Few of ACE's priority places are among the lowest funded

23 Sep 2021

Fifty-four priority areas for investment have high rates of deprivation and low cultural engagement, but some of the lowest funded regions have missed out.

Peterborough to deliberate on new cultural strategy 

24 Sep 2021

Peterborough is set to decide a new 10-year strategy to turn the area into a "cultural hotspot". 

The proposed strategy, co-produced by the city council, City Culture Peterborough, and Norfolk & Norwich Festival Bridge, proposes forming a local body for heritage and arts and a prospective bid for City of Culture 2029.

It hopes to capitalise on funding received from the Towns Fund to build a new city centre library and cultural site.

Peterborough is also one of 54 Arts Council England priority areas for investment.

City council cabinet member for culture Steve Allen believes the plan can deliver "huge benefits to the city for years to come”.

The strategy will be discussed by the council’s Communities Scrutiny Committee on September 28 before heading to the cabinet and full council for consideration.

Abandoned church to become arts and music venue

22 Sep 2021

Ipswich Council has granted planning permission for St Clement's Church to be repurposed into an arts centre and music venue.

Planning officers said the scheme would "add significantly to the vitality and viability of the town centre".

Councillor Carole Jones added: "Everybody would wish to see this beautiful building brought back into some use for the benefit of the community."

Work is expected to begin on the Grade-II listed building, which has been vacant for more than 40 years, before the end of the year.

Planning permission was first granted in 2016 but did not move forward due to insufficient funds.

Ipswich Churches Trust confirmed funding for the first phase of work has been secured and hopes the announcement will lead to further donations.

Swansea Council opens £50k Cultural Fund

22 Sep 2021

Swansea Council has opened a £50,000 Cultural Fund to help its local arts and culture sector bounce back from the pandemic.

Swansea-based freelancers and organisations working in arts, culture and heritage can claim up to £1,500.

"We know that with lost income and more pressure on audiences' purses than ever, the costs of staging events or concerts will be daunting for some local groups. This is where we think we can help," cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said.

"Swansea's cultural community is crucial to keeping our city strong and our residents fit and healthy."

To apply for funding, applicants must email the council and return a completed application before October 31.

Blackpool begins work on £13m Showtown Museum

21 Sep 2021

Work has begun on Blackpool’s Showtown Museum after delays caused by the pandemic.

The £13m project, which will tell the story of Blackpool and its role in British entertainment history, is expected to be completed by April 2023.

It will be located on the town’s Golden Mile inside the Sands Building, which will also feature Blackpool’s first five-star hotel.

Described as the “jewel in the crown” of Blackpool Council’s regeneration plans, the project has received funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund, Coastal Communities Fund and Lancashire Growth Deal.

The museum says it will celebrate the comedians, dancers, acrobats and characters who turned the seaside town into “the home of showbusiness”.

New culture strategy for North East Lincolnshire

20 Sep 2021

North East Lincolnshire Council has appointed creative consultants Beam to determine its new culture and heritage strategy.

The council decided in 2017 to outsource its next cultural strategy. Cabinet Minister for Culture Callum Procter said “it’s now time update our work and build on the firm foundations now in place”.

The area has recently benefited from funding through the Cultural Development Fund, Heritage Action Zone and Towns Fund, alongside support for cultural programmes Grimsby Creates and Cleethorpes Townscape Heritage Programme.

Beam consultant Frances Smith said the strategy will “build on achievements to date and explore how the power of creativity can help residents and visitors to shape North East Lincolnshire’s distinct sense of place.”

It will focus on three key elements: how to build leadership, how to engage young people and how to celebrate the area's heritage.

Swindon Museum and Art Gallery is moving house

15 Sep 2021

Swindon Museum and Art Gallery will move out of Apsley House, allaying concerns it could be closed indefinitely.

Work will now begin on temporarily rehoming the gallery on the upper floor of Swindon Borough Council's city centre offices.

Council Director of Strategic Growth and Development Richard Bell said the offices will be ready to open their first display by the end of the year.

“There’s more floor space in the civic than in Apsley House, it’s more accessible, and we’ll be able to show more of the collection."

The council deemed Apsley House not fit for purpose earlier this year, raising concerns over the museum's future.

Closed since March 2020, the council had originally set aside £400,00 to repair the 1830s building.

Now it has been sold, the money is instead earmarked for the new exhibition space.

West Yorkshire moots 'Town of Culture' award

14 Sep 2021

A 'Town of Culture' competition could be heading to West Yorkshire as early as 2023 under the area's economic recovery plan.

The plan proposes "a creative new deal" to promote places in West Yorkshire and boost the visitor economy.

West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin revealed plans to create a new cultural event for the region when she was elected in May.

The former Shadow Culture Secretary penned the idea as a way of supporting the area's cultural offer.

If the contest is launched, it would be reserved for places too small to vie for the national City of Culture title.

West Yorkshire is represented by Bradford and Wakefield in the 2025 longlist for UK City of Culture 2025.

Falkirk Council to vote on arts centre location

13 Sep 2021

Falkirk Council is set to vote on a site for its new arts centre and council headquarters.

The £45m arts centre, which has been given the go-ahead despite rising costs, will include a theatre, library and studio spaces alongside the council offices.

