Tagged: Peter Stark

Northumberland hit again in arts funding ‘balancing act’

A theatre company renowned for its work with children is to lose all its funding while a festival for children will gain a three-year funding package.

It was a day of winners and losers as Arts Council England announced its list of arts organisations – its National Portfolio – guaranteed public subsidy from 2015-18.

For some it will have been no comfort to learn that 42 organisations will receive £53.7m over three years from next April.

Three years ago, when the National Portfolio came into existence, Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) learned it would lose all its annual £300,000 Arts Council funding from April 2012.

Not only did it fail in its bid to be reinstated yesterday but a second Northumberland theatre company, Hexham-based Théâtre Sans Frontières (TSF), was told it would get no more money from next year.

The company was founded in 1991 by John Cobb and Sarah Kemp and currently receives just over £200,000 to tour plays in French and Spanish to largely young audiences.

Yesterday company spokeswoman Alison Maw said: “Obviously we are disappointed. We are having a meeting with the trustees on Thursday.”

Gillian Hambleton, artistic director of NTC, said: “Basically they have cut theatre in Northumberland. It’s disgraceful. We’re still here fighting but there’s only so long you can carry on.”

One Northumberland theatre company, November Club, which specialises in site-specific work in historic locations, retains its National Portfolio status with about £100,000 annually over the coming three years.

Creative director Cinzia Hardy called it “a wonderful endorsement of our track record for excellence”.

She added that it would secure the company’s future for the next few years.

Also deprived of future National Portfolio status were Northern Architecture, Design Event and Tees Music Alliance.

Side Gallery, Newcastle, which lost funding when the first National Portfolio was announced in 2011, failed in its bid to get back on the list and was also unsuccessful with a bid for capital funding towards an ambitious improvement programme.

The only new North East addition to the National Portfolio – one of 48 around the country – will be the autumn Juice festival for children and young people which is run by destination marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI).

It is to receive £100,000 a year from April 2015 to March 2018.

Carol Bell, head of culture and major events at NGI, said: “Juice’s vision is to be the leading children and young people’s arts and cultural festival in the UK and Europe.

“NPO status will enable us to continue to pursue this ambition and to really establish Juice as a festival of national and international significance, building on the great work delivered over the past seven years.”

Most major NPO organisations in the North East got pretty much what they applied for.

Sage Gateshead will receive the £3.5m per annum that it asked for, prompting chairman Lord Falconer to say: “We’re very glad to have this vote of confidence in a very tough public funding environment.

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM), was delighted to retain its status as a major partner museum, meaning it will receive just over £1.5m per year from Arts Council England from next year.

But it is also to take over the role of North East Bridge organisation – which Sage Gateshead decided to relinquish – meaning it will work with cultural organisations, schools and colleges to ensure children and young people in the North East will get the chance to experience arts and culture. For this it will get Arts Council funding of £1.5m over three years.

TWAM will be the only museums organisation in the country charged with the role of Bridge organisation.

Director Iain Watson said: “Being awarded both major partner museum funding and Bridge organisation funding means we can realise our ambitious plans for developing opportunities for audiences to engage with our museums and collections over the next three years.”

Jane Tarr, who is Arts Council England’s director for the North and is based in Newcastle, said all applications for NPO status had been measured against five goals.

These were designed to ensure they would deliver great art for everyone, engage children and young people, prove resilient and be properly managed.

Of the decision to exlude TSF from the National Portfolio, she said: “It was a very, very tough decision.

“I think we recognised that TSF do good work and we are keen to carry on supporting this through other funding streams.”

She added: “We are supporting November Club, who do unique work and work in rural areas, and also Berwick Maltings which got a significant funding uplift last time.

We have also been able to support the Queen’s Hall in Hexham and the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival.”

Peter Stark, one-time boss of Northern Arts and co-author of a report called Rebalancing our Cultural Capital, issued a statement saying the announced funding settlement had “no demonstrated ambition” to address public investment in arts and culture that favoured London over the rest of England by a ratio of 14:1 in terms of population.

