£3 million to be invested in arts and culture in the north

Arts Minister Michael Ellis and Matt Smith, CEO of Key Fund at the Theatre Royal Wakefield
Arts Minister Michael Ellis and Matt Smith, CEO of Key Fund at the Theatre Royal Wakefield
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A £3 million cash investment for arts and culture in the north of England to create jobs and support the economy has been unveiled.

Creative and cultural organisations that provide a meaningful social impact in their communities will be able to bid for loans and grants of up to £150,000 of government money as part of the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.

Projects that have already been promised money from the fund include a revamp of the former Odeon cinema in Bradford – which has been derelict for nearly 20 years.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, Michael Ellis said: “Arts and culture can play a vital role in strengthening communities and improving people’s lives.

“The Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund will give institutions access to finance so they can deliver innovative projects that use the arts to make a real difference across the Northern Powerhouse.

"It generates jobs, investment, and apprenticeships in the hundreds. We estimate that several hundred jobs will be created and several hundred more apprenticeships.

"Where the money goes will be up to the bodies running it. The government doesn't involve itself in that. It will be left to local people and local organisations to manage, not politicians and bureaucrats in Whitehall.

"We want to focus on areas that might not get as much attention as they deserve."

The government sees the fund as part of its Northern Powerhouse agenda, which aims to close the gap between the north and the south.

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry said: "Support from this new £3 million share of the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund will enable more people in communities across the North to benefit from the life-changing impact of the arts and boost investment in this important sector of our economy.

“The fund is already having a real impact in places like Bradford where building work will start this summer to transform the city’s former Odeon cinema into a live entertainment and events venue due to open next year after the project received £4 million and recently secured planning permission.”

The announcement follows a separate £4.4 million pound fund for arts projects in Wakefield. That project – the Cultural Development Fund – is expected to bring as many as 600 jobs to the region and will see the former Market Hall in the city centre converted into an arts hub.

Mr Ellis made the announcement at the Theatre Royal Wakefield before visiting some of the projects that will benefit from the arts investment, including The Hepworth Gallery.

The fund will run for two years from April and is open to a range of creative and cultural, community and social enterprise organisations.

Small or medium commercial businesses from industries such as crafts, design, fashion and art that can demonstrate they have helped their communities can also apply.

Mr Ellis added: "Many of these will go to organisations or groups of individuals who can't get loans from banks. It will invest in the community in creative and cultural way. It might involve a dance troupe, it might involve a theatre - there will be a huge variety."

Groups looking for funding can apply to community organisation Key Fund, a organisation that supports new enterprises.

Its recent investments have included a £110,000 loan to Leeds-based collective East Street Arts to build a Art Hostel for long-term accommodation for artists to work and stay in the city.

Matt Smith, Chief Executive of Key Fund, said: “We are incredibly excited about the potential of the fund to support creative and cultural activity, whilst also helping to increase social impact in disadvantaged communities across the north.”