But the council is yet to agree on where it will be built. Council officers and the SNP want the arts centre and offices to be built together, whereas Labour have suggested splitting the projects across two sites.

Falkirk Business Improvement District Manager Elaine Grant says it is "critical" both the headquarters and arts centre are in built in the heart of the town.

"It will have a significant impact not just on local business but [also] through further investment."

The council will reconvene on September 24 to discuss further.

London invests £1.3m into creative jobs

10 Sep 2021

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced £1.3m for the city's Creative Enterprise Zones (CEZs) as part of a plan to double the size of the scheme.

Croydon, Lambeth and Lewisham's zones will share £1.1m - £450,000 from the CEZs scheme and £650,000 from the city's final European Social Fund grant. The councils will contribute the remaining £200,000.

Each will pursue a project to increase training, infrastructure and mentoring opportunities that support creative careers.

'Win Creative Croydon' will provide training for music industry roles.

In Lambeth, 'Brixton Creative Works' will provide specialist training to business owners wanting to support early career creatives, as well as career fairs and mentoring.

And 'Inspire Lewisham' will work with partners at Lewisham College, Goldsmiths University and The Albany to teach music and coding to creatives from underrepresented backgrounds.

Council cancellation of controversial comedian contested

07 Sep 2021

Nearly 29,000 people have signed a petition in support of Roy "Chubby" Brown after a performance in Sheffield was cancelled.

Sheffield City Trust, which runs Sheffield Town Hall, says the comedian's humour does not reflect its values.

It has issued refunds to all 300 ticket holders. The venue's capacity is more than 2,300.

Petitioners are fighting back with a freedom of expression argument: "If you don't like it, don't go watch."

The trust's decision follows a pre-pandemic pattern of regional venues cancelling the comedian's shows.

ArtsProfessional reported in 2019 that the boss of Middlesbrough Town Hall, a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England, resigned after the local council overrode her decision not to book Roy Chubby Brown.



Sheffield 'starved' of arts funding

07 Sep 2021

Sheffield receives less arts funding than Manchester despite having a larger population.

Analysis by The Star found that Manchester and Leeds get four times as much from Arts Council England.

Organisations in Sheffield have received £37.8m in grants since 2017/18 - the equivalent of £64.77 per person.

Leeds received the equivalent of £166.94 per person over the same period, while Manchester got £274.78 per head of population.

City Council Deputy Leader Julie Grocutt said Sheffield "punches above its weight" culturally.

The Sheffield Culture Collective launched its first strategy for regional growth in June.

"We are keen to strengthen relationships with major funders to redress the geographical imbalance in funding... and are working with partners in the Culture Collective to do just that," Grocutt said.

"We now need to make a determined effort together to bring in greater investment in to Sheffield and tackle this unfairness."

Creative freelancers missing out on business support

01 Sep 2021

After the turmoil of Covid-19, policymakers are taking interest in a new report that categorises creative freelancers based on their motivations - and what support will help them most.

Cross party MPs go in to bat for Glasgow

01 Sep 2021

Scotland’s Labour and Conservative parties are calling on the Scottish and UK Governments to agree a new funding deal for Glasgow’s culture and leisure services.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar raised a motion in Holyrood calling for further support for Glasgow Life, which runs culture and leisure on behalf of Glasgow City Council.

The charitable organisation warned it cannot reopen more than 90 of its 171 venues if it does not receive more than the £100m guaranteed by the council over the next four years. 

Glasgow Life lost £38m during the lockdown, leading to plans to cut 500 jobs.

Scottish Conservative Glasgow MSP Annie Wells voiced her support for the motion.

“It should be a source of shame for the SNP Government that so many vital facilities and venues in Glasgow are under threat.”

Let's create austerity

a women looks at paintings in galleries
01 Sep 2021

It’s been over a year since Arts Council England published its 10-year strategy, Let’s Create. Bethany Rex has been investigating how the strategy might translate into action.

59% of local authorities report budget increase

Huddersfield Library and Art Gallery
26 Aug 2021

English councils cite the ongoing recovery from Covid-19 as driving both increases and decreases in their budgets.

Frome considers new arts and heritage centre

24 Aug 2021

The Somerset town of Frome may soon have a new, purpose-built arts and heritage centre.

Acorn Property Group received permission from Mendip District Council to redevelop the town centre’s Saxonvale site, with plans to build 300 homes as well as the centre.

The development will be part-funded by the Government’s Levelling Up scheme, with the council splitting the grant across its constituency.

Council leader Ros Wyke said a “fair share” will be directed to "Frome and its needs”. 

Frome Town Council confirmed it is seeking other grants to judge the viability of the project.

Local authority culture budgets increase post-Covid

photo of New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth
12 Aug 2021

The increased spending may not indicate increased investment, as councils are forced to compensate for income lost during Covid-19.

Advantaged areas won more Culture Recovery Fund money

02 Aug 2021

Places that have fewer National Portfolio Organisations and less buy-in from local authorities may struggle to access other funding streams, new research indicates.

London’s Creative Enterprise Zones to double

30 Jul 2021

City Hall is investing £3m to grow the scheme, which has supported 300 cultural organisations and 1,000 jobs through the pandemic.


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