‘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”.

‘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.

How might culture engineer levelling up? 

Light installation
25 Jan 2022

DCMS is calling for evidence for its latest inquiry on the levelling up agenda. Jason Jones-Hall has been analysing initial data from place-based funding streams and shares his findings. 

Pioneering Coventry theatre to close

30 Jun 2022

A theatre set up in a former shop in Coventry to allow audiences to enter a space and meet artists as equals is to close after 13 years.

Theatre Absolute has run the Shop Front Theatre in City Arcade since 2009, but has said it will close in November, with the premises due to be demolished next year as part of city centre redevelopment plans. 

The theatre, inspired by a model in Chicago, was set up by Theatre Absolute Artistic Directors Chris O’Connell and Julia Negus in partnership with Coventry City Council. 

It was the first, and remains the only, professional shop front theatre in the UK.

O'Connell said: “It will be immensely sad to see the space and the Arcade itself go, it’s been a brilliant home for independents. 

“But we had already decided that Theatre Absolute’s future lay in progressing our work in other ways and we’re excited to start exploring that.”

National Lottery awards £13.7m for community projects

30 Jun 2022

Six projects designed to support heritage, culture and nature have received funding from the National Lottery to help communities recover from the impact of the pandemic. 

A total of £13.7m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has been allocated, including £2.1m to Leeds Culture Trust for its Leeds 2023 project, a creative programme that aims to "let culture loose" across the whole city. 

The funding will be used to help uncover hidden community stories, celebrate art, music, dance and industrial history; reconnect people with nature; explore the traditions and role of different cultures in Leeds.

Meanwhile, Derbyshire Dales District Council has been awarded £1m for its Hurst Farm Heritage Trail project.

And Blyth Tall Ship has been awarded £636,600 for its Blyth Heritage Community Response project, which will provide group activities to develop their skills and improve their own wellbeing and employability.

Other beneficiaries are Redruth Revival for its project Redruth Buttermarket: Rediscovering the Market Town, the Tweed Forum for its Destination Tweed: Source to Sea Restoration and Revitalisation project, and NatureScot for its Species on the Edge project.

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “I am delighted that we were able to support these exciting projects, which put heritage at the heart of people and places. 

"It is so uplifting to see the continued ambition in the light of the impact of the pandemic and ongoing challenges, protecting our precious heritage and supporting communities to recover and thrive."

Coventry City of Culture attracts more than a million

06 Jun 2022

More than one million people attended events in Coventry during the city’s stint as UK City of Culture, according to analysis from organisers.

Coventry’s year-long programme came to an end last Tuesday (31 May), after 709 events took place across the city, including Radio 1’s Big Weekend and the 2021 International Booker Prize.

More than 389,000 tickets were issued for live events, with a further 137,000 attending unticketed live events. The programme’s online audience, which pulled focus for events affected by lockdown, is estimated to have reached over 516,000.

The initial results do not include visitors to the public art programme, participation and workshop activity figures, or the creative programme funded by Coventry City of Culture Trust but delivered by partner organisations, which will be reported in the final evaluation.

Coventry secured more than £172m of direct investment to support its programme of events. City Council leader George Duggins says the calendar succeeded in bringing people together to help build a lasting legacy.

“The people, firms and organisations of Coventry will be feeling the benefits of our year as UK City of Culture for a long time to come – through improved prosperity, greater access to the arts, and a better quality of life.”

High priority areas yet to receive levelling up funding

Chesterfield's Stephenson Memorial Hall is being renovated after a successful Levelling Up Fund application
24 May 2022

Analysis finds 19 local authority areas deemed to be high priority for investment by both government and Arts Council England are yet to receive a slice of £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund.

Third of Capital Investment Programme goes to priority places

Two artists work at Project Art Works studio
13 May 2022

The programme, aimed at transforming digital and physical infrastructure, is penned as a way to put culture at the forefront of local regeneration.

Citizens’ assembly demands culture-filled future for Coventry

members of Coventry's citizens’ assembly
06 May 2022

Recommendations including more public artworks and neighbourhood creative hubs aim to contribute to the City of Culture's legacy.

Cultural anchors

The Barbican Centre, part of London's Culture Mile
04 May 2022

How can cultural institutions ‘anchor’ and facilitate growth in creative districts? Natalia Vartapetova and Christie Lam have been investigating.

