ACE National Portfolio 2023-26: Transition Programme explained

04 Oct 2022

With the date Arts Council England announces funding decisions for the next National Portfolio confirmed as Wednesday 26 October, Arts Professional examines the options for organisations that miss out.

Coventry City of Culture seeks £1m due to 'cashflow issues'

03 Oct 2022

Coventry Council is set to loan £1m to the Trust behind the City of Culture bid so that legacy projects can go ahead. 

Coventry City of Culture Trust (CCCT) has asked the council for the money saying it is facing some short-term cashflow issues, the Coventry Telegraph reports. 

Although Coventry's stint as City of Culture ended in May, the Trust wants to invest more than £5m in creative and cultural programmes in the city until March 2024, but has had to review its budget due to short-term cashflow concerns.

Council officers are recommending the council lends the money on a commercial basis, meaning that it will be repaid in full with interest, so that legacy projects aren't cut short and to avoid damage to the Trust's reputation.

Chinese Arts Now unveils rebrand

30 Sep 2022

An arts organisation dedicated to providing a platform for East and Southeast Asian artists has announced a new name and logo.

Chinese Arts Now is now Kakilang, which means "one of us" in the Chinese dialect of Hokkien.

Kakilang has said it will stage three live productions next year, including a project in partnership with the Barbican in London, with further details to be announced shortly. 

An-Ting Chang, Artistic Director at Kakilang, said: "Our organisation today is a combination of many cultures and identities and the best thing is: this word broadens the people we want to include. 

"Who is our Kakilang? That was the key question when we came up with this name. Our Kakilang is those who come together through art, and who champion diverse voices and communities. 

"There are so many stories we want to tell from our communities. And we want more people to be our Kakilang, joining us through all forms of live arts.” 

Portrait of Queen to be auctioned for charity

20 Sep 2022

Dreweatts has announced a charity auction this November to raise funds for the Queen’s Mother’s Clothing Guild, a royal charity.

One of the most anticipated lots is Pearly Queen of St. James’s Palace, a large-scale portrait of Queen Elizabeth II as she appeared on the first-class postage stamp.

The work, by contemporary artist Ann Carrington, features thousands of pearl buttons hand-sewn onto a black canvas and is expected to sell for between £10,000 and £25,000.

Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy, the guild’s patron since 2003, said the proceeds of the auction “will contribute significantly to the vital work of the charity to provide more new clothing and bedding to those in need across the UK”.

Carrington created the work for the 140th anniversary of the guild. “Each button represents the volunteer sewers and knitters whose hand-made contributions since 1882 have enabled the charity to grow and flourish,” she said.

The work is part of a series of 23 portraits of the Queen created by Carrington, the only fine artist who holds a license from Royal Mail to produce artworks in postage-stamp form.

One of the 23 works was commissioned by the Queen herself, who requested that it be executed in red and gold.

Health & wellbeing fund for Welsh arts organisations reopens

13 Sep 2022

Arts organisations in Wales working on projects that deliver health and wellbeing benefits are invited to apply for grants of between £500 and £50,000.

The Arts Council of Wales’ Arts, Health and Wellbeing National Lottery funding programme supports high-quality creative projects focused on mental health, health inequalities, physical health and wellbeing and staff wellbeing.

The latest round of funding is open to partnership applications from arts organisations working with health organisations to deliver joint projects. 

Applications should represent a consortium of organisations and artists, one of which will act as the primary applicant and accountable body, the organisation has said.

The deadline to apply is 5 October.

£114k fund to promote creativity in Wakefield

13 Sep 2022

Funding totalling £114,051 is being awarded as part of an ongoing grant scheme to support local culture and creativity in Wakefield.

The grant scheme, run by Wakefield Council, is designed to support art, culture and creativity to flourish in the run-up to its Year of Culture in 2024. 

Each artist or organisation will be awarded between £1,000 and £15,000 to work with local communities.

The council has announced details of 16 of the projects to have received funding so far. They include creative activities themed around mental health and tailored to people at risk of homelessness, visually impaired people and pregnant women.

“This investment will enable diverse and high-quality creative projects right across our district,” said Michael Graham, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport.

Applications for Made in Wakefield grants remain open until October 17.

Arts Council NI awards £53k to nine projects

12 Sep 2022

A total of £53,000 has been awarded to nine arts projects as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Small Grants funding programme. 

