Funding to get more involvment in the arts

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CASH is to be allocated to south east Northumberland to help the area out of the bottom 20 per cent in the UK for participation in the arts.

Northumberland County Council’s executive has agreed to reallocate £20,000 from existing culture budgets to pave the way for a bid for match funding from Art Council England.

A study undertaken by Queen’s Hall Hexham looked at key cultural facilities including Blyth’s Phoenix Theatre, Woodhorn Museum near Ashington and Seaton Delaval Hall, as well as assessing strengths and weaknesses and opportunities to expand arts activity.

Around 70 people took part in the study, in which they were asked what kind of support, aside from money, they needed to deliver arts activities and what kind of approach would be most sustainable.

The key points made included the need for artist-led groups and organisations, well-equipped spaces to create and display artistic work and better leadership and co-ordination.

The executive has now agreed that a full review of funding for the arts across Northumberland should be completed by 2014, in line with the next major funding cycle for Arts Council England.

Coun Alan Thompson said: “I’m pleased that the investigation has shown the need there is in south east Northumberland.

“Constructive out-of-school activities are important for young people.

“Out-of-school hours spent on arts, and crafts, are important in terms of social development.

“These things need to be addressed.”

Coun Lesley Rickerby pointed out that 81 per cent of arts funding in the region currently goes to Newcastle-Gateshead.

She said: “I welcome the £20,000 and I welcome the study. It’s not just about the schools but they do help.

“In my filing cabinet at home I have plans for an art centre in Blyth – £20,000 is not going to go far, but if you can add a few noughts we can get this art centre up and running.”