Name change for 'whitewashed' Kala Sangam sparks anguish

29 Apr 2022

Founding members of the South Asian arts company accuse Arts Council England of turning a blind eye to "the definition of appropriation" as new programmes and audiences are pursued.

£5m investment in Coventry City of Culture legacy

20 Apr 2022

£5m has been committed to maintain the impact of Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture.

Starting in June, Coventry City of Culture Trust will launch a new phase of programming, expected to reach more than 500,000 audience members, secure 32 full-time jobs and support more than 50 freelance artists and cultural workers over two years.

George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, said becoming UK City of Culture was “not just about the year itself but about building a lasting legacy that would benefit local people and organisations”.

The City Hosts volunteer programme will be extended and other legacy projects pursued, including the return of the Assembly Festival Garden and the launch of the U.K.’s first permanent immersive digital art gallery, the Reel Store, in May.

There will be a focus on “the urgent and critical issue of sustainability” and a new grants programme will be established, the trust added. 

Creative People and Places restructure 'contradicts its ethos'

14 Apr 2022

Changes to the programme come after a "disappointing" couple of years in which those involved say ACE lost sight of its purpose.

Royals cut the ribbon at Spanish art gallery

08 Apr 2022

Prince Charles and Queen Letizia of Spain officially opened a new gallery of Spanish art in Bishop Auckland last week.

The first UK museum dedicated exclusively to Spanish art is part of the Auckland Project, which seeks to regenerate the township around Auckland Castle. It first opened to the public in October.

It features works by Francisco de Zurbarán, which were housed in the castle for more than 250 years before going up for sale in 2011.

They were purchased by philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer, who is the gallery's benefactor.


The place of theatre in the public realm

29 Mar 2022

A new report argues that urban planners need to do more to engage with theatre or risk losing these vital assets. Alice Morby has the details.  

North East invests £5m in cultural zones

28 Mar 2022

Three cultural and creative 'zones' will be established in the North East of England.

North of Tyne Combined Authority has invested £5m to create a "supportive and attractive environment" for creative businesses in North Shields town centre, Berwick-upon-Tweed, and Clayton Street in central Newcastle.

A report from the authority says the North Shields initiative in particular will "play a pivotal role in reinvigorating the place and creating social and economic benefits for the people who live, work and visit there – building social inclusion and helping to create a sense of pride".

The Berwick-upon-Tweed project is being led by Northumberland City Council, which is awaiting a full business case before giving final approval.

Search on for potential UNESCO World Heritage sites

28 Mar 2022

DCMS is asking places to put themselves forward for UNESCO World Heritage status.

Bids are reviewed every 10 years by a panel of heritage experts and "only locations with the potential to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List will be put forward to formal nomination," the department says.

A tentative list of sites that currently includes Scottish Flow Country and Gracehill in Northern Ireland will be updated later this year and given to the World Heritage Committee in 2024. 

There are currently 33 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK, including Stonehenge, The Tower of London, Hadrian's Wall and, more recently, the slate landscape of north west Wales. Liverpool lost its status last year due to development on its waterfront.

Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston encouraged applications: "As well as international acclaim, UNESCO status boosts tourism and creates employment and economic growth opportunities."

£30m expansion for Black Country Living Museum

24 Mar 2022

Black Country Living Museum has received £30m to create new attractions that "whisk people back in time".

The project, titled Forging Ahead, is the museum's largest ever, expanding its footprint by about a third. 

It stalled due to a funding gap caused by the costs of cleaning up an industrial site needed for the expansion. Funding has now been committed by the West Midlands Combined Authority, whose Mayor Andy Street called the project "incredibly exciting".

It will offer visitors the chance to experience what life was like between the 1940s and 1960s with a historic old town and industrial quarter, among other spaces.

Wolverhampton’s iconic Elephant and Castle pub will be recreated and Dudley’s Woodside Library will be  rebuilt brick-by-brick on the museum site.

Chief Executive Andrew Lovett said the development "provides added momentum to thrive once again" following the challenges of Covid-19.

UNESCO's Creative Cities

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride filmed in Bristol
23 Mar 2022

UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network includes 13 UK cities. Karen Merkel shines a spotlight on a programme which demands international collaboration.


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