The money will be used to support projects in Armagh, Bangor, Craigavon, Downpatrick and the Fermanagh area.

The Small Grants Programme offers up to £10,000 per applicant to support organisations in Northern Ireland running creative community-based projects, as part of an effort to increase engagement with the arts.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said the grants would support nine “fantastic” projects, “creating more opportunities for people to engage with the arts, from grassroots level projects through to professional productions”.

The nine organisations being funded are Armagh Pipers Club, Banbridge Music Society, Shore Collective, Music in Fermanagh, Mid-Armagh Community Network, North Down Community Network, Patrician Youth Centre and Harmony Community Trust.

Worcester consults on arts and culture strategy

06 Sep 2022

People in Worcester have been invited to give their views on a five-year arts and culture strategy.

A draft strategy put together by Worcester City Council sets out plans to secure and invest funding for the sector and work in partnership with local organisations. The authority is seeking feedback to ensure the blueprint represents the area's "wide variety" of activities.

The council hopes to increase Worcester’s influence within the wider region as a "dynamic, innovative, and distinctive place" and "encourage and empower the sector to deliver ambitious creative projects in and around the city".

It also wants to develop and nurture creative networks in the city and wider region, "bringing together partners to facilitate ideas and developing a community of engaged and active collaborators".

The online consultation closes at 5pm on 30 September.

Manchester cultural grants programme opens

06 Sep 2022

Arts and culture organisations in Manchester will be able to apply for up to £40,000 a year as part of the latest round of the city council's Cultural Partnership grants programme.

A total of just under £1m is available over a three-year period starting in April 2023 for charitable and not-for-profit organisations with a track record of delivering arts and cultural activity for people who live in or visit the city. 

The fund is designed for organisations that work in artforms such as combined arts, dance, museum, film and broadcast, heritage, literature, visual arts, digital art, music, photography, theatre and performance, and craft.

The council has said it wants to fund organisations that are "inclusive, representative of resident communities and which contribute to Manchester’s zero-carbon ambitions". In the last round, 15 of the city’s small and medium sized arts and cultural charitable organisations were supported.

Luthfur Rahman, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester is world famous for its cultural scene and we have a long tradition in supporting artists and cultural organisations in the city. We want to continue this legacy and ensure all residents can benefit from inclusive and vibrant cultural opportunities."

Applications for the programme are open until 9am on Friday 7 October 2022. 

Echoes of our industrial past

Image of Public Art Installation, See Monster
31 Aug 2022

A decommissioned North Sea offshore platform has been transformed into the gargantuan art installation SEE MONSTER at Weston-super-Mare’s iconic lido. Niccy Hallifax shares its inspiration. 

DCMS to promote UK artists abroad

30 Aug 2022

The Government Art Collection (GAC) is launching a five-year project to acquire works by contemporary British visual artists for display at UK government outposts around the world.

The DCMS project, called X-UK, will result in works being on show in more than 125 countries in embassies and other government buildings. It aims to showcase “the best of British creativity” and promote interest in the creative sector.

GAC will collaborate with the Contemporary Visual Arts Network in England, the Scottish Contemporary Art Network and networks in Wales and Northern Ireland to select emerging artists.

During a pilot scheme during 2020-2021, GAC made an initial selection of over 90 pieces by 45 artists, which are currently on display in government buildings in the UK and overseas.

Artists whose work was acquired during the pilot have since achieved new career highlights. Glasgow-based artist Alberta Whittle went on to represent Scotland at the 59th Biennale di Venezia in 2022 and currently has pieces on display in the National Galleries of Scotland.  

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said that X-UK “aims to be a true reflection of every part of the United Kingdom”. 

Shailesh Vara, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said the project “will undoubtedly serve as a fantastic springboard for new and emerging artists from Northern Ireland to display their talent on the world stage”. 

Exhibition will recreate destroyed Ukrainian mosaics 

24 Aug 2022

A new digital exhibition will display Ukrainian mosaics, some of which were destroyed during the ongoing war, at this year’s Greenwich+Docklands International Festival in London.

Part of the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture by the British Council and the Ukrainian Institute, images of the mosaics will be projected onto the walls of the Old Royal Naval College.

