‘Make it SO’

17 May 2022

In the last in our series profiling the shortlisted candidates for City of Culture 2025, Claire Whitaker says Southampton has been connecting the UK with people across the globe for thousands of years.

‘We rise together’

Children celebrate Wrexham's City of Culture 2025 bid
04 May 2022

In the third of our series profiling the shortlisted candidates for City of Culture 2025, Ian Bancroft reveals Wrexham as “one of the last punk places in the UK”.

‘Our Time, Our Place’

Young people from Bradford send off for the district's official UK City of Culture 2025 bid
19 Apr 2022

In the second in our series profiling the shortlisted candidates for City of Culture 2025, Shanaz Gulzar shares how Bradford's young people shaped a bid that awakened a sleeping giant of a city.

‘The past we inherit, the future we build’

Durham miners' gala
06 Apr 2022

In the first in a series profiling the shortlisted candidates for UK City of Culture 2025, Alison Clark introduces the county whose bid is inspired by the Durham Miners Association.

The real Big Bang

Poet Scarlett Ward leads a poetry workshop in conjunction with About Us and UNBOXED
22 Feb 2022

About Us* is a dazzling free show combining projection mapping, animation, music and poetry. At its heart, says Maggie Aderin-Pocock, is a simple message: we are all connected. 

A guide to random selection

Tombola for random selection
04 Dec 2023

An ancient practice of balloting is being put to use in application processes with the twin aims of reducing unpaid labour and increasing fairness, writes Martin O’Leary.

Hibiscus Rising: The power of public art

Hibiscus Rising sculpture against a blue sky
28 Nov 2023

From public sculptures to powerful performances, new commissions have a unique ability to connect with audiences – which is why Art Fund is keen to support them, explains Robert Dingle.  

Parliament defends 'no expenses' public art commission

National Memorial Arboretum (Alrewas, Staffordshire)
25 Jul 2023

Confirmation that artists submitting proposals for a project worth half a million pounds will not have their costs covered comes amid concerns about a lack of diversity in public art.

Manchester's Factory venue sells naming rights for £35m

21 Jun 2023

The new £210m Factory International venue in Manchester has been renamed Aviva Studios in a naming rights deal worth £35m.

The insurance company Aviva has secured the rights, with the new name also paying homage to the famous Granada Studios which previously stood on the city centre site.

The venue's much heralded original name was a reference to the Manchester record label Factory, home to bands such as New Order, Happy Mondays and A Certain Ratio.

The Factory brand will not be completely lost, as the venue will be still be home to arts content providers Factory International – producers of the Manchester International Festival.

Manchester City Council – a major investor in the venue – will recieve the majority of the £35m, having approved capital budget increases on the understanding that some of this could be recouped through such deals.

Council Leader Bev Craig said: “Manchester people are very pragmatic. They know that in this modern world to pay for things you need money to be able to do that."

Some of the money from the Aviva deal will help fund plans for £10 tickets and skills training programmes at the futuristic OMA-designed venue.

Former NPO strikes funding deal with Arts Council England

The exterior of Live Art Development Agency's premises
30 May 2023

Arts Council England says it is working with the Live Art Development Agency to 'protect its valuable archive for the sector and for future audiences to enjoy'.

Festival of Making pairs artists with manufacturers

24 May 2023

A festival in Lancashire is pairing artists with local manufacturers through its annual residency programme.

The Blackburn-based National Festival of Making, which became an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation in the 2023-26 round, is working with five local manufacturers.

These include suppliers of workwear and jeans, a cardboard box maker, and a company that specialises in garage doors and roller shutters.

Pairings for the Art in Manufacturing programme, now in its fifth year, include Ibukun Baldwin with clothes maker Cookson & Clegg, Stephanie Jefferies and Sarah Marsh with textile manufacturer Herbert Parkinson, and sculptor Steve Anwar with garage door specialists SWS UK.

Programme curator and festival co-director Elena Jackson said: “2023’s commissioned artists have hugely ambitious practices with individual focus on audience experience, access and imagination.

“We can’t wait to see the ideas that have been crafted by artists emerging from these residencies – ideas that will be at the heart of a packed programme of thought-provoking exhibitions, workshops and interventions for our audiences to experience.”

This year’s festival takes place 8-9 July.

Forging new opportunities in creative health

A woman spinning plates
16 May 2023

As part of National Creative Health and Wellbeing Week, Julie McCarthy explores the challenges and opportunities for Greater Manchester in its ambition to become the world’s first creative health city region. 

ACE commits £400k to coronation events

King Charles sitting on grass speaking with two children
04 May 2023

Arts Council England (ACE) contributes six-figure sum to cultural events celebrating the King's coronation.

BBC to explore alternatives to proposed orchestra cuts

The BBC Symphony Orchestra
15 Apr 2023

Broadcaster agrees to explore alternatives to proposed 20% cut to roles at the BBC Symphony, Concert and Philharmonic orchestras.

National Theatre to tell Grenfell Tower survivors' stories

12 Apr 2023

A new verbatim play produced by the National Theatre will tell the stories of Grenfell Tower fire survivors.

Grenfell: In the Words of Survivors is the work of the novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo.

Slovo spent five years talking to members of the community and recording people's accounts of the fire which killed 72 people.

Slovo interviewed 80 people in total but decided to focus on the stories of a small number of survivors and the bereaved.

All those involved were given a guarantee they could read the transcripts of their interviews and had a veto on anything they didn't want included.

