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Arts Council Funding In Greater Manchester

After the row between artists and galleries the Arts Council underlines its role

Published on July 1st 2014.

Arts Council Funding In Greater Manchester

AFTER the open letter from Manchester artists complaining about a lack of gallery exposure in Manchester here, and the response from Maria Balshaw, director of Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth Art Gallery here, the Arts Council have weighed in underlining their role in Greater Manchester's arts scene.

Greater Manchester has a powerful and growing economy and we're pleased that we have been able to contribute to this with a portfolio that's firmly rooted in growth and ambition.

The Arts Council start with stats, everything below is in their words. 

  • In Greater Manchester a total of £36,183,736 national portfolio funding over three years from April 2015 will be awarded to 31 organisations

  • Increased levels of Arts Council funding to Manchester

  • Two organisations - Castlefield Gallery and Abandon Normal Devices - join the National portfolio 
  • The Manchester Partnership (Manchester City Galleries, Manchester Museum and Whitworth Art Gallery) retains its status as a Major partner museum partnership museum 
  • Large scale capital grants awarded to Islington Mill and The Lowry in Salford, Contact Theatre in Manchester and The Met arts centre in Bury

  • Our strong partnership with the local authority in Manchester enables us to jointly sustain high levels of investment in the arts and culture sector 

Our investment helps nurture and develop world class clusters of arts and cultural organisations across the region, including Manchester International Festival and Cornerhouse in Manchester. Additional investment in Manchester International Festival will enable it to increase international commissioning, high quality engagement work and explore an off-year programme of activity.

Cornerhouse will receive an additional investment to support increased programming and cross-artform commissioning and production in its brand new arts centre HOME. World class clusters of cultural organisations such as these help raise the region’s international profile. For example, in 2013 Manchester International Festival attracted audiences of 250,000 and brought an economic impact of £38 million to the city. 

Additionally in this world class cluster, in visual arts our investment in Castlefield Gallery helps support emerging artists and our investment in nationally and internationally recognised Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art helps strengthen the North’s gallery network.

We have also sustained our investment in Red Eye, the photography network, which provides support and information for photographers and also works in collaboration with other leading photography organisations across the North. 

In literature, we have sustained our investment in Carcanet Press (one of the UK’s three poetry publishers) and in the nationally significant Manchester Literature Festival.

We have increased our support to Comma Press which will further enhance its extremely strong professional development programme for writers, which in turn will have a long term impact on the quantity and quality of writers in the region. 

Similarly in music, we have increased our investment in Psappha, one of the leading contemporary music ensembles in England, to enable them to create more new work and commissions. We have also sustained our investment in The Halle, Manchester Camerata, Manchester Jazz Festival and Inner City Music. 

In dance, we continue to support Dance Manchester. Company Chameleon, one of the only professional dance companies in the North West, joined our group of regularly funded organisations in 2012. We are offering the organisation additional funding to support a new dancer joining the company which will allow them to meet the increased demand for their work. 

We are continuing to support the area’s rich diversity of theatre through Oldham Coliseum, Peshkar Productions, the Octagon Theatre in Bolton, Quarantine, The Met in Bury and Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, as well as M6 Theatre Company in Rochdale which specialises in work for children and young people.

During 2015-18 Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council plans to rebuild the Oldham Coliseum with an earmarked contribution of £5 million from the Arts Council towards a major new arts and heritage centre. 

The resources that the Arts Council has to draw on have been reduced in recent years and in addition there was a gap of £70m between what people applied for nationally and the money that was available to invest in the National portfolio – so we had to make some difficult decisions.

Despite that, the portfolio provides a backbone of strongly performing organisations across the North. Our aim has been to consolidate, to safeguard quality and ambition and to continue to build audiences and participation in challenging economic times.

National portfolio funding and the Major partner museum programme are just two of the ways in which we support arts and culture across the country. We also have a number of other funding streams to support a wide range of cultural activities and to help us achieve our mission of Great art and culture for everyone.

