Key Theatre saved by Selladoor

19 Jan 2022

Peterborough's Key Theatre has been saved by Selladoor, which operates the local New Theatre.

The venue closed earlier this week despite attempts by campaigners and the local council to keep it open.

It was Peterborough's only subsidised theatre and a home to Mask Theatre and the Kindred drama group.

The city said Key Theatre was forecast to lose £300,000 per year and that it will "look for different, more cost effective ways to deliver services".

Efforts to find a commercial operator came to fruition on Thursday (January 20), thought the deal is still subejct to final negotiations.

A council spokesperson said aspirations outlined in a new cultural strategy remain.

"We are fully committed to maintaining and improving the city’s cultural offer, however our budget position may challenge this work.  

"We will face some difficult decisions going forwards and we have to be realistic in our ambitions until we are operating in a financially stable way."

Dorset offers capital grants for arts and culture

18 Jan 2022

Dorset Council is offering up to £25,000 for cultural redevelopment projects benefitting the local community.

The Capital Leverage Fund aims to "support community and cultural organisations to deliver capital projects which provide new and improved facilities for our communities and residents".

It specifies that arts organisations, museums and public artworks are eligible for funding.

Projects must contribute to one of four priorities in Dorset's Cultural Strategy: community, environment, economy and a cultural county.

The fund is open to not-fot-profit organisations with an annual turnover of less than £1m.

Progress in campaign to save Thurrock theatre

17 Jan 2022

Community groups may soon be able to take over a theatre at risk of closure.

Thurrock Council has changed its position on selling the Thameside Complex, which contains a library, museum and Thameside Theatre.

It now says handing the theatre over to campaigners is the best option.

Sam Byrne of the Save Your Thameside Campaign said "we have a long way to go".

"We are pleased that the people of Thurrock's voices have been heard. However, this is not a done deal by any means.

"If the community were able to take the Thameside Complex on, the financial support from the council for this transformational project would have to be right to ensure its success."

Bid to stop Dudley Hippodrome demolition fails

12 Jan 2022

A bid for an injunction to prevent Dudley Hippodrome's demolition has failed.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove decided against intervening in Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council's £25m plan to redevelop it into a campus for health education.

The Theatres Trust says it is appealing to Historic England to save the 1930s variety theatre, which once hosted the likes of Bing Croshy and Laurel Hardy.

"This is a wasted opportunity to provide the type of live performance space that Dudley is lacking, which could be a catalyst for growth in the town."

But Councillor Simon Phipps said demolishing the mothballed venue was the next step towards creating jobs and boosting the local economy.

"This has been a long, drawn-out process but we owe it to the people of Dudley and students of the future to get this done."

Council restores grant to arts funding body

11 Jan 2022

Worcester City Council has restored direct funding for the arts following a campaign by the Worcester Arts Council.

The local authority gave a £3,000 annual grant to the council until 2018, when it decided instead to run a community grants scheme in house.

It has now returned to funding Worcester Arts Council with the support of city council Chief Executive David Blake and council leader Marc Bayliss.

Worcester Arts Council estimates 5,000 people benefitted from its small grants programme in the year preceding the pandemic.

“I am delighted that Worcester Arts Council can once again support local arts organisations," Chairman George Squires said.

City to lose its only subsidised theatre

11 Jan 2022

Peterborough has received more than £1m in Culture Recovery Fund grants but says it "cannot operate services that generate a financial deficit and expect our communities to accept it".

Brighton dance studio sets July opening

11 Jan 2022

Brighton & Hove's first purpose-built dance studio is set to open in July.

Construction of The Dance Space began nearly five years ago, following a 10-year fundraising campaign and financial support from Brighton & Hove City Council and the National Lottery.

The completed studio features two accessible ground-floor dance studios and a first-floor creation and performance space, as well as rooms and offices spaces for hire.

Artistic Director Cath James says the space will allow professional artists to work alongside dancers of all ages and abilities.

"The launch will mark a significant moment for Brighton & Hove, providing an important new cultural asset for the whole community to experience the joy and wellbeing that dance can offer every body."

Colston statue topplers cleared in court

06 Jan 2022

Four Black Lives Matter protesters who toppled the Edward Colston statue in Bristol have been cleared of all charges.