The play, which will be performed by professional actors including Ash Hunter, Houda Echouafni and Jackie Clune, will be told in three parts.

It will begin with the lead up to fire on 14 June 2017 before focusing on the night of the tragedy. Finally, a filmed section will talk about the survivors' fight for justice.

Slovo said: “It felt such a responsibility to render their experiences accurately. With verbatim, there is no dialogue – you have to fit together a series of monologues to tell a story.”

Grenfell: In the Words of Survivors will be at the National Theatre, London from 13 July until 26 August.

Southbank's artist residency programme a 'meeting space for ideas'

11 Apr 2023

Southbank Centre in London has launched a new artist development initiative that will support ‘creative innovation and experimentation’.

The first stage of the Studio programme will invite nine artists to undertake individual residencies in its Purcell Room.

Each five-day residency is designed to help the artists develop existing ideas as well as inspire new ones.

The main focus will be on supporting collaborations across artforms to provide ‘a meeting space to create new ideas borne from collaborations between writers, visual artists, designers, choreographers and musicians’.

Mark Ball, Artistic Director at Southbank Centre, said: “The launch of Southbank Centre Studio further underscores our commitment to making the art of the future, to developing bold artistic endeavours and providing artists with the opportunity to explore exciting and surprising new hybrid collaborations.”

Artists selected for the launch programme include Le Gateau Chocolat, voted by Time Out London as one of its Top 10 Cabaret Stars, and audio-visual artist GAIKA, self-described as a “hard-to-place person".

The residency programme begins in May.

Theatre asks people of South Asian heritage to share their stories

11 Apr 2023

A theatre in Staffordshire is asking people of South Asian heritage to share their stories for a chance to see them retold on stage.

The New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme is working with local arts company, Appetite, to create a new play, Punjab to the Potteries.

Playwright Shahid Iqbal Khan and Writer/Director Sarah Bedi will use the real-life stories to create the play's script.

Appetite Director Gemma Thomas said: "We want to hear from, celebrate and capture people's lived experiences of migrating to the Potteries, or being born here and raised in a South Asian family." 

The idea for the project was inspired by local man Val Bansal, who had shared his own family's story of migrating from the Punjab in India.

His father had moved to Stoke-on-Trent in 1964.

Bansal said: "There must be countless stories and memories, as well as many more photos in numerous households of people and families who took a similar journey."

There will be an open storytelling event in Newcastle-under-Lyme on 28 April.

Lewisham, London's Borough of Culture engaged majority of local schools

04 Apr 2023

Lewisham starts work on a cultural strategy following successful stint as London Borough of Culture focused on young people, community and cultural activism.

Eastbourne community arts programme awarded £480,000

03 Apr 2023

A community arts programme in Eastbourne scheduled to coincide with the 2023 Turner Prize has been awarded £480,000 in funding from Arts Council England.

The funding will support Towner Eastbourne, the gallery set to host the Turner Prize later this year, along with a range of local partners, to boost creative and cultural opportunities in the seaside town.

The funding has been allocated from ACE's Place Partnership Fund, backed by the National Lottery, and will facilitate Eastbourne ALIVE, a project aimed primarily at children and young people and those from disadvantaged communities.

Headed by Project Director Sarah Dance, the project aims to create a new legacy for Eastbourne by broadening access to art and culture through creative experiences and activities in and around the town. 

“Our ambition is to place the town’s image firmly in the hands of young people, harnessing their creative energy for years to come,” Dance said.

The project, which is backed by East Sussex County Council, involves community partners including Compass Arts, which will curate a visual arts exhibition in hotels along the seafront, with an open submission programme intended to serve as a platform for vulnerable and disabled artists.

Devonshire Collective will work with local young people and marginalised communities to co-curate a series of commissions, events, talks and films inspired by the Turner Prize in multiple locations.

Towner Eastbourne is also set to deliver an engagement project that will provide exclusive access to the Turner Prize exhibition, artist-led activities and a digital and printed toolkit for Year 9 students in local schools.

The project will also engage East Sussex Public Health to measure the impact of creative projects on young people’s emotional wellbeing and mental health. It includes a partnership with Talent Accelerator to encourage and support young people interested in creative industry careers.

“We know that creative opportunities can have a powerful impact on children and young people’s lives - supporting their confidence, encouraging them to develop and embrace new ideas, and helping them to build connections,” said Hazel Edwards, Area Director, South East at ACE.

“The creative skills development and career pathways embedded in this project will ensure that there is an important legacy to Towner Eastbourne hosting the Turner Prize.”

Unlimited awards £660k for disabled artist commissions

03 Apr 2023

Commissioning body Unlimited has awarded over £660,000 in funding to 19 new artistic commissions in its UK & International Partner Awards 2022/23.

The biannual partner awards are designated for disabled artists, the initiative being part of Unlimited’s remit to dismantle barriers faced by disabled artists.

The commissions are funded by Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland and 13 partner organisations.

The British Council contributed £280,000 towards seven international awards. 

The projects funded include a theatre project exploring disabled LGBTQ+ experience in the Highlands of Scotland, a one-woman dance show inspired by Black hair culture, an immersive forest experience created in Brazil and the UK, and a circus performance devised by artists in the UK and Zimbabwe.

“These commissions represent such an exciting range of talent and ambition. We are proud to celebrate the diverse range of perspectives and experiences encapsulated in these awards,” Unlimited’s Programme Manager Isabella Tulloch Gallego commented.

“We look forward to supporting these artists and companies in creating meaningful and impactful work that engages audiences and pushes boundaries.”


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