Culture offers 'clear opportunities' to reinvent high streets

10 Feb 2022

ACE says there is "more to be done on both sides" to bolster culture's role in town centres.

LEEDS 2023: levelling up in action

panoramic overhead view of Leeds city centre
09 Feb 2022

Since Britain’s exit from Europe, we have no longer been able to compete for European Capital of Culture. But, as Kully Thiarai writes, Leeds decided to do it anyway. 

£12m expansion at Bristol-based studios

07 Feb 2022

Work is under way on a £12m expansion of Bristol TV and film studios The Bottle Yard.

Three new stages will be added to the existing eight studios in works due to be completed in summer.

A further £1.6m, received from Bristol City Council, will ensure The Bottle Yard’s current facilities are sufficient to meet its 10-year business plan.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees says the investment will create jobs, skills and training opportunities.

“It will be a major boost to our wider regeneration plans for South Bristol, bringing growth and opportunity to the area”.

Longlist make their UK City of Culture bids

04 Feb 2022

Eight places longlisted to become UK City of Culture in 2025 handed in their bids this week.

Bradford, Cornwall, County Durham, Derby, Southampton, Stirling, Wrexham, and a coalition of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon were each given £40,000 to develop their applications before the deadline on Wednesday (February 2).

The competitors have been tight-lipped about their plans for the most part. Cornwall said its bid is "a call to action about how we all need to address the environment crisis", whilst Southampton is planning a giant circus show for its opening ceremony if selected.

DCMS will now consider the applications. A shortlist is expected next month, with a winner to be announced in May.

Levelling Up White Paper targets cultural engagement outside London

02 Feb 2022

Arts Council England will spend 100% of its budget uplift in the regions as Government commits to "significantly increasing" cultural spending outside the capital.

Lewisham Borough of Culture begins

31 Jan 2022

Lewisham’s Borough of Culture programme has begun.

Performances and workshops took place across the South London borough on Friday (January 28), including the projection of film We Are Lewisham in three local areas, plus Piccadilly Circus, in the evening.

Organisers say the year will be full of opportunities to get involved, showcasing local talent and offering young Lewisham residents chances to gain skills in the creative industries.

The official programme promises to celebrate the area’s diverse communities, legacy and history of activism.
“It is big and bold, created with local people, and sets the tone for what will be a wonderful, celebratory, inclusive year,” Mayor of Lewisham Damien Egan said.

“Art truly will be everywhere in the borough, showing the very best of what Lewisham has to offer.”

New partners for Leeds 2023

27 Jan 2022

New partners have signed on to deliver creative projects for Leeds 2023.

The British Library, Leeds Rhinos, Leeds United, National Youth Theatre and Women of the World (WOW) are among the partnerships in development for the year-long placemaking festival.

Announcements about the programme will be made in September.

Chair of Leeds Culture Trust Gabby Logan said: “To have attracted such a breadth of partnerships from major organisations across education, arts and sports is amazing and shows that Leeds is already a city of creativity and ambition."

Work on Welsh language arts strategy begins

26 Jan 2022

Arts Council of Wales is set to begin work on a new strategy for Welsh and the arts.

The funder says it will draw up the strategy in collaboration with the arts and Welsh language sectors.

Individuals and organisations interested in contributing are invited to attend fortnightly Zoom discussions starting February 9, hosted by Einir Siôn, recently appointed as the council’s first Welsh Language Enabler.

Siôn says the strategy will be formed in an open and participatory way, with public discussions focused on actions the Arts Council can take in the arts: “This will not be a platform to air complaints but an opportunity to discuss positive ways of creating change."

Working dynamically

Z-Arts' contribution to 'Here and Now'.
25 Jan 2022

ACE’s Let’s Create strategy prioritises ‘dynamism’ as a funding principle. But what does it mean? Annabel Turpin and Gavin Barlow share how their organisation’s dynamism helped them respond to the pandemic. 

Catford theatre starts £7m refurb

24 Jan 2022

Catford’s Broadway Theatre is closing this month for a £7m renovation project.

Funding for the work comes from Lewisham Council’s capital programme and will include an overhaul of the theatre’s auditorium and foyer.

The refurbishment means the Grade II listed building will be closed throughout Lewisham’s tenure as London Borough of Culture.

Cabinet Member for Culture André Bourne said it is important the area continues to invest in its arts heritage.

“We’re happy to have secured the £7m needed to give the theatre a new lease of life as it approaches its 90th birthday, making it more inclusive and ensuring it meets audiences’ expectations for comfort and quality.”

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-for-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.


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