Jake Skuse 33, Rhian Graham, 30, Milo Ponsford, 26, and Sage Willoughby, 22, admitted to pulling down the statue, but denied causing criminal damage, arguing the statue itself was so offensive it could be considered a hate crime.

A jury found the Colston Four not guilty, 11 to one.

While the prosecution argued the nature of the statue was irrelevant, the defence said otherwise.

"Colston’s deeds may be historical but the continued veneration of him... in a vibrant multicultural city was an act of abuse," defence lawyer Liam Walker said.

Essex opens £1m arts fund

05 Jan 2022

Essex County Council has opened a £1m arts and culture fund for applications.

Artists and arts organisations can apply for between £2,500 and £30,000, with decisions expected late March.

Applicants should explain how they contribute to Everyone's Essex, the four-year plan for the area's creative sector.

The council says Essex's creative sector was the third largest in the UK pre-pandemic, contributing an estimated £2.6bn.


Preston seeks £585k for gallery upgrade

05 Jan 2022

£585,000 is being sought to upgrade The Harris in Preston.

Preston City Council plans to ask Arts Council England to part fund Harris Your Place, its £10m refurbishment programme. £4.5m has already been recieved from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The museum, art gallery and library needs new lighting, signage, heating and ventilation, the council says.

Works would allow the building to host larger exhibitions and loans from major institutions.


Heritage key to historic town growth, report finds

15 Dec 2021

Heritage-led regeneration is key for growth in Britain’s historic town centres, according to planning consultants Lichfields.

The company's Historic Opportunities report says heritage assests must be repurposed in “ambitious and creative” ways, citing environmental, economic and social benefits.

Analysis of Towns Fund, Future High Streets Fund and Levelling Up Fund applications revealed heritage regeneration to be one of six funding themes. 90% of Towns Fund bids intend to use at least part of their grant for heritage-led regeneration.

The report’s lead author James Fryatt says future projects should focus on reusing assets, with the average vacancy rate of historic high streets and towns at about 14%.

“This will see historic buildings increasingly adapted to reflect changes in retail and growing demand for leisure activities and creative and flexible workspaces."

Lichfield Heritage Director Nick Bridgland added: “Our report points to a successful future for those historic towns that take advantage of the available funding and adopt a fresh approach to heritage-led regeneration work."

New management at Barnfield Theatre

15 Dec 2021

Exeter Northcott Theatre will take over management of the city’s Barnfield Theatre in January.

The acquisition means Exeter Northcott will operate across both its existing University of Exeter campus theatre and Barnfield’s 1890s city centre building.

Live events at both theatres are planned in the new year, with a focus on community engagement and nurturing local talent, as the venues hope to double their 33,000 annual users by 2026.

Exeter Northcott Chief Executive and Artistic Director Daniel Buckroyd called Barnfield Theatre “one of Exeter’s hidden gems”.

“We’ve been working with the Barnfield team to imagine what the next 50 years might look like. I’m thrilled that the Northcott can help secure a brighter, busier future.”

Yvonne Arnaud Theatre faces life-threatening funding cut

14 Dec 2021

Yvonne Arnaud Theatre faces a funding cut it says could damage itself, its council and its community.

Guildford Borough Council is considering cutting funding to the theatre in phases until 2024, or charging rent for its Old Mill Studio site.

Director and Chief Executive Joanna Read said she appreciated the pressure on council finances but that the theatre is in "an equally critical place".

"We believe that cutting the grant to the Arnaud too quickly or too deeply will damage Guildford and, in the medium and long-term, the revenues of the council".

A recent economic impact study by the University of Surrey found the theatre contributes at least £1.5m to the local economy.

87% of theatre visitors would not have come into town otherwise, the study found.

Essex launches £1m arts and culture fund

13 Dec 2021

Artists and arts organisations in Essex will soon be able to apply for up to £30,000 from a £1m fund.

Essex County Council will open the fund for applications from January 4, announcing grantees at the end of March.

Grants of at least £2,500 are available to individuals, community groups, charities and public and private organisations.

The council says Essex's creative sector was the third largest in the UK pre-pandemic, contributing an estimated £2.6bn.

