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What have been the cultural highlights of 2007? David Whetstone explains how the best can be rewarded in The Journal Culture Awards 2007 and offers a pictorial reminder.

What have been the cultural highlights of 2007? David Whetstone explains how the best can be rewarded in The Journal Culture Awards 2007 and offers a pictorial reminder.

THE clock is ticking, the calendar is running down, the end-of-month deadline for nominations for The Journal Culture Awards 2007 is fast approaching.

Amid the sounds of jubilation earlier this year, when the inaugural 2006 awards were presented, there were sounds of disappointment – not just from those who had been nominated and not won, but from those bemoaning the fact that they hadn’t been nominated at all.

To win it, you’ve got to be in it. That’s our message today to theatre companies, bands, musicians, promoters and anyone else who thinks they have something to shout about. Motivate your supporters to get a nomination form and send it in – or register their nomination online at www.journallive.co.uk/cultureawards

And to audience members, fans, those with an interest in the arts, the message is the same – only by getting a nomination in can the judges consider your chosen artist or performance.

The old Northern Electric Arts Awards helped to raise the profile of the arts in the North-East and they were highly prized by those who won them.

But that awards scheme was wound up just as the North-East renaissance was starting to take glorious shape with the opening of new cultural institutions and venues.

The Journal Culture Awards were conceived to fill the gap. The 2006 awards ceremony, which took place in April at Northern Stage, was a huge success. Winners were quick to add their success to CVs and promotional material and we trust that the distinctive trophies crafted by Northumberland blacksmith artist William Pym have been displayed prominently throughout the year.

Few things are more encouraging than the approval of other people and when they are also potential customers or audience members, the success tastes even sweeter.

Among last year’s award winners were:

Rachel Unthank and the Winterset (Artist of the Year)

Sakoba Dance Theatre (Performance of the Year)

Kathryn Wightman, glass artist (Newcomer of the Year)

Spennymoor Letters by Ira Wightman (Arts Council Award for a community project)

Bede’s World youth outreach project (Renaissance in the Regions museum award)

The Sage Gateshead & Robert Muckle LLP (Best Arts/Business partnership)

In addition, the Stockton International Riverside Festival was judged best event of 2006 and members of The Journal Culture Club gave their own prize to the people responsible for the Victoria Tunnel, Byker.

Anything which took place between December 15, 2006, and November 30, 2007, is eligible for the awards.

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The Awards

Artist of the Year (in association with The Biscuit Factory)

Who have you seen in 2007 who really impressed you? It could be a visual artist or a performing artist but he or she will have had a tremendous year, really making a mark in his or her field. It could even be a group. Last year it was Rachel Unthank and the Winterset, a folk group based in the region which, in 2006, was really going places.

Performance of the Year (in association with Newcastle College Performance Academy)

Has a performance in the North-East this year inspired you or made the hairs rise up on the back of your neck? It could be an individual or a group but if the answer is yes, share your appreciation and give a little back in return by sending in a nomination.

Newcomer of the Year (in association with NewcastleGateshead Initiative)

Who has emerged to make an impression in 2007? There is plenty of budding talent across the North-East and this is the chance to give credit where it’s due. And remember, it is not an award aimed exclusively at the young.

Arts Council Award (in association with Arts Council England, North-East)

This is to reward an individual or organisation who has succeeded at grassroots level, using the arts in an innovative way to help a community or communities in the region. There is lots of this work that goes on in the North-East and too often it goes unsung.

Renaissance North-East: Museum Award (in association with the North-East Regional Museums Hub)

Our museums are booming. Attendances are up – a response to an atmosphere of confidence and support reflected in an unexpectedly generous financial settlement from the Government. Lots of talented people work in these institutions, big and small. Which museum display or exhibition impressed you? Nominate it and let the unseen curator take due credit.

Best Event (in association with the various sub-regional partnerships)

Awards are presented for the Best Event in Tyneside, Northumberland, Sunderland, County Durham and Tees Valley, with the Best Event of the Year prize going to the best of the best. Every year there is something that takes your breath away, whether indoors or outside, get your thinking caps on.

Best Arts and Business Partnership (in association with Sponsors Club for Arts & Business)

More than £4m in corporate sponsorship is given to the arts in the North-East, resulting in some great performances and exhibitions. The best partnerships produce surprising results and bring satisfaction to all those involved. This is the chance to highlight those of particular merit.

Culture Club Event of the Year (in association with The Journal Culture Club)

This is an award in the gift of Culture Club members. These dedicated culture vultures will direct the prize to the thing they have seen or done in 2007 that most entertained or impressed them.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer