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.

LEEDS 2023 announces two international collaborations

03 Nov 2021

Cultural festival LEEDS 2023 is bringing locally-based artists together with international collaborators in two new programmes as part of its year-long programme.

The World in Our City, the City in Our World will include work by musicians, DJs, theatre makers and writers from cities including Kuala Lumpur, Karachi and Durban.

A second programme, Tech for the Public Good, will create an online residency with participants from countries including Ghana, Iraq, Lebanon, Nepal, Mexico and the UK.

Both programmes are supported by the British Council.

LEEDS 2023 Executive Producer Emma Beverley said: “This work will see us foster new connections across borders whilst also supporting and developing local talent.”

London taskforce develops a warehouse worth of creative workspaces

aerial view of London
03 Nov 2021

A network of more than 60 creative and commercial organisations has been established but plans for a “major creative moment” have fallen away. 

Medway creative sector gets Levelling Up boost

28 Oct 2021

A Medway theatre is one of three local creative sector projects due to share £14.4m in Levelling Up funding.

The first tranche of grants from the Government scheme was released as part of Wednesday's Budget.

Medway Council says The Brook Theatre will be "comprehensively repaired, refurbished and upgraded". More than 400sqm of creative workspace will be added.

Creative workspaces are also a feature of the other two levelling up projects.

The Docking Station, a former police section house, will be redeveloped to house the Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries. Artists, graduates and staff at the University of Kent will have access to studios, performance spaces and an interactive digital gallery.

The Fitted Rigging House will be brought "back into effective use" with 1,939sqm of creative-focussed commercial floorspace.

£10.4m Anglo-Saxon attraction slated for Northumberland

27 Oct 2021

A new visitor attraction representing little-known Anglo-Saxon history will open in Northumberland next autumn.

Ad Gefrin will recreate the archeaological site of Gefrin, or Yeavering - a summer palace to 7th Century kings and queens - as an immersive experience.

The site will include a bar, gift shop, and the county's first legal whisky distillery in 200 years.

The £10.4m project's Head of Operations Dr Chris Ferguson said it will present the story of the "golden age of Northumbria".

"Yeavering is a Northumbrian royal palace counterpart to the ship burials at Sutton Hoo in East Anglia and was as richly decorated and significant a place, if not more so.

"I hope that by bringing to life the stories of the people that lived at Yeavering we will showcase one of the most significant archaeological sites in the British Isles."

Great Place Greater Manchester

26 Oct 2021

Julie McCarthy reflects on three years of action research into the role of culture in shaping the lives of the people of Greater Manchester.

Camden music venue to reopen in Spring

25 Oct 2021

North London music venue KOKO is set to reopen next Spring following a £70m redevelopment.

Originally closed in 2019, the venue’s refurbishment was hit by Covi-related delays and a fire in January 2020 which destroyed a third of the building’s roof.

Work on the Grade II-listed building included a four-storey upward extension and expansion into two adjacent buildings. Once reopened, it will boast multiple performance spaces to host almost 1,000 musicians annually, according to CEO Olly Bengough.

Bengough also confirmed a foundation under KOKO's name will launch next year. 

“I think every community needs help, and we want to focus on the local community in Camden and see what we can give back.”

Manchester’s Factory to open in 2023 after delays

construction of the Factory
20 Oct 2021

The £186m arts complex continues to make a “strong strategic case” with a revised business case and new training programme.

London to repurpose Royal Docks as cultural quarter

19 Oct 2021

London’s Royal Docks is set to become ‘London’s cultural engine’ under plans to repurpose the space as a cultural quarter.

Work has begun on a range of creative spaces, including transforming the Tate & Lyle Sugar warehouses into a community workspace. Planning permission has also been granted for a rotating theatre to open in 2023.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz believe the area can transform into a place where “new ideas are formed and cultural participation is open to all”.

Khan said the quarter has the potential to deliver 35,000 jobs, 4,000 new homes and more than £5bn of inward investment within the next 20 years.

“It is the latest example of London roaring back to life with culture leading the way in our city’s economic recovery.” 

Citizen's assembly invites input on arts in placemaking

13 Oct 2021

A citizen's assembly on the role of arts and culture - the first of its kind anywhere in the world - has begun.

A new website launched on Thursday (October 14) for residents of Coventry to share their views on how arts and culture can shape the city's future.

The ideas given online will be debated by 50 paid participants, who have been randomly selected from a representative sample of the population.

That group's recommendations will help form Coventry's long term cultural planning and a series of creative projects in 2022.

“This poll is a way of getting a sense of how the wider city feels about the issues the assembly is debating, and of feeding other views, perspectives and ideas in for the assembly participants to deliberate," said Janet Vaughan, Co-Artistic Director of project lead Talking Birds.

The website remains open for comments until November 5.

City of Culture 2025 a 'springboard' regardless of longlist

11 Oct 2021

The challenge now for some of the latecomers will be completing years' worth of planning in weeks.


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