Nottingham NPO embeds citizens' assembly into leadership structure

Saad Eddine Said, CEO and Artistic Director of New Art Exchange, standing outside the building
04 Apr 2024

New Art Exchange says it is the first cultural institution in the world to integrate a permanent citizen assembly into its leadership structure.

Scottish museums share £400,000 development funding

15 Jan 2024

Museums Galleries Scotland has awarded grants worth £420,000 to nine projects via the Museum Development Fund. 

The projects include North Lanarkshire’s Museums & Collections, which will collaborate with local communities impacted by the legacies of slavery and empire to create more inclusive heritage spaces and develop collections knowledge. 

Meanwhile, Historylinks Museum in Dornoch will launch a People’s Gallery to tell the stories of ordinary people who have contributed to the history and heritage of the town. It will be co-curated by the community and include participation from schools and local clubs.

Elsewhere, Museum nan Eilean will support the international interest in the heritage of the Outer Hebrides and increase the sustainability of the Museum Service through holding an Emigration Conference. 

Lucy Casot, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland said: “We’re delighted to fund nine varied projects from museums across Scotland. 

"These projects represent the work the sector is undertaking in remaining responsive to the needs of their community, better representing stories from people in Scotland and across the world, and contributing to a sustainable tourist experience.”

'Revolutionary' employment scheme for artists launches

The four LABA artists. From left to right: Ed Patrick, Munotida Chinyanga, Viv Gordon, Jamaal O’Driscoll
14 Dec 2023

Gloucester-based National Portfolio Organisation wants to see a 'step-change' in how artists are supported so they can work without pressure.

Jewish Museum London gets funding for community work

13 Dec 2023

The Jewish Museum London has received more than £200,000 to work in the community ahead of a move to a new building.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund will provide £231,000 for the "Jewish Museum London on the Move" project which involves the development of learning and collections programmes around the UK to new and existing audiences after it left its premises in Camden in June this year.

Learning programmes will be adapted for outreach in London schools, along with virtual programming and broadcasts about Jewish festivals. In person schools workshops will begin again in partner venues from spring 2024 and plans are in place to develop the schools offer for 2025. 

Meanwhile, community and heritage partnerships will host family days around London and reminiscence sessions with the museum's collections will take place in Jewish care homes.

Chair of Trustees, Nick Viner said: “The trustees of Jewish Museum London are very grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for this investment which will enable our ongoing transition towards a future museum. 

"We’re delighted that our objects can already be seen around the country, and this support will enable us to expand further our programme of loans and displays, alongside our education work. Jewish Museum London exists to celebrate the UK’s diverse Jewish community and heritage. Now more than ever we need to foster understanding between all cultures.”

The museum, which receives £224,000 a year from Arts Council England as part of the National Portfolio for 2023-26, hopes to reopen in a larger new home within the next five years.

Staying warm this winter

Man working in library
20 Nov 2023

As winter approaches, with energy bills remaining stubbornly high, Libraries Connected Chief Executive Isobel Hunter says the Warm Welcome Campaign is more relevant than ever.

Museum leaves online platform after trans rights 'Twitter storm'

A phone showing social media apps including X (formally Twitter)
15 Nov 2023

As cultural organisations address divisive issues in an increasingly challenging social media landscape, some are choosing to leave certain platforms after experiencing controversy.

AI: Why the arts should choose playfulness over fear 

Jo Burnham surrounded by balloons
01 Nov 2023

The cultural sector is wary of AI. But Jo Burnham thinks a change of mindset can accelerate learning, confidence and innovation with emerging tools.

Consultation on culture strategy for Manchester launches

31 Oct 2023

Manchester City Council is calling on residents and cultural organisations to have their say on a new decade-long plan for culture.  

The local authority has said it is keen to understand what types of creativity residents are interested in. It is seeking "ideas big and small" across everything from art, performance, galleries and museums to more hands-on art and craft opportunities.

The current 10-year strategy runs until 2026. The consultation on the new strategy will be open until 30 November 2023.

Luthfur Rahman, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester has a global reputation for arts and culture, bolstered in no small part by the opening of Aviva Studios recently. 

"We are renowned for our nightlife, music and museums and we want to make sure that culture is an integral part of our communities over the next 10 years.  

“This conversation involves everyone – your ideas could be big, they might be small. But they will all help guide culture in our city."