Manchester Art Gallery


Manchester Art Gallery

As example, we have just awarded grants to four organisations in Greater Manchester through our large-scale Capital programme to enable them to improve their facilities and increase their resilience.

These include an award of £998,000 to Islington Mill in Salford (main picture above); an award of £3,851,128 to Contact Theatre in Manchester; an award of £3,000,000 to The Lowry in Salford, and an award of £3,045,400 to The Met in Bury. Contact, The Lowry and The Met will all continue to be supported through the National portfolio prgramme of regular funding. 

Through another of our funding schemes, the Strategic touring programme, we are also supporting The Met to lead a consortium named Smaller Rooms Touring to develop skills and knowledge in music programming and development. 

Our Exceptional awards scheme, with a recent award of £357,600, is enabling The Halle – with partners - to bring the Kinshasa Symphony Orchestra from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the UK in September 2014.

We recently awarded £199,000 from our Renaissance strategic support fund to the Greater Manchester Museums Group so that they could create a new collective identity and brand, and agree a three-year development project. 

We are supporting music education for all children and young people in Greater Manchester through grants totalling £3,222,203 to the Greater Manchester Music Hub and Manchester City Council. 

Our Lottery-funded Grants for the arts programme supports individuals, arts organisations and other people who use the arts in their work. In the two years from 2012-2014 we made 346 awards through this scheme to projects in Greater Manchester, which in terms of investment totalled £6,487,219. 

Alison Clark-Jenkins, the Arts Council’s North Director and National Director for Combined Arts said: "Greater Manchester has a powerful and growing economy and we're pleased that we have been able to contribute to this with a portfolio that's firmly rooted in growth and ambition. As well as key national organisations such as MIF, Royal Exchange and HOME we have been able to provide very clear developmental support for those organisations such as Psappha, Quarantine and Company Chameleon who are driving innovation and excellence in their practice and in wider talent development.

"Although we've had to make some tough decisions, we have increased our investment in Greater Manchester. We're grateful to our local authority partners who have continued to invest in culture when there are such competing demands for their resources, and we look forward to continuing to work with them and other stakeholders on continued development in Greater Manchester."  

The Arts Council works towards a set of goals in its aim of great art and culture for everyone. Through a number of case studies published here, you can read about how in the North we have been achieving against these goals over the last 12 months. 

A full list of all the national portfolio organisations which will be funded in 2015/18 can be found on our website here.

Arty Manchester has a lovely dawnArty Manchester has a lovely dawn

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16 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Simon SmithJuly 1st 2014.

Multi-million pound grants to theatres are wrong when there are so many poor people in Manchester.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 1st 2014.

The quote in the article "in 2013 Manchester International Festival attracted audiences of 250,000 and brought an economic impact of £38 million to the city" highlights the value art & culture can bring to the city, benefitting everyone. Further developing Manchester as a broad tourist hub for everyone (rather than 24hr teenage drinking hole) can have a significant impact on the poor of the city.

AnonymousJuly 1st 2014.

And Anon, for people on a low income, the MIF last year offered a limited number of tickets for Macbeth. For anyone 'saying' that they were on a low income they got to see it for £12 instead of £65. In no way was just having to 'say' you're on a low income open to abuse [and abused] by people on a regular or high income! You see Simon, even 'poor' people can enjoy the arts.

AnonymousJuly 1st 2014.

I could have bet the entire £36,000,000+ that someone would say something like that, Simon. Manchester needs world class theatres and galleries to draw people to the city to spend money that will create jobs so that the poor people will be able to do something to stop them being as poor. Plus culture plays a huge part in the psychological well being of people and a community generally. And did you know that £7 is generated for ever £1 invested in the arts. Damn good return I'd say. Let's have more...

AnonymousJuly 1st 2014.

