UK's oldest cinema reopens with new management

20 Jan 2022

The UK's oldest working cinema has reopened under new management.

The Electric in Birmingham, closed for nearly two years due to Covid-19, has been taken over by Kevin Markwick, operator of the Picture House Cinema in Uckfield, East Sussex.

"Can’t pretend there isn’t much to do, but I’m excited and want to make The Electric the go to place in Birmingham for film lovers," he tweeted.

The Electric showed its first film in 1909.

It became an adult movie theatre in the 70s before showing mainstream and art house films.


Kaunas begins year as European Capital of Culture

20 Jan 2022

The Lithuanian city of Kaunas marks the start of its year as European Capital of Culture this weekend with an "awe-inspiring" artistic display.

City districts will host an opening ceremony in which 'circles of light' rituals, giant video projections and musical performances form part of a festival for awakening a mythical beast.

Participants are invited to track the beast in a puzzle game, with the first 1,000 winners receiving special prizes.

More than 40 festivals are planned over the coming year, as well as 60 exhibitions and more than 250 concerts.

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."

Metro seeks artists to decorate fleet

19 Jan 2022

A "unique opportunity" to create art that will be seen by millions is on offer in North East England.

Tyne and Wear Metro operator Nexus is commissioning artists to create large-scale works for the inside of its 46-train fleet.

Project grant funding from Arts Council England (ACE) has enabled what is believed to be a world first - a permanent commission within a new train.

"This is a great opportunity for a number of different artists to produce exciting work reflecting the heritage and diversity of the region," ACE Director North Jane Tarr commented.

Applications close February 28.

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.

SWG3 to build £1.5m artist studio

17 Jan 2022

Glasgow event space SWG3 is building a £1.5m artist studio on its premises.

The new Yard Works premises will house artists, youth organisations and community groups. It marks the latest stage of a £7.1m development project, aiming to reshape the venue into a "world-class cultural destination".

The project’s first phase of public access works is due to be completed this month.

Founder and Managing Director Andrew Fleming-Brown says the new studio space will help SWG3 to grow its Yard Works programming.

“It will not just benefit the area culturally, but also have wider social and economic impact through the community.”

Exclusive: £429m Levelling Up funding goes to culture

12 Jan 2022

One quarter of grants are intended for cultural projects, new data finds, as MPs launch an inquiry into cultural placemaking.

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.


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.

£12m fundraised for Birmingham 2022 festival

25 Nov 2021

Funders have given £12m to secure the future of the Birmingham 2022 festival.

The Commonwealth Games cultural event will feature hundreds of artists and is expected to reach thousands of participants and members of the community.

A core programme of events supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Esmee Fairburn Foundation will explore local LGBT+ stories and LGBT-led commissioning.

One funded project will be a "wide-reaching intergenerational" tap-dancing scheme across the West Midlands.

"It gives us the perfect opportunity to re-connect with each other and our towns and cities and get the region dancing,” project director Stephanie Ridings said.

Council and cultural sector collaboration

image of Goldsmith's Battle of Lewisham mural
25 Nov 2021

How do local authorities and arts organisations work together to bid for a year-long festival? Liz Dart and Gavin Barlow share their experience.

Protests against Thurrock theatre closure continue

24 Nov 2021

More than 4,200 people have signed a petition against proposals by Thurrock Council to close a local arts complex.

A second protest on Wednesday (November 24) demonstrates the tenacity of the Save Your Thameside campaign, organiser Sam Byrne said.

Thurrock Council received a £191,000 Culture Recovery Fund grant to reopen Thameside Theatre, but has since deemed the complex containing the theatre, city library and museum "surplus to requirements".

"If Thurrock Council get their way, they will provide a nonprofessional community arts offering in a drafty community hall in the middle of nowhere," Byrne said.

"We have written to Thurrock Council about this matter on many occasions and their lack of response and interest in engaging with the people of Thurrock shows their true lack of understanding in the arts, culture and heritage of our borough."

Thurrock Council has been approached for comment.