First venue purchased under community ownership scheme

John Whittingdale MP and Mark Davyd CEO unveiling a plaque for The Snug
04 Oct 2023

An initiative dubbed the 'National Trust of Music Venues’ confirms purchase of the freehold of its first grassroots music venue.

Community is the foundation of culture

Etruria museum
11 Sep 2023

Heritage Open Days returns with thousands of free events and experiences. The National Trust’s Tom Freshwater reflects on why people venture out to participate in these community experiences.

Interest in orchestral concerts at five-year high

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
31 Aug 2023

Researchers find non-traditional programming is attracting newcomers to performances.

Project to explore Shakespeare's 'hidden' women

23 Aug 2023

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) has announced the launch of a three year project exploring the role of women in creating and maintaining the playwright’s legacy over the centuries.

“Prompted by the 400th anniversary of the death of Anne Shakespeare (nee Hathaway) earlier in August, we are embarking on an ambitious, multi-year project that will explore the sometimes hidden, often ignored, erased or forgotten stories of the many women who have influenced, as well as secured Shakespeare’s legacy,” said Professor Charlotte Scott, the trust’s Director of Knowledge and Engagement.

The SBT has committed to ensuring all the activity will be devised and led by women and female-identifying people. 

The project will focus on the lived experiences of the women in Shakespeare’s life, including his mother Mary, his sister Joan, his daughters Susannah and Judith and the extended networks of friends, neighbours and country women who maintained those relations.

The trust, which is responsible for maintaining the family homes, documents and artefacts relating to Shakespeare and Stratford-upon-Avon, will share stories and events for every family and an exhibition at Shakespeare’s New Place in Spring 2024. 

In 2025, the focus of the project will be the female gaze and the female characters who have contributed to Shakespeare’s place in theatrical history, including “lovers and Queens, witches, mothers, murderers, politicians and powerhouses”. 

The final year will centre on the women who made and continue to make Shakespeare famous, from actresses to artists, writers, readers and creatives who have brought his characters to life.

“We are approaching Shakespeare not as a single genius, but as the figurehead of a community and network of people who enabled and secured his place in the canon of western literature,” Scott said.

“He wrote at a time when society was highly patriarchal and socially stratified. However, his own life and much of his career was one which was ruled by women, from the monarch to his homelife.” 

English Heritage to introduce ‘dress up’ for adults

02 Aug 2023

Historical ‘dress up’ costumes aimed at adult visitors are due to be introduced at 11 English Heritage sites this summer.

The move is in response to research commissioned by the charity and conducted by the University of Kent that found adults have more active imaginations than children.

The study “directly refutes the commonly held belief that we become less imaginative as we get older”, the charity said.

Researchers from the university’s School of Psychology asked more than 470 people aged between four and 81 to imagine how unfamiliar historical objects could have been used. 

The answers were assessed based on characteristics including the number of unique responses and how close the guesses were to the object’s actual function.

As age increased, people were more likely to imagine uses that were closer to the actual function of the objects, but they were also more likely to give original answers and to provide more detail.

Meanwhile, adolescents and young adults came up with a larger number of suggestions spanning a wider range of categories than other age groups, suggesting that different age groups have different imaginative strengths, researchers said.

The research “shows that our imaginations continue to grow and change, even throughout adulthood, with the over 60s actually showing the most originality,” said Dr Angela Nyhout, Assistant Professor at the University of Kent’s School of Psychology, who led the research team.

“Adults’ imaginations can be just as vivid as children’s, but what they already know about the world constrains their imagination in some cases and enhances it in others. We just need the freedom of the right environment and opportunity to explore the limits of our imagination, and historical places are a perfect place to do this.”

English Heritage has used these findings to inform its One Extraordinary Summer events programme, for which it will introduce both hands-on history sessions and historical adult dress-up opportunities, with costumes including Roman togas, Medieval chainmail, Victorian suits and Tudor gowns, as well as WWII uniforms. 

At Whitby Abbey in Yorkshire, which inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, adult visitors will be invited to don vampire capes and accessories.

The 11 sites offering the costume will be Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire, Boscobel in Shropshire, Corbridge Roman Town in Northumberland, Dover Castle in Kent, Eltham Palace in London, Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, Osborne on the Isle of Wight, Pendennis Castle in Cornwall, Witley Court in Worcestershire, Whitby Abbey in Yorkshire and Wrest Park in Bedfordshire.