A claim that it represented a shift of 2% in favour of the regions amounted to just £6.4m which was exceeded by other grants announced recently to benefit London-based organisations.

He and his co-authors, Christopher Gordon and David Powell, said further analysis of the funding figures would be undertaken ahead of a “more authoritative” assessment.

In Newcastle Jane Tarr responded by saying: “It’s a small shift in terms of funding this time but it’s part of a much more significant shift since 2007.”

  • A series of capital grants announced yesterday by Arts Council England brought joy for Seven Stories, in Newcastle, which retains its National Portfolio status (worth £1.3m over three years) and will be able to invest £499,000 on refurbishment and improving facilities for visitors. Chief executive Kate Edwards said: “We are delighted that Arts Council England continues to recognise our pre-eminent position as the National Centre for Children’s Books.
  • Also announced yesterday was an award of £1.5m to Theatre Hullabaloo in Darlington towards converting an Edwardian fire station into a flagship children’s theatre, one of only three in the country and the first north of London. Theatre Hullabaloo, which runs the Take Off festival of children’s theatre, saw its National Portfolio funding hiked from £207,000 per year to £250,000 from next April.
  • A capital grant of £179,000 has been awarded to Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead so it can extend its library, establish learning zones and create an environmentally controlled archive space.
  • Durham County Council has won a ringing vote of confidence from Arts Council England with a doubling of its National Portfolio funding from around £200,000 to £415,000 per year from April 2015. The Arts Council has earmarked more money from Lumiere, which attracted 175,000 people in 2013 and is now seen as the country’s foremost festival of light-based art. Support has also been maintained for Durham’s book and brass festivals. The Arts Council stated: “Festivals have an important role to play in building audiences for the arts and presenting arts in unexpected ways as well as raising the area’s international profile and contributing to the local economy.”
  • Gem Arts, the North East development agency specialising in South Asian arts, will see its annual funding increased by 60% from £73,000 to £120,000 from next year. The money will help to support a new Indian Summer Festival to be programmed across major venues in Newcastle and Gateshead. This will connect the region with a project called RE-Imagine India which is being put together by the British Council to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Indian independence in 2017.
  • Arc, the arts centre in Stockton-on-Tees, has been awarded a capital grant of nearly £133,000 for improvements to the building. The Arts Council is also maintaining its support for the annual Stockton International Riverside Festival.
  • Northern Print, based in Newcastle and organiser of the International Print Biennale, which has just opened at venues across the region, has been awarded a capital grant of £147,000 for improvements to its studio in the Ouseburn Valley and to invest in digital print equipment.
  • Source –  Newcastle Journal,  02 July 2014

North East lottery cash subsidising London’s arts scene

The Arts Council has distributed more lottery funding to just five London institutions than the entire North East, a funding report today reveals.

Academics behind a new look at how lottery cash is spent on arts say that despite more households in the North of England playing the lottery than in London, regions outside the capital and the South East see nowhere near the same level of investment.

The report comes from the same team who last year revealed how London was soaking up Government arts cash.

Their latest study calls for a new model in how lottery cash is handed out.

In the North East, where some 56% of households play the lottery, the region has received £221m in lottery cash since 1995.

In London, where 32% of households play the lottery every week, some five groups alone – the Royal Opera House, the Royal National Theatre, English National Opera, Sadler’s Wells and the South Bank Centre – have received £315m.

Overall London has contributed £386m to Arts Council lottery cash, but has received back £1.1bn.

The report’s author’s last night said there was “no evidence supporting the claim that ‘lottery funding has traditionally been used to fund projects in areas of the country that lack established arts and culture infrastructure’. The evidence seems to point substantially in the opposite direction.”

The local authority area with the poorest return is County Durham, where lottery players have contributed £34m since 1995 while arts organisations there have received just £12m.

Former director of Northern Arts Peter Stark helped write the PLACE report.

