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Culture Awards Alumni: The Class of 2007

balletLORENT, Lee Hall's The Pitmen Painters, Katie Doherty and Picture House at Belsay were all rewarded on the night

The Journal Culture Awards 2007 took place in March 2008, at Northern Stage, Newcastle.

Presented by TV and radio’s Ingrid Hagemann, the audience were treated to performances from balletLORENT, Katie Doherty and the performing arts students from Newcastle College.

The trophies were once again made by artist, William Pym.

Liv Lorent instructs dancers
Liv Lorent instructs dancers

Artist of the Year: Liv Lorent

Founder of dance company balletLORENT, 13 years after the company had formed, Liv was no stranger to taking home awards. 2007 saw the company produce distinctive works such the dark fairytale-esque Angelmouth.

At the time of winning the Award, Liv was getting ready to perform what was then her latest work MaEternal - featuring a cast of two male dancers, six female dancers and eleven pregnant women.

balletLORENT have continued to produce heartfelt and innovative dance performances with an emphasis on the fantastical. The company gained Arts Council national Portfolio Status in 2012 and in 2014 Liv was awarded an MBE for her services to dance. balletLORENT’s latest three year artistic programme was announced in April and focuses heavily on engaging families and producing work for non-conventional performance spaces.

Website: www.balletlorent.com/

Twitter: @balletlorent

Live Theatre production of The Pitmen Painters by Lee Hall
Live Theatre production of The Pitmen Painters by Lee Hall

Performance of the Year: Pitmen Painters, Live Theatre

Lee Hall’s award-winning play was based on the real life Ashington Group of painters - first formed in 1934 who, in an attempt to ‘understand’ art saw themselves becoming artists after encouragement from their tutor to learn by doing.

The play premiered at Live Theatre and helped make the Theatre’s 2007 re-opening a success by selling out multiple shows. The Pitmen Painters made a four-week return to Live Theatre not long after winning the 2007 Performance of the Year Award and then had a run at The National Theatre in London.

The Pitmen Painters has toured the country a number of times since 2007 and the original cast also enjoyed a lengthy run on Broadway.

Live Theatre remains one of the region’s most important theatre venues, regularly producing and playing host to work with a strong voice as well as running a number of programmes aimed at those interested in writing, performing and the technical aspects of theatre.

Originally from the region, playwright and screenwriter Lee Hall (Billy Elliot, Cooking With Elvis, War Horse, Toast) has long been - and continues to be - one of the North East’s most successful writing exports.

One of his latest projects is a stage adaptation of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour - a Live Theatre and National Theatre of Scotland co-production, which is based on The Sopranos. It will run at Live from October 1 to 24.

Website: www.live.org.uk

Twitter: @LiveTheatre

Reed Ingram Weir Singer songwriter Katie Doherty
Singer songwriter Katie Doherty

Newcomer of the Year: Katie Doherty

The release of her debut album Bridges meant that 2007 was a huge year for Katie Doherty. But by the time she won the Newcomer of the Year Award at 24, this was just one of a many things she had to shout about.

After performing at Sage Gateshead as part of her degree - the UK’s first ever performance based Folk and Traditional Music Degree at Newcastle University - Katie was recognised by the Folkworks Initiative who helped her to further her progress.

She went on to perform in supporting slots at Sage Gateshead a number of times and headlined her own event as well as performing overseas and working on a Royal Shakespeare Company production of As You Like It as musical director.

After winning, Katie went on a UK tour in 2009 and in 2012 wrote a song for Wallsend Festival based on 90 years worth of local memories from Wallsend Dancehall.

Myspace: https://myspace.com/katiedohertyband

Twitter - @katiesusanna

Best Arts and Business Partnership: Newcastle Building Society and Seven Stories: The Voyages Project

After playing a key role in helping Seven Stories launch in 2005 and providing support over the years that allowed the National Centre for Children’s Books to programme a range of literature and arts based activities, The Voyages Project marked the culmination of the partnership Seven Stories and Newcastle Building Society.