Central School and New Earth Theatre announce associateship

25 Jul 2023

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and New Earth Theatre have announced an associateship that will see the organisations work together to promote equity, diversity and inclusion.

The formalised associateship will solidify the close working relationship between the two organisations, which has previously seen delivery of the New Earth Performer’s Academy and Academy Plus London. 

Together, they aim to inspire and expand the platforms available for East and South East Asian (ESEA) theatre artists, actors, writing, directors, makers and practitioners.

Current plans include the development of events focused on the work of ESEA artists, the exploration of research and fellowship opportunities, and the delivery of masterclasses, workshops, guest lectures and other teaching opportunities for ESEA artists.

“This associateship marks a key moment for the company as we seek to reimagine how theatre companies can continue to grow and thrive in these relentlessly challenging times,” said Kumiko Mendl, Artistic Director of New Earth Theatre.

“By working together with a world class drama school we can begin to create new pathways of learning and sharing, of knowledge exchange that will in turn inform the work of our company and of ESEA artists. 

“The opportunities that this associateship presents are rich and varied and I look forward to embracing them in our shared goal of supporting and empowering ESEA artists and practitioners of the future.”   

Spotlight on new NPOs: Back to Ours

'Back to Ours' company photo. A diverse range of people photographed from the inside of a bus. There are people sat down and stood up. Some are performing, others are smiling and gasping.
28 Jun 2023

In our series of articles spotlighting new National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), Christina Lewis explains how Hull-based Back to Ours works with local communities to engage new audiences in the arts.

Bradford 2025 plans 'iconic' travelling performance space

13 Jun 2023

A temporary arts space named Beacon will form part of Bradford City of Culture 2025 plans, it has emerged.

Organisers are looking for architects to design a performance space made from sustainable materials, that can be dismantled and easily transported and re-installed at a number of sites. The project has a budget of around £500,000.

"The intention behind Beacon is for it to have sustainability at its heart, to celebrate Bradford’s cultural heritage and to reflect its diverse, cosmopolitan communities," competition documents issued by the Royal Institute of British Architects on behalf of Bradford 2025 state. 

"The venue will facilitate and promote meaningful interchange between communities."

While specific locations for Beacon have not been finalised yet, organisers are looking at parks in the heart of communities, where residential areas butt up against perimeter of the green space.

Shanaz Gulzar, Creative Director of Bradford 2025, said: "It’s crucial that our year as City of Culture reaches every corner of Bradford district and Beacon will be just one of the ways we do that. 

"This new peripatetic venue will be an incredible space for people to get together, to show off the creativity of our district as well as taking spectacular events and performances to a wider Bradford audience."

Building trust in policing

On duty police engaging with a public art event
07 Jun 2023

Police collaboration in arts and culture projects improves their engagement with communities, building trust and confidence, as Jacqueline Hodgson and Rachel Lewis argue in their new report.

London art school to become Tate Modern's neighbour

06 Jun 2023

An independent art school is relocating to a new building adjacent to Tate Modern as part of plans to increase access to art education.

The Art Academy London has announced that it will be moving from its current home on Borough High Street to the new Triptych Bankside building in Southwark.

The new site designed by Squire and Partners architects will provide 13,940 square feet across two levels.

It will include nine studios, two galleries, an auditorium, and workshop spaces for local artists and communities.

There will also be a cafe and art supplies shop that will be open to the public.

Art Academy principal Rob Pepper said: "This move will enable us to create many more free places for local children on our Young Artists courses, to scale our support for art teachers nationwide through free professional development courses and to extend our open-access tuition to local charities working with disabled artists.

“On top of all this, we will be able to provide subsidised exhibition spaces and low-cost studios for artists in Zone 1.”

Dr Frances Morris, outgoing director of Tate Modern, added: "What Rob and the team have done with the Art Academy is to take the art school model, which has in many ways become tired and conventional, and create something with enormous potential for lifelong learning that is open and inclusive."

Spotlight on new NPOs: Family Arts Campaign

Children in a library throwing newspapers into the air
05 Jun 2023

Connection, communities and collaboration are essential ingredients for working with families, writes Anna Dever, Director of a new Investment Principles Support Organisation within ACE’s National Portfolio.

What are patrons for?

Contact Manchester
31 May 2023

Many arts organisations list patrons on their website but do we really understand their role? Megan Bennett shares her work building a patron portfolio at Contact.


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