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.
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
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.
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