing an increasing value on participation. The „Our Creative Talent‟ report clearly highlights the crucial role the voluntary and amateur arts sector plays in making our communities happier and healthier places to live. It shows that arts

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participation is increasingly recognised as valuable for individuals and communities – people associate the arts with friendship, spending time with family and gaining a sense of a shared experience. Research for Our Creative Talent took six months and focused on two key aspects of participation. 1. Formally organised voluntary and amateur arts groups across eight categories: craft, dance, festivals, literature, media, music, theatre and visual arts, where members attend for reasons such as self-improvement, social networking or leisure, but not primarily for payment. 2. Adult arts learning that does not lead to external accreditation and is undertaken for personal development, cultural enrichment, intellectual or creative stimulation and enjoyment. The findings speak for themselves. • Formally organised voluntary and amateur arts groups are a crucially important part of the arts ecology and account for almost one fifth of all arts participation in England, although in some regions it is higher than this. • There are 49,140 groups across the country with a total of 5.9 million members. An additional 3.5 million people volunteer as extras or helpers – a total of 9.4 million people taking part. • The sector has an income of £543m a year. In general, it is not looking for core public funding. Groups are entrepreneurial about generating income and take pride in their ability to be self sustaining and deliver a quality artistic product. In 2006/07, groups put on 710,000 performances or exhibitions, which attracted 159 million attendances. On average, a voluntary and amateur group attracts 220 people to each performance or exhibition. • 564,000 people have management roles in voluntary arts groups. The time, expertise and commitment these individuals invest in the sector are a real asset that, if not delivered for free, would come at a high price. • Voluntary and amateur groups provide opportunities for people who would not otherwise participate in the arts to do so within their local community, and are particularly well placed to engage new audiences and participants in the arts. • Appreciation of the art form is the main motivation for participation in a group. The idea that the amateur arts are low quality is totally at odds with the ambitions of groups who strive for the highest standards and take pride in the quality of their work. Many groups have a national and even international reputation for the quality of their work. • The relationship between the amateur and professional sectors is of vital importance and the two sectors are mutually supportive. Groups spend £125m employing professional artists, either on a long term or ad hoc basis. Professional artists benefit not only in terms of employment but also developing their creative practice, experiencing new ways of working and deepening their understanding of audience development. • Access to good quality venues, at a reasonable cost, is a key issue. Groups spend £67m on venue hire for performances and £26m on venues for rehearsals/meetings. There is widespread concern about the rising cost of venue hire.

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• Other issues affecting the sector are the complexity of grant application processes, the need to raise profile, attract new members, advice and guidance on compliance with legislation. • The sector has tremendous potential, but there are constraints on the extent to which any one group can expand. There are significant challenges involved in moving to a larger venue and taking on additional management burdens, and individual members can have less opportunity to contribute in larger groups. • There is a view that in some areas those policy-makers have unduly prioritised the professional sector. Policy-makers need to engage more effectively with the voluntary and amateur sector if they are not to miss a major opportunity to increase opportunities for participation in the arts. • Local authority arts officers can play a crucial role in developing capacity but their engagement with the voluntary and amateur arts is often reactive and ad hoc. The introduction of local data collection on levels of arts engagement, will enable comparisons to be made between local authorities for the first time, may be a powerful lever for change. • In the last three years there were 1.9 million adult enrolments in unaccredited training funded by the Learning and Skills Council. There were 36,800 classes across England offered by 4,560 providers. We deserve recognition. “From an Arts Council perspective, the voluntary Arts is not a footnote or appendix to the arts in England today, it is part of the core script --------- I think it is essential for us to move on beyond marvelling at the statistics and starting out how to unlock the enormous potential of the voluntary arts. What arts groups want and need is recognition, involvement, capacity building and challenge”. Arts Council England Chief Executive Alan Davey „Our Creative Talent‟ has proven what we have been saying for years – that voluntary arts groups are, amongst other things, hugely entrepreneurial, highly committed to their art form and ready to rise to any challenge, hence the large number of sustainable groups that have been running for many years. They make a significant contribution to the economy and provide an extensive range of opportunities at a very local level to participate in and engage with the arts, and in so doing contribute to their communities and to each individual‟s own sense of wellbeing. These reasons alone provide enough evidence on why it is important that the sector continues to thrive and develop. And yet there are so many more! So come on – the voluntary arts deserve much more support and much, much more recognition! IN CONCLUSION Arts groups can sometimes be very insular. They pursue their own interest with a passion and attain high level of achievement. GAA has been successful and will continue to strive to be successful in breaking down barriers between the diverse artistic interests whilst it is recognised that groups may only wish to be involved in their own artistic interests and we must respect that. This does not mean that we cannot seek assistance or advice on their behalf.

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The above statistics from VAN are a ready indicator of the depth of involvement people have in the voluntary arts. Gateshead‟s Vision 2030 details many milestones to be reached up to 2030. GAA and the Voluntary Arts surely will contribute significantly to these aims given the opportunity. TOM STAFFORD CHAIRMAN GAA

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