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Northumberland arts projects receive £250,000 cash windfall

A Roman 'mansio' will tour Hadrian's Wall next year following a successful bid by Hexham organisations to the Arts Council England

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall

Grants totalling more than £250,000 will be invested in innovative projects following successful funding bids by two North East arts organisations.

Arts Council England has awarded £187,144 from its strategic touring programme to Hexham Book Festival and Hexham-based Arts & Heritage for a literary project called The Mansio.

It will see a specially designed mobile venue touring to seven historic sites along Hadrian’s Wall, spending 10 days at each.

There it will host premieres of new work by a variety of writers and encourage young people to reflect on the social history of the locations through multi-media, workshops, talks and other activities.

Judith King, co-director of Arts & Heritage, said a mansio was a place where Romans would stop to take refreshment and have meetings.

Judith King of Hexham-based Arts & Heritage
Judith King of Hexham-based Arts & Heritage

She said a national competition would be held for architects to design for the Hadrian’s Wall mansio.

A series of writers’ residencies has been set up in libraries and community spaces to pave the way for the mobile venue.

The idea is to build links between local audiences, the book festival, museums and heritage organisations. Material arising from the residences will feature in the mansio when it makes its appearance next year.

A grant of £99,780 from the same Arts Council programme has been awarded to Newcastle-based Isis Arts for its part in an international project called Corners.

Matt Pickering, of Isis Arts, said the project, involving 11 European arts organisations, was focused on communities deemed to be at the edges or in the corners of Europe.

Artists recruited by each of these organisations, including four from Isis Arts, go on so-called Xpeditions to various places – one, in January, included south east Northumberland and Middlesbrough – to find inspiration for their work.

Isis Arts has also been charged with establishing a digital platform for thew project which is due to go live on Monday on the website www.cornersofeurope.org

The four artists recruited by the Newcastle organisation are Maria Anastassiou, Simon Farid, Lalya Gaye and Julie Myers.

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