Arts Council announces funding of over £211 million for organisations in the North

The North contains some of England’s most exciting and ambitious arts and cultural organisations working to push forward artistic practice, to engage audiences and participants and to collaborate with other organisations nationally and internationally

This richness of the arts and culture in the North is embodied in the National portfolio for the North: we are consolidating this network of key organisations, sustaining their ability to deliver programmes of ambition and quality. The 185 National portfolio organisations and eight Major partner museums in the North, including seven organisations that are joining, provide a dynamic and balanced group which will continue to develop audiences and build participation in culture.

We want to build on the existing world class clusters of arts organisations and activity around some of our major urban centres. This critical mass adds to the life and reputation of these cities, helps to support talent and innovation as well as contributing to the local economy. For example in Liverpool and Manchester, in Leeds and in Gateshead we are increasing investment to organisations that produce and present culture of international quality, which attract audiences, as well as contributing to tourism and economic benefit, such as Manchester International Festival, Liverpool Biennial, Opera North and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts. We are maintaining support to award winning Sheffield Theatres, to Live Theatre and Northern Stage in Newcastle and investing in innovative companies like Wired Aerial in Liverpool, who join the portfolio, Gem Arts in Newcastle and Slung Low in Leeds.

The international profile of the North is further raised by the work of organisations such as Yorkshire Sculpture Park which will use Capital funding to provide a new gallery space dedicated to the work and legacy of Henry Moore, a learning centre and other customer facilities which will all improve the visitor experience.  In partnership with fellow National portfolio organisation The Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield they promote the ‘Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle’ which celebrates 200 artists in four venues across 20 miles,

Our investment in Hull is boosted in the run up to the City of Culture in 2017 with increased funding to J-Night, Hull Truck Theatre and Freedom Festival and the introduction of Hull Museums as a Major partner museum.

One of the North’s distinctive strengths is its festival offer: reaching audiences, enabling artistic experiment and delivering economic benefit. We have increased funding to Lumiere in Durham – the foremost light festival in England which attracted an audience of 175,000 in 2013, enhancing Durham’s attraction as a tourism destination for national and international visitors. Two new festivals join the portfolio – the Juice Festival as a specialist children and family festival and Abandon Normal Devices as a national festival focusing on the use of digital arts. We are increasing our support to the Manchester International Festival for further international co-commissions of new work – in 2013 it attracted audiences of 250,000 and brought in an economic benefit of £38 million to the city. Other nationally significant festivals in the portfolio include Stockton International Riverside Festival, DaDa festival of deaf and disabled arts, Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival and Brass: Durham International Arts Festival.

Outside the major cities we are maintaining the North’s wide network of arts centres and presenting venues such as the rurally based Brewery Arts in Kendal, Junction in Goole and Queen’s Hall Arts Centre in Hexham as well as supporting new urban centres at CAST (Doncaster Performing Arts Venue) and Cornerhouse (HOME opens in spring 2015) where increases will help to deliver the ambitious plans to realise the potential of these venues. And we are giving more support to rurally based Eden Arts and Grizedale Arts in Cumbria, giving Capital funding to the Kirkgate Centre in Cockermouth and continuing to fund the National Rural Touring Forum and other organisations such as Cheshire Rural Touring, Rural Arts North Yorkshire, Tin Arts and Highlights Rural Touring Network.

A notable strength across the North is work for and by children and young people (CYP), particularly in theatre through companies including 20 Stories High, Theatre Hullabaloo, TuttiFrutti and M6 Theatre. Theatre Hullabaloo benefits from our enhanced investment in Darlington and from our latest round of Capital funding which will enable it to create a flagship theatre for children and young people in the town – one of only three in the country. Youth theatre organisations focused on participation and talent development include Action Transport, The Ashton Group and Burnley Youth Theatre (the only purpose built youth theatre venue in the country) as well as the National Student Drama Festival. Two of the new organisations have a CYP focus – Dance United and the Juice Festival.

Our bridge organisations exist to build connections and collaborations between arts organisations and schools, creating more opportunities for children and young people to take part in the arts while they are in education. In the North they are Curious Minds, Cape UK and Tyne & Wear Museums and Archives.

We work to nurture a rounded ecology and encourage concentrations of artists and activity in particular locations and this can be seen in the emergent national dance hub based in Leeds. We have increased our investment to Northern Ballet and maintained funding in Phoenix Dance Theatre, RJC Productions Ltd and Yorkshire Dance and to Balbir Singh Dance Company. Dance United joins the portfolio – we will be supporting its work with young people who don’t engage with culture and often socially or economically excluded. We are also giving more support to Company Chameleon, who joined the portfolio in 2012, due to increased demand for their work.

Elsewhere across the portfolio:

    • We have sustained our funding in combined arts with organisations such as The Bluecoat in Liverpool; new build arts centres CAST in Doncaster and Manchester’s HOME; in digital creative media such as the FutureEverything and the Abandon Normal Devices festival which joins the portfolio. We are offering more support to Homotopia, which produces artistically outstanding work in its festival and is the only LGBTQ organisation in the national portfolio. The ARC in Stockton, Bury Met and Cheshire’s new Culture Centre and Library have all been successful in the latest Capital round



We will be funding eight Major partner museums in 2015/18 including two, Museums Sheffield and Hull Partnership, for the first time. Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, Leeds Museum, the Manchester Partnership, Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives, York Museums Trust and Cumbria Museums Consortium are all maintained in the portfolio.

We are working closely with local authorities that value arts and culture and these strong partnerships enable us to jointly sustain levels of investment in the arts and culture sector. The North’s major cities including Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle/Gateshead are all vital partners in this regard. Elsewhere we have partnered Doncaster MBC with increased support to CAST, to Darlington MBC with support to Theatre Hullabaloo and to County Durham Council for Lumiere.

National portfolio funding is just one of the ways in which we support arts and culture across the country. We also have a number of other funding streams to support a wide range of cultural activities and to help us achieve our mission of Great art and culture for everyone. You can read more here about how we have been achieving these goals over the last 12 months in a number of case studies published here.

A full list of all the national portfolio organisations which will be funded in the North can be on our website here.

Arts Council

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