The best of North East culture was trumpeted loudly last night as The Journal Culture Awards took place in Durham. Sam Wonfor reports
A YEAR of North East culture and those responsible for it was royally celebrated in Durham last night.
It was the fourth Journal Culture Awards – in a brand new home.
After three great years at Northern Stage, Newcastle, the event had gone south (in the best possible way), and was taking place inside the lovely confines of Gala Theatre Durham.
As 6pm approached, keen observers in the area will have noticed crowds of movers, shakers and creative work makers from the region’s cultural community, making their way to the venue to find out who won what across the 15 categories being recognised.
You will find all the winners and finalists in this supplement.
Like South Shields comedian, Sarah Millican who was named Performer of the Year; Matt Stokes who was proclaimed Visual Artist of the Year; and Kathryn Tickell, who was recognised for making a special contribution to North East arts and culture.
As well as rewarding individual talent, the ceremony also celebrated great cultural events and other doings which that happened in 2009.
Light festival Lumiere in Durham; the Juice Festival on Tyneside, Odin’s Glow, Tees Valley; and the Re-garrisoning of Hadrian’s Wall would be a quartet of cases in point.
In addition, the pre-ceremony drinks and after-ceremony back-patting interval also allowed for many to toast the group of cultural heavyweights who are moving – or have moved – on.
Last year paved the way for a change of personnel in some of the region’s key culture posts. Mark Robinson, executive director Arts Council England, North East; Andrew Dixon, chief executive of Newcastle Gateshead Initiative; Alec Coles, director of the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums; and Stella Hall, creative director of culture10, all announced their departures.
They were all mentioned warmly in a variety of corners last night too... some of them were even there to clink their glass in appreciation.
During the on-stage proceedings, a selection of top notch performances kept the crowd entertained.
Performance poet Kate Fox, who graced us with her talent last year with a bespoke poem, made a welcome return to get the party started.
She was followed later in the first half by a fellow former Culture Awards performer (and previous Best Newcomer), Katie Doherty, who performed one the songs she wrote for Cassop and Coal – an outdoor theatre production in Durham, which was named Performance of the Year last night.
In the second half, DJ and rapper Fred Phethean and breakdancing champions Bad Taste Cru wowed the audience with their wares, before being joined by some aspiring young performers in an excerpt-in-progress from the upcoming Durham Mysteries.
Fred is working with his mother, writer Ellen Phethean on the urban-style retelling of Cain and Abel.
Later, the Northern Chords Festival’s Young Musician of the Year, 15-year-old pianist Jess Ng[corr], treated the audience to a solo performance.
While Gateshead-bred band, Smoove ‘n’ Turrell, who count Radio 2’s Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie as big fans, closed the evening in style.
Journal editor Brian Aitken said: "It’s been another terrific night and a wonderful reminder – if we needed one – of the amazing and spectrum-spanning talent we are lucky enough to have in the North East."
Click the category names for more information
Cassop and Coal – Tin Arts
Sophie Lisa Beresford
Rank: Picturing the Social
Re-garrisoning of Hadrian’s Wall
Gerhard Richter: Modern Times at mima
Great North Museum: Hancock
Tyne and Wear Museums and John Lewis: Culture Shock
Northern Print Biennale