"We believe that a thriving creative sector is part of a strong economy and one which will rejuvenate our high streets. It is my hope that the Arts and Cultural Fund will support the diverse and vibrant communities we have throughout the county," Councillor Graham Butland said.

£38.3m for ACE’s Creative People and Places

group of people stand in front of a murial
07 Dec 2021

Eleven new projects join the programme, all located in areas rated as ‘high need’ for cultural investment.

City advisors 'the only way' to save night time economy

06 Dec 2021

A Night Time Advisor in every major city will help kickstart the industry's recovery.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) hopes to establish 12 new advisors to match those in Bristol, London and Greater Manchester.

Covid-19 closures and restrictions have caused an estimated 90,000 job losses, with a third of the UK’s nightclubs no longer trading.

The advisors will act as representatives for local nightlife, reporting to their local or combined authority executive to spotlight regional issues.

NTIA CEO Michael Kill says this is the only way the sector can recover its pre-pandemic vibrance.

“We would call on all relevant local and combined authorities to engage with us on this to benefit the many millions who want to see thriving night time economies all over the UK.”

Knowsley becomes Liverpool's Borough of Culture

30 Nov 2021

Knowsley has become Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture.

Following on from Halton's year with the title, Knowsley will be the next in a rotation of the city's six regions to present a year-long cultural programme.

Planned events include a borough-wide sculpture trail, light installations, a six-metre-wide replica of the earth and the opening of the Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot next summer.

"I have no doubt that Knowsley will set a new benchmark for the next rotational round beginning in 2023... and I look forward to seeing what Halton will do again in 2026," Cultural Partnership Co-Chair Phil Redmond said.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, who introduced the initiative in the region in 2018, said Halton had "risen to the challenge of delivering Borough of Culture during some exceptionally difficult circumstances".

"Looking forward to 2022, I’ve been really excited by the enthusiasm and imagination shown by Knowsley in putting together their calendar of events."

A final programme for 2022 will be announced soon.

£8.1m to redevelop Trowbridge Town Hall

29 Nov 2021

Witshire's Trowbridge Town Hall is set to undergo a £8.1m redevelopment next year.

Half of the £16.3m given to Trowbridge from the Future High Streets Fund will go towards restoring the Grade-II listed building's ballroom and creating three smaller performances spaces.

The venue hosts film, music, visual arts and theatre events, welcoming 50,000 visitors annually.

Director David Lockwood hopes the project will reimagine a town centre with community ownership and culture at its heart.

"The Town Hall opened over 100 years ago and pledged ‘for the benefit of the inhabitants of the town for ever.’ A century on, we’re inspired by that history to create a pioneering cultural venue which is deeply rooted in its community."

Lewisham plans diverse Borough of Culture calendar

29 Nov 2021

Lewisham London Borough of Culture will celebrate local diversity and bring positive changes to the area, according to its coordinators.

We Are Lewisham said the year will include Breathe 2022, an air pollution-focused artwork beginning in April, and see The Albany transform into a beach for climate change artwork Sun & Sea in June.

Liberty Festival, a showcase by D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists, and Revolution Through Music, a celebration of Lewisham’s activist history, are both scheduled for July.

The borough won more than £1m to stage the third edition of the event, which was delayed from 2021 due to the pandemic.

The programme represents a much-needed call to action that is also joyful and celebratory, according to Creative Director Gavin Barlow.

"Lewisham has always been somewhere that stands up for what it believes in, and the year will showcase the power of the arts to inspire positive change and celebrate our borough’s contributions to music, visual art, dance and more."

£1m to support South Yorkshire’s cultural recovery

28 Nov 2021

Creative and cultural start-ups and small businesses in South Yorkshire can now apply for grants supporting post-Covid recovery. 

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) will offer between £5,000 and £40,000 per applicant. A total of £1m is available, with £450,000 earmarked for Doncaster. 

Proposals must show consideration towards the borough’s Great 8 Priorities, which include tackling climate change, promoting cultural opportunities and six wellbeing goals.

South Yorkshire is among the regions that lost the most economic value due to Covid-19, according to new research.

Mayor Dan Jarvis acknowledged local arts, culture and heritage have been hit hard by the pandemic, making investment an essential part of recovery.

“If supported and nurtured, the creative industries can help drive growth in our region and realise untapped potential.”


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