Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fostering a Culture of Adventure in the Arts

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fostering a Culture of Adventure in the Arts

Article excerpt

Byline: By Sam Wonfor

Culture on Tyneside is developing from the grassroots, promising a great future for people growing up here. Sam Wonfor reports.

Communites all over the North-East are growing culture-wise, thanks to a wide range of initiatives designed to open doors to the arts.

Inevitably, it's the buildings which have grabbed the most headlines. But these are nothing without the people who use them - and it is a raft of largely unsung initiatives that may do most to make the region a better place to live.

Outreach projects in schools and local communities are an important element of all the new cultural developments. Already the Baltic and the music centre, The Sage Gateshead, are providing opportunities which didn't exist before.

The Arena Project, based at the Baltic, involves 60 talented students of sixth-form age working with five exceptional young professional artists - with Angel of the North sculptor Antony Gormley, as mentor, supervising the whole thing.

The pounds 224,000 project, devised by the Hexham-based Samling Foundation, is designed to nurture young talent in the region.

It will result in five new pieces of public art - each to be displayed in a North-East `arena' or location - and, perhaps more significantly, 60 youngsters whose eyes have been opened to new opportunities.

As The Sage Gateshead takes stunning shape, its commitment to "lasting change" is already being put into practice through a programme of educational and participatory projects across the region.

Voices of the River's Edge is a two-year music and performance project for people in east Gateshead which will culminate in a festival during The Sage's opening season.

It will be an exhilarating blend of musical elements: singing and brass, music technology and community street bands, poetry and song-writing.

Mari Macdonald, area arts officer for Gateshead, said: "We want the people of Gateshead to feel a kind of ownership of The Sage and to feel proud of the arts in their area.

"People certainly seem to have a newfound interest in the cultural happenings and we will be building on that. …

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