Do you know how the poor can stop being poor? They can, through education, improve their skills, work ******* hard and pull themselves out of it. I know because that's how I did it. Diverting Arts Council cash to the poor won't solve the problem. Throwing cash at a problem is a short term solution. Educating and upskilling is a far better and sustainable solution.

AnonymousJuly 2nd 2014.

Better parenting is essential in life.

AnonymousJuly 1st 2014.

How are poverty and theatre funding in Manchester connected? You imply an important link, but you don't say what it is. Are you suggesting that funding theatre causes poverty in the city? Or is it that you think that cutting theatre funding would alleviate poverty? (it wouldn't) There are less charitable interpretations that could be made of your statement - like that the poor can't appreciate the arts (obviously not true), or that the poor would rather live in a place with no cultural activities or organisations (seems unlikely), or that theatre itself is somehow bad. I note that you don't mention galleries and museums funding - so do you find theatre funding particularly wrong or is it the arts in general? There are good arguments to be made against all of these claims. But I'd also be interested to know exactly why you think theatre funding wrong, and whether that has some kind of an essential association with poverty levels in Manchester.

Simon TurnerJuly 2nd 2014.

Why does Inner City Music (aka. Band on the Wall) gets Arts Council funding yet so many other live music venues (and promoters) in the city that programme just as imaginatively get no funding?

6 Responses: Reply To This...
Poster BoyJuly 2nd 2014.

The clue is in the name...

Simon TurnerJuly 2nd 2014.

At least some of the money is used to subsidise the operation. staffing and programming of their venue though.

AnonymousJuly 2nd 2014.

Because this venue is a not-for-profit organisation and registered charity- providing education both onsite and in the community as set out in the remit of its original relaunch/redevelopment- bandonthewall.org/…/…. Longer term development hopes to provide recording suites and education facilities for schools and community groups, exactly the kind of thing the Art Council should be supporting; all-an-all it's a very transparent process. This new funding may be a pre-election sop by central government but is ultimately very good news for the city.

Simon TurnerJuly 2nd 2014.

They are advertising 3 things in their education programme this month and two next month, one of which costs £75 to enrol. The rest of the time they book artists and bands that could be playing at other venues, but those other venues aren't given public money.

Vincent DaveJuly 5th 2014.

Why does the Corner house get funding, when there is an AMC cinema and the printworks? why does the Cornerhouse get funding when there is the Palace and the Opera house? - and theatre is rubbish anyway and we can watch TV, why does AND get funding when a festival is just doing stuff that happens anyway but with a fancy flyer, as for art - well thats all bollocks isn't it, a 3 year old could do it...

Simon TurnerJuly 5th 2014.

Your point is?

AnonymousJuly 2nd 2014.

Perhaps those "other" venues haven't applied for it? Either way I'm sure as a Registered Charity they are governed by legislation to ensure that they are delivering on their funding remit. Lose the chip on your shoulder and start bidding if it is such an issue.

AnonymousJuly 2nd 2014.

I am working on a project for an Arts Trail in the Gay Village in August. Also we have a competition for the Molly House Wall for street art where the winner is painted. We hopefully have Arts Council funding. However, the Gay Village has been ignored and never had leaders pioneer it's massively gaping infrastructure and all that it needs to help the area. We have so many talented people coming forward and is an inspiring to fundraise for these projects that require some imagination. When our unit at Piccadilly Place (and their censorship policy) was sold I rang every empty unit (and there's a hell of a lot) and no-one would support or house us for a month. To me it is and will always be unforgivable that area did not get more support from leaders & MCC to develop more than bars in the area. I have been told though by a Cllr, now we have HOME we don't need anything else. Not true. I hope one day with fellow campaigners and businesses support we can create a free and open, not elitist, arts, exhibition, performance, entrepreneurial space for an area that deserves it. There is a great listed building on Richmond Street selling for 500k and if Islington Mill can get (and well done) 1.2 million, we can too!

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