Funding boost for the arts in Northumberland

The Arts Council is set to double its annual funding to Northumberland as the investment for the next four years was announced today.

Tuesday, 27th June 2017, 10:39 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 7:46 am
The Maltings in Berwick.

In the county, a total of £4,760,976 is being invested over four years from April 2018 in Arts Council national portfolio organisations.

This investment will go to eight organisations including Bloodaxe Books, Queen’s Hall Arts, November Club and The Maltings in Berwick.

Three Northumberland organisations are new to the national portfolio, which forms the backbone of England’s cultural infrastructure. They are Woodhorn Charitable Trust, Arts&Heritage and the Association for Cultural Enterprises, while the investment to Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival is being increased.

In a period when museums enter the national portfolio for the first time, the council has significantly increased its investment in the county by more than £2.6 million for the 2018-22 period.

Three new heritage organisations which work closely with local communities and smaller, often rural museums, join the portfolio. This will help towards the commitment to increase investment in rural areas, where museums and heritage can be an important part of the local identity.

Woodhorn Charitable Trust manages a number of specialist museums across Northumberland with deep connections to the community, such as the Chantry Bagpipe Museum in Morpeth. For the last four years, it has also run a very successful Creative People and Places project called bait. Woodhorn joins the national portfolio as part of plans to increase investment in rural areas.

Arts&Heritage supports smaller museums to develop their work around visual arts, helping them to use their collections in creative ways to attract new audiences.

The Association for Cultural Enterprises also joins the national portfolio as part of the integration of museums. They help organisations to be more resilient, for example, by supporting them to develop and build their trading activity and commercial skills.

The council recognises that museums – and in particular, links between art and heritage – are a strength in Northumberland, and this new funding is in addition to the recent £500,000 investment in Woodhorn Charitable Trust, Arts&Heritage and Chesterholm Museum – Vindolanda through the Museums Resilience Fund.

Outside of museums, Bloodaxe Books, based in Hexham, is one of three major poetry publishers in England with an international reputation for quality in literature and excellence in book design. Also based in Hexham is Queens Hall Arts Centre, which – along with The Maltings in Berwick – forms part of the network of arts centres in the portfolio.

Contributing to the region’s varied cultural landscape is November Club which produces innovative productions in heritage sites. Last year it was also awarded £85,000 through the Strategic Touring fund to create a new musical exploring life in contemporary Northumberland called Beyond the End of the Road, which is currently touring across the region to sold-out audiences.

Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival will receive additional investment to increase the work they do with local communities, including young people. In addition, an increase in funding will help them to develop local talent by supporting emerging artists through a new bursary scheme.

Jane Tarr, the Arts Council’s north director, said: “Northumberland has a distinctive and vibrant culture with festivals, arts centres and museums, from Queens Hall and the Bagpipe Museum, to the Maltings and Berwick Film and Media Festival. There are theatre companies like November Club, which capture the spirit of Northumberland, and it’s also home to a number of organisations that are nationally important, like Bloodaxe Books and Arts&Heritage.

“We’re thrilled to be increasing our investment in a substantially rural area, adding to the rich variety of cultural organisations in the county. At the same time, we’re continuing our long-term support for bait, the Creative People and Places project in south-east Northumberland and for the current Hadrian’s Cavalry exhibition and the events taking place right along the wall.”