The Tees Valley’s culture sector has been given a fresh boost today (26 October) as Arts Council England announced £1.3million in extra funding and backing for some of the region’s biggest arts organisations.
Arts Council England – an arm’s length Government body – has designated Tees Valley Arts, in Redcar, Festival of Thrift, in Stockton, and The Auxiliary, in Middlesbrough, as new National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), joining existing NPOs such as Darlington’s Theatre Hullaballoo, Middlesbrough’s MIMA and Stockton’s ARC.
In becoming an NPO, the organisations are being recognised as leaders in their field and will be supported with three years of funding by Arts Council England from a £429million pot. This will help them deliver their aims while growing their businesses and creating jobs.
The bodies were supported to apply for the status by grants of up to £10,000 from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, allowing them to bring in external expertise for their bids.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Growing our fantastic local business to help create more jobs is central to what we do and the creative sector in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool is a key part of making that happen. This new funding, on top of the millions we’ve already secured, is a big boost to our cultural credentials and will bolster our efforts to support our local organisations to grow, as well as putting our region on the cultural map.”
The Tees Valley previously had six NPOs together receiving an annual sum of just under £2million. This new round of funding will offer £3.3million to the region’s portfolio – a rise of 66%. It also takes the total number of NPOs to nine.
Two organisations, the Family Arts Campaign and the Futures Arts Centre, both in Stockton, have also been unveiled as “Investment Principle Support Organisations” in a further boost.
The cash uplift will make the region’s culture scene more representative and accessible – with a number of these organisations now working together to help improve the sector.
Cllr Shane Moore, the Combined Authority Portfolio Lead for Culture and Tourism, said: “This NPO outcome is fantastic news and demonstrates that Arts Council England is taking Tees Valley’s designation as a ‘Priority Place’ seriously. These decisions show that our great culture offering is being nationally recognised, and the funding will help these organisations become even more dynamic and grow.
“As well as making the region a better place to live and visit, a more stable level of investment for several years will help these organisations create jobs, showing local people that they can have a career they love in a sector that’s going from strength to strength.”
This regional uplift follows the news earlier this year that Tees Valley Combined Authority area has been identified by Arts Council England as a ‘Priority Place’, recognising the historic under-investment in the region, partly due to a lack of capacity and scale of cultural organisations here. Priority Places will benefit from increased Arts Council staff time as well as greater investment.
Annabel Turpin, ARC’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director and co-chair of the Combined Authority’s Creative Place Advisory Group, said: “This is yet another welcome boost for our thriving cultural organisations. This investment will help us secure and grow the sector over the next three years, and collectively deliver more creative activity and cultural experiences for our communities. There is so much ambition and talent here, and this funding will help us realise it.”