The project’s aim was to use storytelling in order to promote creativity. The groups of children involved were encouraged to explore their imagination and put it towards producing animation and artwork.

The partnership was praised at the time for not only being between two parties, but also with the 300 Children, teachers and families who got involved with the project.

Seven Stories is currently closed for extensive refurbishment works taking place as a celebration of it’s 10th anniversary. It will reopen on July 19, 2015. The Centre continues to develop valuable partnerships to further its ambitions and cement its status as one of the North East’s genuine treasures.

Websites: www.sevenstories.org.uk and http://www.newcastle.co.uk/

Saigon to Sunderland - Tyne & Wear Museums
Saigon to Sunderland - Tyne & Wear Museums

North East Museum Award: Sunderland to Saigon

If you only use rail transport, the furthest that you can travel from Sunderland is the Vietnamese city once known as Saigon, but today called Ho Chi Minh.

When Sunderland’s Monkwearmouth Museum re-opened in 2007 they commissioned a member of staff and a two-person film crew to make this journey and to document their experience, using the resulting film as one of museums key exhibitions when it opened.

The film tied in nicely with the focus of the Museum’s re-launch which emphasised the experience of journeys and travelling as opposed to the technological aspects of transport history that the museum is built on.

The film became one of the Museum’s most popular exhibitions and also been shown in venues across Sunderland.

Arts Council Award: Novocastrian Philosophers’ Club

In a project that aimed to challenge preconceptions and help people to understand the Lit and Phil’s somewhat secretive philosophical community, this event saw The November Club take members of the public on a theatrical tour of the building that serves as its hub.

Each tour took audiences into a fantasy world of living books, talking paintings and a story of two lovers born centuries apart. As well as providing a fantastic and atmospheric performance, the event was also a chance for curious members of the public to probe and pry into the hidden corners of the building.

The company behind the Novocastrian Philosophers Club, The November Club have continued to produce a number of projects that blur the lines between performance and exploration. Their works usually focus on the history of Newcastle with productions such as Moving into Delaval Hall; Dr Mullins and The Case of The Elephant in The Dock and Dr Mullins’ Anatomy of the Theatre Royal (both at Newcastle Theatre Royal) and 2014’s Cautionary Tales from the Trenches.

The November Club also were also responsible for We Got Mittens Too which won The Culture Awards’ Performance of the Year in 2008.

Websites: www.litandphil.org.uk and www.novemberclub.org.uk

Twitter: @litandphil and @November_Club

Boudicca and Mike Figgis' artwork in the Nursery at the Picture House exhibition at Belsay Hall
Boudicca and Mike Figgis' artwork in the Nursery at the Picture House exhibition at Belsay Hall

Best Event Northumberland: Picture House Belsay

In 2007, Belsay Hall played host to the latest in a long line of contemporary art exhibitions, Picture House. The event transformed the interior of the 14th Century Castle with works from a selection of internationally recognised artists including John Byrne, Tilda Swinton and Viktor and Rolf.

Usually empty inside, the Hall offered the perfect blank canvas and played host to a number of works focusing on film, art and Design including a peep show described as spine-tingling and a silver plated wedding dress.

Belsay Hall is still open to the public. Visitors can see the Grade I listed gardens, neoclassical hall - inspired by the temples of ancient Greece - and medieval castle throughout the year.

A range of family activities, theatre performances and exhibition are regularly programmed, while there is always much to enjoy in the Victorian Tearooms too.

Website: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/belsay-hall-castle-and-gardens/

Twitter - @Belsay_Hall

Best Event Tyneside: Eat! Newcastle Gateshead

A festival based around appreciating and celebrating local food in innovative ways, 2007 saw Eat! Take place for the first time. With a programme featuring exciting events like a Guerrilla Restaurant in a top secret location and a meal cooked from the first freshly caught fish delivered to the Quayside in 40 years, it’s not difficult to see why the festival was nominated for Best Event Newcastle.

