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.

Welsh Government announces £750,000 for libraries and museums

18 May 2022

More than £750,000 of funding will be provided to help local libraries and museums develop their facilities and services, the Welsh Government has announced.

The funding, which will be delivered as part of the Transformation Capital Grant Scheme, will support Wales’ local libraries and museums to "develop and revitalise" their facilities.

There will be a particular focus on widening access, partnership working, decarbonisation, and developing sustainable services.

The fund will be used to refurbish and modernise six libraries: Penygroes Library, Dyffryn Ogwen Library in Gwynedd, Rhymney Library in Caerphilly, Pencoed Library in Bridgend, Port Talbot Library and Barry Library.

Funding will also be provided towards and Newport Museum and Art Gallery’s decarbonisation project, and to enable Monmouthshire County Council to ensure the preservation of, and future access to, their collections through work at the Shire Hall.

Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden said: “The Welsh Government remains committed to supporting these important services that fulfil a valuable role at the heart of community life. 

"This fund will widen access for our communities, promote cultural engagement, provide learning opportunities and support community cohesion, sustainability and prosperity.

“I encourage everyone to see what their local museum, archive or library has to offer.”

Norwich University of the Arts expands campus

03 May 2022

Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) has acquired central Norwich venue 20 Bank Plain.

Work will now begin to transform the former banking hall into exhibition and performance spaces, student facilities and a café, after NUA confirmed it struck a deal with current owners The Lind Trust.

It will become the university’s 12th building in the creative quarter of the city.

NUA Vice Chancellor Professor Simon Ofield-Kerr expects the university to begin using the Grade-II listed building next year.

“It provides the opportunity to create spaces that combine teaching, research, exhibition and collection and public access way beyond our existing estate and will become an important centre for both the university and the city.”

Cornwall theatre creates friends scheme

03 May 2022

A Cornwall theatre has launched an audience support scheme to support local music and performing arts.

The Friends of The Acorn scheme will see residents become a ‘friend’ of the Penzance theatre through an annual donation.

Funds raised will go towards supporting the local community, through initiatives such as discounted theatre space hire for local groups and bursaries for children and young people to take part in the venue’s community classes.

Friends will also receive notice when The Acorn’s new shows are listed and an e-newsletter of behind-the-scenes information.

Theatre Manager Richard Cawley says the launch of the scheme follows a difficult two years for the charity.

“[Friends of The Acorn] gives our supporters, who love the shows we put on, a way to regularly support us and become part of The Acorn family.”

Barbican picks refurb design team

03 May 2022

A design team led by architects Allies and Morrison and Asif Khan Studio will deliver a multi-million pound revamp of the Barbican Centre.

Chosen from a short list of five, the winning team includes engineering and sustainability consultants, artistic advisors and heritage experts.

Their vision for the Grade-II listed building will now be developed against a budget of £50m to £150m, subject to approval from City Corporation members.

Plans to refurbish the Barbican were first floated last year after the City Corporation axed proposals for a £288m Centre for Music.

Simon Fraser, Partner at Allies and Morrison, said the Barbican's re-design will look to untap potential around the centre and reduce the carbon footprint of the building.

“[It will] respect the Centre’s significant heritage value, [and] open a myriad of opportunities for creative, inclusive reinvention.”

Strengthening music in society

cartoon drawing of people playing musical instruments
19 Apr 2022

It has never been more important to recognise the value of music-making and the UK music industry as a national asset. Helena Gaunt and John Sloboda report on a conference exploring these issues.

Regional interest in orchestral music rises

11 Apr 2022

By the middle of last year "geography was no longer an issue" for inspiring audiences, but broader challenges remain.

Council gauges interest in Salisbury City Hall

08 Apr 2022

Wiltshire Council is seeking expressions of interest from cultural organisations to run Salisbury City Hall.

The hall closed in March 2020 and has since been used as a vaccination centre. The NHS will continue using it until September, at which point the council could hand it over.

It says it doesn't want to sell the building and hasn't ruled out reopening the venue itself, even though "the financial climate is challenging at the moment".

"If we decide to do that we have to ensure the venue is sustainable and will be there for the long-term."

It will hold discussions with possible operators over the coming months.


Middlesbrough eyes most creative town title

04 Apr 2022

Middlesbrough has set its sights on becoming the UK’s most creative town after investing £5m in cultural development.

The town secured £4.25m from the Government’s Cultural Development Fund, which will be topped up by match funding.

Financed projects expected to create almost 90 jobs include a fabrication laboratory within the Central Library and a £1m renovation of artists' space the Auxiliary. 

During the developments, Middlesbrough Cultural Partnership will rotate its chair to ensure equitable representation and pay every artist involved in the works.
Middlesbrough Council Head of Culture Charlotte Nicol said collaboration will be at the heart of the partnership, and key to achieving its ambition.