Huddersfield moots £210m cultural centre revamp

18 Nov 2021

Huddersfield will get a new art gallery, library, event venue and museum under proposals to create a new "cultural heart" in the town centre.

Councillors' preferred plan involves turning the central library into a museum and using service tunnels beneath the city as an exhibition space.

An event venue could have capacity for up to 2,500 people.

The council will need to borrow to finance £210m in works, slated to begin in 2026.

Cabinet Member for Regeneration Peter McBride called it "a thoughtful risk".

"It's also a huge risk to ignore the issue and to leave things behind and not to invest in our future.

"If we don't, this town will be doomed."

£16m to redevelop gallery into heritage site

18 Nov 2021

Plans to redevelop Oldham's library and art gallery into a £16m heritage site have been approved.

The new attraction will contribute to long-held ambitions for a cultural quarter in the town after a £27m redevelopment plan for the Coliseum theatre was axed.

This is the second attempt to create a heritage centre in Oldham: a plan was approved in 2018 but more stabilising works were needed.

The building will house Oldham's museum and archives, emphasising the town's historic role in the cotton industry.

Grants to develop Manchester musicians

18 Nov 2021

Ten creatives will receive £1,000 and development opportunities via Manchester International Festival's MIF Sounds initiative.

MIF Sounds launched at the height of the pandemic, helping musicians to continue working and work outside their comfort zone during an uncertain time.

This year's applicants can apply for anything from recording music, presenting a gig, releasing a record or starting a label imprint.

MIF Head of Music Jane Besse said the company is committed to helping rebuild the sector post-Covid.

One in three music sector jobs were lost in the sector as employment fell from a high of 197,000 in 2019 to 128,000 people in 2020, according to UK Music.

"We encourage everyone involved in the local music scene to apply - artists, technicians, promoters, venues, labels, managers and beyond," Besse said.

Shaping a city

Art installation in Coventry cathedral
17 Nov 2021

Jon Davis explores how Coventry’s history is a map to its artistic and cultural future. 

New cultural partnership for Blackpool

15 Nov 2021

Blackpool will establish a new cultural partnership to help the local arts sector recover from Covid-19.

Initiatives including a town centre creative hub and new live-work studios for artists will be pursued with the support of Blackpool Council.

The council said it hoped the partnership would help with "developing a vision and maximising investment in the sector".

Blackpool was recently named one of Arts Council England's priority places for investment.

Recent surveys have uncovered much creative talent and a full ecology of arts activity in the area, from amateur and community arts to professional creative work, but lower levels of investment than other parts of England.

£125k fund secures evicted arts centre's legacy

08 Nov 2021

Programmes formerly hosted by Stratford Circus Arts Centre have funding until August, but further support is not assured.

Reading opens cultural hub after fundraising £1m

08 Nov 2021

Reading’s first ever producing theatre has opened following a two-year campaign that raised over £1m.

Reading Rep Theatre is sited in an old Salvation Army building and features a 163-seat auditorium alongside rehearsal and studio spaces.

More than 20 trusts and foundations contributed to the refurbishment, as well as Arts Council England, The National Lottery Community Fund and Reading Borough Council.

Artistic Director Paul Stacey called the theatre “a cultural hub for a town emerging out of isolation”.

“It's a really special moment... we've finally got the resources to realise our ambitions and put Reading on the national cultural map.”

Yorkshire theatre ambition for new culture committee

08 Nov 2021

There are ambitions for a new youth theatre in West Yorkshire.

West Yorkshire’s new Culture, Arts and Creative Industries Committee convened for the first time last week (November 4) to discuss the region’s cultural recovery.

Led by West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin, the cultural board discussed plans for a “theatre without walls” to include a Yorkshire Youth Theatre.

“We might not be able to have a national theatre, but we can have a Yorkshire Theatre that would be made up of Yorkshire voices, Yorkshire stories, Yorkshire writers and Yorkshire talent," Brabin said.

The committee also considered a Town of Culture competition, previously suggested by former Shadow Culture Secretary Brabin.

Its next meeting is scheduled for January.


Subscribe to Placemaking