At the time of it’s nomination the programme was praised for it’s helping to ‘Establish this pilot festival as one that has great future potential and ambition’.

This prediction has turned out to be a pretty accurate one. Eight years on and the festival is now an annual fixture on the cultural calendar, of the North East.

The most recent festival took place during February and March and featured events such as Future Chef, Future City - focusing on young up and coming Chef’s and set in the year 2040 - and a Drink Along screening of The Great Gatsby, emulating the experience of the lavish parties presented in the story.

Website: http://www.newcastlegateshead.com/eat-festival

Twitter - @EATng

The City Sings choral event involving Sunderland's School Children
The City Sings choral event involving Sunderland's School Children

Best Event Sunderland: The City Sings

The City Sings was Sunderland’s annual event that sees local primary school choirs competing in a singing competition to be awarded the Dr Gilbert Cup. Taking place at Empire Theatre, the event impressed Culture judges and won Best Event Sunderland in 2007. The most recent City Sings competition took place on March 15 2015 and saw East Herrington Primary Academy named as Primary School winners while St Anthony’s took home the Open Category title.

For the first time in 2015, the City Sings grand final was well and truly jazzed up as an audience of over 2,000 enjoyed the event’s ‘The City Sings the Blues’ theme.

Best Event Durham: Durham Literature Festival

The region’s largest literature festival saw it’s 17th year in 2007. Over the course of it’s two week run, Durham welcomed and showcased the talents of authors such as Will Self and Hilary Mantel. The festival also saw the regional launch of a book of poetry by Sean O’Brien.

Still taking place each year and now known as the Durham Book Festival, the event has continued to grow in both size and ambition. Festival commissions have become a regular feature, with work from Michael Chaplin, Kathryn Williams, Benjamin Myers and Stuart Maconie among the collection so far, as well as productions including last year’s The Worst Princess which toured the region.

The finishing touches are currently being put to the 2015 programme which the website promises will include over 70 writers and events.

Website - http://durhambookfestival.com/

Twitter - @durhambookfest

Proms in the Park at Centre Square in Middlesbrough
Proms in the Park at Centre Square in Middlesbrough

Best Event Teesside: BBC Proms in the Park

Taking place in Middlesbrough’s city square with a live performance from the Northern Sinfonia as the main event, this BBC event was a great platform for Middlesbrough to show the rest of the country the talent that the city is home to with performances from local artists such as the Wildcats of Kilkenny.

Suzannah Clarke originally initiated the campaign to bring the proms to Teesside and said upon being nominated for the award: “For all this hard work to be recognised by being short-listed for the Culture Awards is the icing on the cake for the whole team.”

Proms in the Park is an event that still takes place each year, 2015‘s London performance took place in May and was hosted by Terry Wogan and there are other events still to come in Glasgow, Swansea and Belfast.

Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3vsb5Jn0sqpCdsGKsZXSqQ6/proms-in-the-park-2015

Twitter: @bbcproms

Culture Club Event of the Year: The Art in the Garden Exhibition

An annual exhibition taking place at Crook Hall, 2007’s Art in the Garden featured an exclusive ticketed event made available to Culture Club members. The event featured a number of site specific artworks loosely based on the work of 18th Century scientist Carl Linnaeus - often known as the Prince of Flowers - with over 30 works by 11 North East artists.

This special event allowed members to take their time looking at the exhibition, enjoying the many fairytale installations such as the Frog Prince and some of the larger works like the maze and the ancient walled gardens.

2007’s art in the Garden Exhibition was the eighth such event. While the event itself no longer takes place, Crook Hall and Gardens is still open for the public to visit between April and September, and plays host to a number of different events such as guided tours. Between June and August 2015, the attraction will be holding a Magna Carta celebration event.

Website: http://crookhallgardens.co.uk/

Twitter: @CrookHall

Best Overall Event: Picture House Belsay

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