Brightly coloured, hyper-intricate digital projections of the mosaics will be accompanied by striking sounds, to draw attention to both Ukraine’s cultural legacy and losses.

Yevgen Nikiforov, curator of the exhibition, said: "Three years ago, we collected dozens of the most interesting mosaics for an animated projection to take a new look at the monumental art of Ukraine in the 20th century.

“Now, these unique objects are under threat, like the entire Ukrainian heritage. Through the display of these works in London, we will inscribe this layer of Ukrainian culture, still not sufficiently studied, in the history of world art.”

Theatres receive funding to 'unlock their heritage'

23 Aug 2022

Two theatres in Bradford have received more than £180,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to help them explore their history.

St George’s Hall, which opened in 1853, has hosted big names including Charles Dickens, Harry Houdini and David Bowie.

The Alhambra Theatre, built in 1913 and home to Bradford’s annual pantomime, has hosted acts such as Laurel and Hardy and Morecambe & Wise.

Yorkshire Live reports that the money will fund a a three-year project, starting this month, to develop and deliver “an extensive heritage activity programme”. The programme will look at, among other things, the lengthy history of pantomime at the Alhambra.

The cash comes from the Lottery’s Heritage Centre Stage activity programme. The Lottery says the funding will “unlock the heritage associated with Bradford’s historic city centre venues and engage with a range of people in the district”.

Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places said: “Culminating in 2025 when Bradford will be UK City of Culture, we are thrilled to receive this award from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for our project; Heritage Centre Stage which will support a range of people from across the Bradford district to engage with the heritage in our fantastic, historic venues, in a way which has real meaning to their lives.”

Consultants recruited for Somerset culture strategy

22 Aug 2022

Specialist consultants have been lined up to help develop a five-year cultural strategy for a new unitary council being established in Somerset next year.

Somerset’s five councils – Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, South Somerset district councils, and Somerset County Council – have worked in partnership with Arts Council England to recruit cultural consultants, The Fifth Sector.

Since its foundation in 2011, The Fifth Sector has delivered more than 100 strategic and cultural projects, including cultural strategies and creative investment frameworks for Derby, Liverpool, Manchester, Rushmoor, South Yorkshire and Tees Valley.

Key aims and objectives of the strategy include ensuring that a cultural identity for arts and culture in Somerset is at the heart of the new authority’s strategic plans.

It is also intended that the piece of work will raise awareness and promote the role that culture and creativity can play in enriching communities and improving the quality of life, health, wellbeing and the local economy for Somerset residents.

Federica Smith Roberts, Somerset County Council’s Lead Member for Communities, said: “The Somerset Cultural Strategy will define how, as an organisation, the new Somerset Council will deliver cultural activities to better the lives of residents and enhance our communities.

“I am delighted that work will commence through The Fifth Sector now to create a strategy ready for adoption when the new Council comes into effect in April 2023. 

"Arts and culture are important to help improve the quality of life, health, wellbeing and the local economy for Somerset residents, local businesses and visitors and I look forward to bringing the strategy in front of fellow councillors in 2023.”

Croydon criticised for insensitive name of arts fund

09 Aug 2022

Croydon Council and Executive Mayor of Croydon Jason Perry have come in for criticism for the name of their new Ignite Fund announced on the weekend marking the 11th anniversary of the Croydon Riots.

The first stage of the Ignite Fund, part of the London Borough of Culture 2023, will provide grants of between £25,000 and £50,000 to ten individual artists and cultural organisations.

A further round of applications later in the year will fund 100 smaller projects for up to £1,000 each and 15 medium projects  up to £10,000 each.

But the name of the fund, which was not discussed with the local community according to a report from Inside Croydon, has sparked controversy.

Bushra Ahmed, whose family business and home were both torched by arsonists during the riots in August 2022, told the publication that the new fund’s name was “both misguided and insensitive”.

During the riots, police cars were fire-bombed, shops were looted and dozens of homes and businesses were destroyed by arson.

The council has not responsed to the criticisms about the name of the fund.

“Croydon’s year as London Borough of Culture is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our culture and our communities and to kickstart our regeneration and restore pride,” said Perry.

“Croydon’s programme is truly community-led, with local residents, artists and cultural groups at the heart of all our plans, and we also want them to be the first to benefit from every opportunity that it brings.”

