Arts groups in the north of England are celebrating after it was revealed that they will share £1.4m from a scheme created after Newcastle City Council cut its culture funding. A pressure group calling themselves The Newcastle Culture Investment Fund was started after the council backtracked on its plan to cut its entire arts budget last year. The fund will award £1.8m of council money over three years. More than £1.42m has been allocated in the first round of grants, with the rest available for subsequent years.
The council put £600,000 into the new fund after it was backed celebrities including Sting and Dire Straits guitarist, Mark Knopfler. Council leader Nick Forbes said it was an opportunity for celebrities to “put their money where their mouth is”, speaking to the Journal newspaper in December, he said: “There is still an opportunity for rich individuals who made quite a lot out of the North East over the years, in cultural terms, to contribute to this.”
The only contributor so far has been the city council and The fund is being administered by the Community Foundation. Chief executive Rob Williamson who told the BBC: “Our intention was always to complete the first round of grant-making with the council’s initial commitment, which demonstrates the fund’s purpose and reach, before considering plans for extending the fund through philanthropic gifts. “Therefore the Community Foundation has not so far made approaches for further support.”
The first round of grants include: Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, which will receive £200,000 over the next three years, while Northern Stage has been granted £150,000 and the Great North Museum will get £120,000. Arts groups can apply to the fund for up to three years’ support or for a one-year project grant. Also receiving funding are the North East Circus Development Trust (£90,000), Twisting Ducks Theatre Company (£118,000), Star and Shadow Cinema (£103,000), Helix Arts (£105,000) and New Writing North (£90,000). The Theatre Royal was the most high-profile venue to not receive a grant.