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Culture Awards 2009: Best Arts/Business Partnership

CULTURE Shock was a regional storytelling project, aimed at stockpiling a library of its participants’ past experiences for posterity.

Winner: John Lewis and Tyne and Wear Museums

CULTURE Shock was a regional storytelling project, aimed at stockpiling a library of its participants’ past experiences for posterity.

Based on the premise that everyone has a story to tell, hundreds of people in the North East have already recorded their memories and snippets from life – inspired by museum and gallery collections – in what is said to be the largest digital story-telling project in the world.

These stories, part of the two-year, museum-run scheme supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, are being captured through pictures, sounds, video, even animation, in the form of individual films of two-to-three minutes in length. The aim is to have a collection of 1,000 of them from across the region by the end of September.

The project has served to strength the partnership between Tyne and Wear Museums and John Lewis, with staff from the department store chain being among the first to share stories.

Denise Nunn, community liaison co-ordinator, John Lewis, says: "We are really thrilled to be short listed in recognition of the partnership we have with Tyne and Wear Museums (T&WM), particularly for the Culture Shock Project.

"It has been a rewarding experience and a great learning curve for those who took part and it cemented our relationship even further.

"Our partnership with T&WM has enabled our Partners to take part in Team Challenges with their Outreach Team, as well as at Stephenson Railway Museum. We have supported the Museums Hub Volunteer Awards for three years running. Looking ahead, we are planning supportive customer service training sessions for the near future to help T&WM to develop their offer."

Finalist: Potts Printers and Live Theatre

S@TAND-UP comedy has been a welcome addition to the already attractive bill offered by Live Theatre in Newcastle.

It also offered Potts Printers a chance to strengthen their support of the venue.

Currently sponsoring the theatre’s comedy season for the second year running, the Cramlington-based Potts also support the theatre via bums on seats with a constant stream of employees being regular patrons.

Gillian Firth, development manager at Live Theatre, says: "Everyone working within cultural organisations knows just how difficult the recession has made it for businesses to continue their support of arts organisations.

"Potts have not only continued to support Live Theatre, but increased the level of that support."

Finalist: Leighton Group and New Writing North

IN 2009, seven writers from across the region received awards of between £2,500 and £5,000 to support their works in progress via the annual Northern Writers’ Awards, which are given to both talented new writers and established writers.

The writers shared a prize pot of £25,000 – thanks to support from Arts Council England and the Sunderland-based Leighton Group.

Claire Malcolm, director of New Writing North, which administers the awards, says: "The Northern Writers’ Awards have for more than 10 years supported new and emerging writers in the region, helping them achieve their creative ambitions.

"The Leighton Group’s sponsorship of the project shows what is possible when business and the arts work together to invest in the creative potential of the region. It’s fantastic that the partnership has been recognised in this way.

"We are currently reading submissions for the 2010 award scheme and preparing to send them to our judges."

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