£383 million new funding for the North

Press release from Arts Council England

£383 million new funding for the North as we back creativity and culture for more people in more places

We’ve announced details of the new national portfolio of organisations we will fund from 2023-26. We will distribute £383.5 million to 282 organisations across the North over the next three years, ensuring that more people will be able to enjoy art and culture in the places where they live.

Of the organisations receiving funding today, 78 are new to the portfolio. Many are based in places which have received less cultural funding in the past and where there have been fewer opportunities to access creative and cultural activities.

Those joining our portfolio include the Festival of Thrift in Redcar, Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot in Knowsley, children’s arts company Wild Rumpus in scholar Green, Cheshire, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway TrustSouthpaw Dance Productions in Sunderland, theatre company LUNG in Barnsley, the West Yorkshire Print Workshop in Mirfield in Kirklees, The Auxiliary Project Space in Middlesbrough, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, and The Culture House in Grimsby.

These organisations will sit alongside others with a longstanding relationship with the Arts Council in the area’s major cultural hubs, as we renew our support for Northern Stage in Newcastle, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Liverpool BiennialNorthern Ballet in Leeds, the Royal Exchange and Factory International in Manchester, the Sage and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Arts in Gateshead, and Sheffield Theatres.

We are continuing to invest in organisations bringing culture to rural communities across the North, including November Club, a touring theatre company working across rural Northumberland, Rural Arts North Yorkshire, and Cheshire Rural Touring Arts, ensuring that more people have the chance to enjoy arts and culture without needing to travel to major towns and cities.

This investment builds on the work done to strengthen the North’s cultural sector in previous years, which has seen the area already become a place where leading national cultural organisations are keen to be located. The British Library, for example, has a major site at Boston Spa in Yorkshire, and is exploring the potential of opening another at Temple Works in Leeds. Plans are also underway, led by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, to create a new National Poetry Centre in Leeds, which will join other organisations such as BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s literature charity, in cementing the city’s place as a national centre for literature.

This investment also reflects the Arts Council’s commitment to build on the legacy of Hull’s tenure as City of Culture in 2017, while looking ahead to Bradford holding that title in 2025.

In Hull, we are investing in Absolutely Cultured, which runs the Humber Street Gallery, alongside the internationally-acclaimed Freedom Festival and Hull Truck Theatre. We are also supporting the award-winning Middle Child theatre company, and Back to Ours, an organisation that works with local people to create cultural experiences for communities across Hull.

We are increasing our investment in Bradford’s Kala Sangam arts centre, which celebrates the culture of the city’s South Asian communities, and funding new joiners Bloomin’ Buds Theatre Company, which collaborates with working class communities to bring theatre to people in Bradford who have traditionally faced barriers to taking part in the arts, and hip-hop dance company Tech Styles Dance. We are offering extra investment to Bradford Literature Festival to help the organisation expand its work to become a world leader in its industry, and for the first time we will invest in Bradford Museums and Galleries, which runs the Bolling Hall Museum & Library, Bradford Industrial Museum, Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, and Cliffe Castle.

We have increased our investment in places in the North where cultural investment and opportunity has previously been too low. In Barrow, Signal Film and Media, which gives local people of all ages the chance to take part in free training in film and digital media, joins the portfolio. And we are offering additional funding to Art Gene, which is a specialist in art and the environment, to help it extend its activity in Cumbria and internationally; Full of Noises(formerly the Octopus Collective) which commissions and produces work from sound artists and contemporary composers; and Theatre Factory which works with young people.

The number of organisations in the new portfolio creating work for children and young people has increased by 25 per cent. These include children’s literature charity Grimm and Co in Rotherham, Northern Ballet, who will receive additional funding to tour children’s ballets, and children’s theatre companies such as Mortal Fools in Ashington and Theatre Hullabaloo in Darlington.

This focus on young people follows through into our investment in organisations supporting creative skills, talent development and creative career opportunities in the North. The Warren Youth Project, for example, provides free rehearsal and studio space for young musicians in Hull. Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art forms part of Teesside University’s School of Arts & Creative Industries, allowing students to learn from practicing artists who exhibit at the gallery and giving them an insight into the workings of the professional art world. Factory International’s training programmes in Manchester are developing the next generation of technicians, producers and arts professionals.

There is also an increase in Arts Council funding for museums and libraries across the North. Many are joining the national portfolio for the first time, including the National Football Museum in Manchester, Norton Priory Museum and Gardens in Runcorn, Sefton Libraries in the Liverpool City Region and South Tyneside Libraries. We are also continuing to invest in many more, such as the Humber Museum Partnership, Wakefield Council Museums, the Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library in Preston, and Storyhouse in Chester, as well as the Association of Independent Museums in Cheshire, which supports independent museums across the country.

Together, this mix of organisations will create a rich and varied portfolio, producing ambitious, world-leading work that strengthens England’s position as an international centre for the creative industries, while also providing accessible creative and cultural experiences for people from every background, in more places across the North than ever before.

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