Mr Stark, a chief adviser to Gateshead during its regeneration plans around the Baltic and the Sage, said that while it was clear that Tyneside had benefited from lottery cash, overall there was a need for a fairer funding model.

He said: “There is something fundamentally wrong in the use of lottery funding to prioritise existing organisation, in particular the largest ones when the point of the lottery was that it helps a much wider spread.”

He said that all areas could benefit if, as money taken away for the Olympics returns, there is a new funding model that reflects deprivation, availability of art and distance from London.

“London should have a larger share, but not to this extent,” Mr Stark said. “The Arts Council likes to say that if its fund was increased it could solve this problem, but it can’t just continue with this funding model.

“We are getting to a point where the money being redirected to organisations already receiving pretty substantial funds from the tax payer must lead to a pretty serious look at how we deal with lottery funding and the way in which we fund the arts in this country.”

Last night Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman said there was overwhelming evidence that the region’s were getting a bad deal. The shadow culture minister said: “The Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital report revealed the deeply unfair distribution of funding between London and the regions.

“This second report confirms that many citizens, particularly in the North East, aren’t getting access to what they have already paid for through taxation and Lottery tickets.

“Culture and the arts are a vital source of wellbeing and Labour is committed to achieving fair access for all, regardless of where people live or how wealthy they are.”

Source – Newcastle Journal  25 April 2014

North East arts funding fight goes to Westminster

Arts organisations have hit out at the London bias which is starving cultural bodies outside the South East of funds – and demanded a better deal for the North East.

Theatres, local authorities and actors’ union Equity told MPs that the concentration of resources in London and the south had to stop, not only because it was unfair but because it damaged the economy.

They issued the demand in submissions to a Commons inquiry looking at the work of the Arts Council.

It follows the publication last year of a hard-hitting report backed by senior arts figures including Melvyn Bragg and producer David Puttnam which warned that London receives £563.9m a year in culture funding from the Government and the Arts Council while the rest of the country gets £205.1m.

Latest Arts Council figures showed that arts organisations in the North East received £5.59 per head a year, compared to £21.33 per head in London.

And the study also found that the North East had received £86.22 per head in arts lottery funding since 1995, while Londoners received £165.

The report’s authors included Peter Stark, professor of cultural policy and management at Northumbria University.

Speaking at Westminster, he told the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee: “We have an enormous potential out there and the resources are in the wrong place.”

He added: “There is just something wrong that Westminster is benefiting to the tune that it is while County Durham is benefiting to the extent that it is, and something must be done about it.”

In a written submission to the inquiry, the North East Cultural Partnership, a body backed by 12 local councils and North East Chamber of Commerce, warned that unfair funding “has led to networks of artists and organisations in some parts of England, which, for all their strengths, are smaller and less powerful than we need”.

Funding bodies such as the Arts Council should look for ways to make funding decisions locally instead of in London, it said.

The Touring Partnership Ltd, which represents nine theatres across the country including the Theatre Royal in Newcastle, said: “The gulf between the current per capita investment of the nation’s funds for culture in London … compared to the rest of England … is unacceptable by anybody’s reckoning.

“Even when the funding to those key national institutions is removed from the analysis, the inequity remains extreme and, in the interests of basic democratic fairness, should be redressed.”

Actors’ union Equity highlighted the economic importance of the arts, telling MPs: “An independent Economic Impact Assessment of ten of the North East’s leading cultural organisations showed that £4.06 of GVA is generated within the region for every pound of subsidy received.”

However, it said it would have concerns about simply cutting funding for the south to shift the money north.

But the Association of British Orchestras, which represents Royal Northern Sinfonia at Sage Gateshead among others, warned: “We would respectfully point out that criticisms of the perceived imbalance between Arts Council funding in London and the regions is a distraction from the more critical issue of maintaining local authority investment in arts organisations when this funding is so under threat.”

The inquiry continues and MPs will present their findings later in the year.

Source – Newcastle Journal, 26 March 2014