Government mental health strategy 'needs to include arts'

Young person cuts out hearts and sticks to card
03 Aug 2022

Calls for mental health benefits of arts and creativity to be recognised by government and form part of forthcoming 10-year plan.

'Recontextualised' portrait of slave owner back on display

02 Aug 2022

A portrait of slave owner Sir Thomas Picton has gone back on display at the National Museum of Cardiff alongside newly commissioned artworks and information that “reframes” his place in history.

The portrait is one of 209 memorials to people with links to slavery identified in Wales after a 2020 audit. It was removed last November.

The new exhibit, which sees the portrait displayed in a large wooden box with one side missing, was organised after consultation with the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel (SSAP), which was invited to decide the future of the artwork.

The panel deemed that the work should be displayed alongside information about Picton’s actions as a slave owner in Trinidad, which included the torture of Luisa Calderon, a 14-year-old-girl, the torture of a second slave named Thisbe and the murder and posthumous dismemberment of a slave named Present.

The museum commissioned Trinidadian artists Gesiye and Miguela Gonzalez to create new artworks that reframe Picton’s legacy and give a voice to his victims.

Gesiye, who is from Trinidad and Tobago and has Nigerian heritage, created a short film and eight photographic portraits of Trinidadians baring tattoos. She found people willing to be tattoed for the project by advertising in newspapers and putting up flyers on the streets on Bristol.

“I'm using tattooing to kind of bring people together to share this connected story, but also to create a space where we feel safe to have these conversations about things that are usually quite painful and that we might otherwise avoid talking about,” she told the BBC.

Gonzalez created a large installation inspired by the Ol’ Mas traditions of the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. It is an ancestral work that honours African traditions. 

“This is not a response to Picton himself, this is our understanding of our history and this is us filling in the gaps of a story,” she told the BBC.

The museum’s curator Dr Kath Davies said that “there are no neat narratives”. 

“I think what you'll see here today is an exhibition which tries to cover all the aspects of Picton's life and Picton's activity, and I think it'll be up to the audience to make their minds up,” she told the BBC.

Commonwealth Games commits to fair pay for creatives

28 Jul 2022

A Memorandum of Understanding between cultural sector unions and the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee sets out a commitment to fair pay and diversity.

McKellen reopens funding programme for producers

26 Jul 2022

Actor Ian McKellen has announced a second round of his funding programme designed to help theatre producers pay actors a living wage.

The scheme was set up to support theatre producers staging new plays and revivals that feature casts including recently graduated actors. 

Grants of up to £25,000 are available to cover actors’ fees in rehearsal or performance in situations where the work would not be possible without the funding. The first round of grants were awarded to six productions, which received varying amounts. 

“Starting out in the professional theatre, ambition and good intentions are rarely enough. Even the most successful production, in a small theatre, cannot hope to raise sufficient funds to cover costs,” McKellen said.

“Too many emerging producers and newly trained actors live on the breadline, discouraged as well as hungry. Hence this scheme to support work that would otherwise be done on the cheap or not done at all. Our grants provide the dignity of work for a living wage.”

The deadline to submit an application for the fund is August 31.

PRS offers grants for performance of contemporary orchestral works

25 Jul 2022

PRS Foundation has announced the re-opening of its Resonate initiative, inviting UK orchestras to programme and perform the best British orchestral works of the last 25 years.

The initiative is a partnership between PRS Foundation, the Association of British Orchestras and broadcast partner BBC Radio 3.

Grants of up to £10,000 are on offer to orchestras that want to rehearse, programme, tour or promote a piece of music from the Resonate database, which includes works commissioned by UK orchestras in the past 25 years.

“Having repeat performances of new orchestral works is an important part of creating and establishing the classics of the future,” said Joe Frankland, CEO of PRS Foundation. 

“Orchestras can apply to programme, perform and promote fantastic contemporary orchestral pieces - many of which have not received the exposure they deserve.”

Mark Pemberton, Chief Executive at the Association of British Orchestras, said that the Resonate initiative has “helped forge a step-change in our members’ commitment to performing previously commissioned works. It has also helped the many composers whose works have been heard once again by the public”.

Support will be given to “orchestras who can demonstrate a commitment to presenting high quality contemporary UK repertoire which they will promote with the Resonate brand as part of a season, tour and longer-term audience development programme”.

The deadline to submit an application is October 3. 


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