Touring art group gets funding boost

Craft Tour - Textile Stories which came to Newbiggin with Highlights this year.
Craft Tour - Textile Stories which came to Newbiggin with Highlights this year.

A project helping bring art to the communities of Northumberland is celebrating a cash windfall.

Highlights has been included in the latest round of National Portfolio (NPO) funding announced by Arts Council England.

The Arts Council’s continued support for Northumberland’s touring scheme acknowledges the value and success of the project and ensures that small communities across the county will be able to access a range of quality performances and exhibitions through to 2018.

Highlights is one of 670 arts organisations that will make up Arts Council England’s new National Portfolio of regularly-funded organisations. Around 900 arts organisations are thought to have applied.

The scheme is one of the largest rural touring programmes in the country, working with a network of 85 venues across three counties – Northumberland, Cumbria and Durham.

Highlights’ successful application was submitted as a partnership bid with Arts Out West – the scheme that covers West Cumbria. The NPO funding amounts to £359,400 over the three-year funding period from 2015–18.

Highlights co-director, Barbara Slack, said “This is great news for Highlights and for the communities we serve.

“This funding ensures that we can continue to bring the very best in small scale touring from regional and national performance companies into the heart of Northumberland.

“It allows us longer term planning to be able to build on our success to date and, together with county council funding, ensures our foreseeable future.”

Highlights works in partnership with 25 volunteer promoters in village halls and community venues spread across Northumberland – including Bedlington, Ashington, Newbiggin and Seaton Delaval.