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
Arts and cultural bodies across the North East could receive a fairer share of funding in future years, the people responsible for distributing cash have pledged.
Leaders of Arts Council England, which shares out lottery cash for the arts as well as funding directly from the Treasury, said they accepted there was an “imbalance” with London getting the lion’s share while the rest of the country loses out.
But they insisted the situation was improving, with more money going to regions outside London in recent years – and pledged that the trend would continue.
However, giving evidence to a Commons inquiry, the Arts Council also insisted that London organisations had to receive enough money to allow the city to maintain its position as the world’s cultural capital.
And MPs were also told by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey that the arts are “generously funded outside London”.
The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee is holding an inquiry into the work of the Arts Council.
That was in part prompted by a hard-hitting report called Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital which warned that London receives £563.9m a year in culture funding from the Government and the Arts Council – or £68.98 per person – while the rest of the country gets £205.1m or just £4.57 per person.
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 inquiry previously heard evidence from leaders of the North East Culture Partnership, who warned that cash-strapped arts organisations in the North East are spending time filling in grant applications instead of actually taking part in arts and cultural activities.
Speaking to the committee, Arts Council chair Sir Peter Bazalgette said: “You are quite right point to an imbalance.”
He said it should not be surprising that London received the most funding, but added: “We are addressing years of imbalance but we are addressing it carefully.”
London used to get 51% of funding while the rest of the country got 49% – but this had changed so that London now received 49%, he said.
“That trend should continue this summer.
“Those are very important parts of the work we are doing.”
One committee member, Yorkshire MP Philip Davies, accused the Arts Council of indulging “London luvvies” by spending £347.4m on opera over five years and just £1.8m on brass bands.
> Oh lord, another regional sterotype – brass bands, whippits and flat caps !
Arts Council chief executive Alan Davey told him: “I do want us to increase the amount of money we are giving to brass bands because I think it’s a wonderful pastime”.
But Mr Vaizey played down suggestions of a funding gap, saying: “I think it is nuanced. I don’t want a headline saying it is unbalanced because as I say it is a more subtle picture.
“A lot of the organisations with London postcodes have national profiles and do national work.
“The picture is by no means as bleak as some people would wish to paint it. A great deal of funding has gone to arts organisations outside London and a lot of funding that is supposedly ‘London funding’ is in fact national funding.”
Mr Vaizey praised Gateshead Council for backing the Sage Gateshead concert venue and musical education centre as well as the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, and said he wanted other councils to follow suit.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 14 June 2014
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
Art venues could have their £1.2m budget slashed as Gateshead Council sets in motion plans to make multi-million pound budget savings.
Giving up the running of leisure centres, making residents pay for garden waste disposal and a review of the council’s remaining 12 libraries are other suggestions put forward in a consultation document released by the authority today.
Councillors need to save £45m from the budget over the next two years and are asking residents to comment on a range of ideas for where savings could be made.
Leader of the council Mick Henry said: “There’s never been such a financial challenge since 1974 when this council formed.
“What we need to do now is share this problem with workers and businesses in Gateshead so we can all work out how to mitigate the unbearable impact of this coalition Government.”
In the document Budget 2014/2016 Your Views Count’ residents are asked whether the £1.2m spent on funding the Sage Gateshead, BALTIC and Shipley Art Gallery should be reduced.
The borough’s 12 leisure centres, which cost £3.1m a year to run, are also identified as an area in which possible savings could be made with people asked if they agree or disagree with facilities being reduced.
Withdrawing support to youth services and reducing funding to teenage parents is also offered as a budget solution.
Coun Henry said at this stage the docunent puts forward a series of choices and not concrete proposals or decisions.
The savings come on top of £75m budget cuts made by the authority since 2010 and last week the council annouced a further 400 job losses.
David Newton from the GMB union, said: “We realise that things get harder every year but we want to look at alternatives because this isn’t the Gateshead way to cut essential services like this. Out-sourcing for children and families could be done in house. We need to look at this again.
“We understand that this Government has given up on the people of this county by these proposals but we don’t want to see Gateshead giving up on its young people.”
Council tax may also rise for the first time in three years as residents are consulted on whether they should take a one per cent grant in exchange for freezing rates.
However Councilor Henry said he wanted to get across to people the impact this would have on civic funds.
He said: “It means that you don’t grow your budget and that your base budget stays the same.
“As more cuts occur there’s a real argument about whether you accept that freeze or increase council tax. We want to ask people what they think.
“We have done it in the past because at that time we thought it was one hit too much for the people of Gateshead.”
He also added that this current round of cuts strengthens yet again the case for a combined local authority to lobby central Government on behalf of the North East.
Between now and 17 December, people can give their views on the choices for saving money by filling in a survey at www.gateshead.gov.uk/budget . Copies are also available at most council buildings or on request by calling 0191 433 3000, The council will agree the budget for 2014/16 in February.
Newcastle Journal, 16 Oct 2013