Yorkshire boost in arts funding shake-up

MORE than £100 million is to be distributed to arts organisations across Yorkshire, in the latest round of Arts Council funding.

Anthony Gormley's Flat Tree at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

In total, 670 arts, music and other cultural bodies in England are sharing grants totalling just over £1 billion during the next three years.

But while the national figure has fallen, Yorkshire will see Arts Council spending rise from £90.8m to £102.4m over this same period, with the money allocated to 75 organisations.

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Sheffield is celebrating one of its biggest arts funding windfalls after it was announced that £9.6m will be shared between nine arts organisations in the city over the next three years.

Hull is another beneficiary with a funding increase of 162 per cent ahead of its tenure as City of Culture in 2017.

World class organisations including Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) and The Hepworth, Wakefield will get sustained investment with YSP receiving an additional award of £1.7m from the Arts Council’s large-scale capital programme to enable it to provide a new gallery space dedicated to the work of Henry Moore.

York Theatre Royal was also celebrating after it was awarded £2.85m towards its £4.1m redevelopment project, the biggest investment in the theatre for more than 45 years.

Northern Ballet has been awarded funds to establish a national dance hub in Leeds, while Opera North has been given a slight increase, unlike the English National Opera which has seen its annual funding cut by 29 per cent.

HULL was one of the big winners with the Arts Council boosting investment ahead of it becoming City of Culture in 2017.

More than £3m of grants are being awarded to three arts organisations - Hull Truck Theatre, Freedom Festival and Artlink - over a three year period from April 2015.

This is on top of the £2.5m awarded to Joining Up the Humber - a consortium made up of the museums services of Hull, East Riding and North Lincolnshire.

Councillor Steven Bayes, portfolio holder for Cultural Strategy, including UK City of Culture 2017, welcomed the news, while Pete Massey, the Art Council’s North Director, said these were “exciting times” for Hull.

It is a boost for Hull Truck Theatre which earlier this year had to be given a £400,000 bailout from Arts Council England, together with Hull Council, to ensure the business kept going.

The theatre’s annual Arts Council funding will rise from £540,680 to £790,680 fro each of the next three years - an increase of 44.7 per cent increase.

Artistic director Mark Babych said: “In the context of the arts landscape it is incredible news and shows a great deal of faith in the vision we put forward.

“It enables us to be more resilient and do some key strands of work that will rebuild and strengthen the audience and build on our community links and really deliver on the promise of City of Culture.

“I am under no illusion that the hard work begins now. Getting this far has taken a supreme effort. There is a lot of expectation and we need to deliver.

“We must not make ourselves vulnerable again and make sure work is of a quality and relevance and excites people.”

However, it was not all good news. Before yesterday’s announcement there were 80 National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) in Yorkshire and now there are 75.

Among those that lost out is Huddersfield-based Dark Horse, an innovative theatre which provides opportunities to actors with learning difficulties.

It will lose all of its Arts Council funding as of next April. So, too, will Leeds-based theatre company Red Ladder.

Artistic Director Rod Dixon admitted he was “bitterly disappointed” but claimed this was not the end of the road for them.

“We put in what we believed was a hugely exciting programme of work to 2018, and it is disappointing to know that those plans will not now come to fruition,” he said.