Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We've Come a Very Long Way from the Dog Track

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We've Come a Very Long Way from the Dog Track

Article excerpt

Byline: By Sue Wilson

I would love to be able to play an instrument but, despite coming from a family of musicians and owning a grand piano, I am tone deaf.

And although my walls are covered in paintings my own attempts to draw are doomed to failure. But like many of the North-East business community I relish an opportunity to go to an arts reception and hear about creative activity taking place in the region.

For some years now I have sat on the North- East's Arts & Business New Partners Panel, with my business background to offer rather than any artistic integrity, and, for that reason, I found myself at an event to celebrate successful partnerships held at Newcastle's Discovery Museum last week.

David Faulkner, the director of the Sponsors Club for Arts & Business welcomed us. Wearing a broad smile and a psychedelic tie, David can get away with the feeblest of jokes (I particularly remember one about a policeman wearing a flamboyant jacket which was just a routine check) and has been a driving force in the North-East arts and corporate world for a number of years.

When he retires from the Sponsors Club at the end of this month he will be a big miss although I expect him to resurface wearing a different hat (though still the psychedelic tie.)

With the full complement of Young Sinfonia strings playing their hearts out we were treated to an impressive resume of award-winning projects made possible by the collaboration of arts organisations and businesses and supported by the Arts & Business investment programme. Hilary Armstrong, MP, presented the awards while urging the region to stay at the forefront of arts-business partnerships.

The programme has been funded by the Department of Culture Media and Sport for the past three years and, unusually, the North-East has done very well out of it with three-quarters of a million pounds in grants drawing in over pounds 2m of business investment even though we are blessed with few large corporate headquarters in the region.

Most businesses want to increase their profile, stimulate the region's arts economy and fulfil their corporate social responsibility by becoming involved with the local community. But for many it also goes deeper than that. Bringing art into the workplace can stimulate creativity and be used to assist new thinking and team building. Over 85pc of the businesses who had used the scheme felt it had been important in encouraging them to try something new and 80pc continued their relationship with their arts organisation after the New Partners investment.

Whether it is Hanro helping with improvements to a poetry venue, the city wall's Morden Tower, and supporting a poetry commission or Nigel Wright engaging a group of artists through the Biscuit Factory to interpret an apple or Greggs sponsoring six short films both here and in Estonia, the involvement of their staff will have lasting benefits. …

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