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Arts Council funding for the North East reveals mixed picture

There is disappointment in Northumberland as theatre companies fail in funding applications

The cast of Théâtre Sans Frontières' show, Le Moulin Magique
The cast of Théâtre Sans Frontières' show, Le Moulin Magique

Mixed emotions followed today’s announcement by Arts Council England of its funding plans for the next three years, starting in April 2015.

There was disappointment and anger in Northumberland as award-winning theatre company Théâtre Sans Frontières (TSF), based in Hexham, lost 100% of its funding and Alnwick-based Northumberland Theatre Company failed in its bid to be reinstated as a regular recipient of Arts Council support.

TSF, which specialises in plays performed in French or Spanish, tours nationally and this year is in receipt of more than £200,000 of Arts Council funding.

“We are very disappointed,” said communications manager Alison Maw. “We are having a trustees’ meeting on Thursday.”

Gillian Hambleton, artistic director of NTC, which had its annual funding of £300,000 cut in the last funding round in 2011, said she wasn’t surprised at the Arts Council’s decision but it flew in the fact of the funding body’s mission statement.

“They say they support great art for everyone but I’m sorry, that’s not true. If you look at rural Northumberland, there’s nothing at all. They’ll say you can travel to Newcastle which is fine if you’ve got a car.

“But it’s not only that. The Arts Council were saying they would spend more in the regions but only 6% of organisations they support are in the North East and there’s only a shift of 2% from London to the regions.”

Who has seen the sharpest decrease in funding

Arts Council England


Most of the North East organisations admitted to the Arts Council’s national portfolio, guaranteeing regular funding for three years, have received slight cuts although Newcastle-based visual arts organisation Locus+ suffered a swingeing 42% cut, from £176,000 per annum to £110,000.

NewcastleGateshead Initiative was celebrating being admitted to the national portfolio for the first time and will receive £100,000 per year for its Juice festival for children and young people.


Tyne & Wear Archives Museums (TWAM) was successful in its bid for major partner museum status, guaranteeing £1.5m per year until 2018, but also takes over the role as the region’s Bridge organisation, working with partners to ensure children and young people across the region benefit from high quality cultural experiences.

This role, bringing additional funding worth £500,000 per year, was previously undertaken by Sage Gateshead which decided not to continue it beyond April, 2015.

Iain Watson, director of TWAM, said: “Being awarded both major partner museum and Bridge organisation funding means we can realise our ambitious plans for developing opportunities for audiences to engage with our museums and collections over the next three years.”

Also read:

Arts Council funding in the North East: Explore the winners and losers


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