“This more equitable approach is what will help set us apart, providing an accessible platform for creativity, as well as additional pathways to opportunity and success for people living in and around our vibrant town.”

Controversial MSG Sphere venue approved

28 Mar 2022

Plans for the UK's largest entertainment venue have been approved against objections from locals and rival operators.

The MSG Sphere will have a 21,500-person capacity, dwarfing the neighbouring Olympic Park in Stratford, east London. A planned two-hectare LED screen has rankled residents who would see its advertising from their homes up to 16 hours a day. A petition against the project received more than 2,000 signatures.

The London Legacy Development Corporation voted in favour of MSG's application last week. London Mayor Sadiq Khan still needs to give final approval to the project.

Rival venue operator AEG said a new venue should not be located so close to existing venues: "It is imperative that MSG’s proposals do not add to congestion or overcrowding in the area, including on the public transport network."

MSG expressed its pleasure over the approval.

"Throughout this process we have worked closely with a wide range of stakeholders, and are grateful for their collaboration, which is reflected in our detailed proposal."

Bringing the classical closer

23 Mar 2022

Struggling with the elitist nature of the concert hall, Matthew Whiteside decided it was time to bring contemporary classical music to local music venues.

Doncaster heritage sites set for £560k refurb

22 Mar 2022

Doncaster Council plans to invest £560,000 in improving heritage sites across the borough.

£450,000 is earmarked to turn Doncaster’s former Museum and Art Gallery into a multi-use space for heritage events and archive facilities.

Works to restore Doncaster Grand Theatre and the city’s St James Church are also planned.

Funds are available through the Doncaster Towns Deal Heritage project. More than £2m of match funding has been raised to support the renovation projects.

Doncaster Council Senior Projects Manager Neil Armstrong says it is an exciting opportunity to revitalise key heritage assets.

“[It] will lead to significant transformation, which should be embraced.”

Unsuccessful City of Culture teams 'not disappointed'

21 Mar 2022

The legacy of the competition goes beyond the title, those who missed out say.

Local government culture commission launches

17 Mar 2022

An independent committee wants to give a "wake up call" to central government and make the case for council-led culture funding. 

Newcastle and Gateshead venues call for public's return

14 Mar 2022

Ten venues in Newcastle and Gateshead have launched a campaign to encourage the public's return this spring.

Some local venues, including the Tyne & Wear Museums' Newcastle sites, have lost more than half their pre-pandemic visitors: "By joining forces in this way, we want to highlight the strength of the cultural sector in Newcastle and Gateshead, and what it offers," Director Keith Merrin said.

'Make Your Moment', a joint advertising campaign with Newcastle and Gateshead Councils, will appear on the metro and bus shelters, and it is hoped a series of exhibitions and events will kickstart the sector's recovery..

The partnership is emphasising the ability to enjoy culture safely.

“Now that these venues have reopened and restrictions have been lifted, and with the necessary safety measures in place, we can all once again make the most of our city’s rich history, take in amazing performances and exhibitions, and experience more of what Newcastle and the wider region has to offer," Newcastle Councillor John-Paul Stephenson said.

“We can still take precautions... but we can do this while supporting our brilliant cultural sector.”

£48.1m for cultural institutions to lead regeneration

14 Mar 2022

The North East of England is the big winner of the resurrected programme, with London receiving less than 4% of the pot.

Reimagining theatre

09 Mar 2022

John McGrath shares his vision for a radical, new, ultra-flexible space that he hopes will be a significant addition to the cultural landscape.

Call for second option on cultural heart plan

08 Mar 2022

Kirklees Council is being urged to put a proposed second option for its town centre cultural development out for public consultation.

Think Tank Same Skies recently argued that a temporary scheme that offered free rents of empty shops to local arts groups should be extended. The piazza is to be demolished as part of the £210m 'cultural heart' plan.

It says the council should put its idea to the public: "Why not explore both options side by side?"

Architects have just released mock-ups of the council's plans for the area, which include a 2,200 seat concert hall.


Concern over Suffolk museum name change

07 Mar 2022

Residents local to a museum in Suffolk say changing its name may lead to a loss of local heritage.

Stowmarket’s Museum of East Anglian Life is rebranding to the Food Museum. 

Matthew Attwood, creator of a petition against the rebrand that received over 1,000 signatures online, says changing the name and ethos of the museum would mean the loss of the only local institution dedicated to its culture, heritage and history.

The museum has defended its decision, saying the change reflects a consultation that found most of its collections related to food, and that many people were unsure what the museum offered.

A spokesperson said preserving local heritage remains a “real priority”.

“We’re changing our name but keeping our collections which do tell the story of food and farming in East Anglia. We’re just trying to make it more appealing to bring more people in, that’s the key.”

Time to ditch the word ‘theatre’?

Hertford Theatre
03 Mar 2022

Theatres have always been spaces to be heard in. That’s why we have an auditorium and an audience. Rhys Thomas unpicks their purpose in the 21st century.


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