Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Vision Can Be Realised by Working Together; Appointed Chief Executive of Arts Council England in December, DARREN HENLEY Has since Travelled around the Country to See the Arts in Action. Here He Reports on His North East Findings and Explains His Vision for the Future

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Vision Can Be Realised by Working Together; Appointed Chief Executive of Arts Council England in December, DARREN HENLEY Has since Travelled around the Country to See the Arts in Action. Here He Reports on His North East Findings and Explains His Vision for the Future

Article excerpt

Byline: DARREN HENLEY

By the time I clock up my first 100 days in my new job as chief executive of Arts Council England, I will have travelled the country from Cornwall to Cumbria, meeting arts organisations, cultural institutions and local authorities.

I have enjoyed visiting and experiencing first hand some of the cultural organisations and events here in the North East, including a poetry reading by Simon Armitage at the Hexham Book Festival, a tour of Newcastle Library and of the National Glass Centre in Sunderland. I've also valued getting to spend some time with my colleagues who are based here in our office in Newcastle.

I've revelled in the quality of artistic work in England; in the richness of our museums and collections and the imaginative use of our libraries. I've seen the transformation that the arts can bring to our schools; to our villages, towns and cities.

I'm excited to think about what the Arts Council can do to help rejuvenate more communities, support more ambition to secure the quality and originality of our national art and culture.

Good things don't happen by accident; they happen because people share a vision and work together to make that a reality.

The North East is noted for the way it has achieved physical regeneration through a cultural renaissance. Landmark projects in Newcastle Gateshead such as the Sage (undoubtedly one of the UK's most exciting music venues), Northern Stage theatre and the Baltic art gallery have given the North East a national and international reputation as a cultural centre.

Elsewhere in the region other landmark projects - such as mima, the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, and the National Glass Centre - show that successful regeneration through culture is continuing, and is having an effect beyond the banks of the Tyne And across the North East we've worked with the region's leaders and its people to help the arts and cultural sector thrive and to help create the conditions for talent and ambition to flourish.

Bloodaxe Books, which publishes Turn to Page 18 From Page 17 poetry in English from across the world, and Live Theatre champion writers from the North East.

Their support has seen, for instance, Lee Hall develop an international reputation as a playwright (most widely associated now with Billy Elliot and with The Pitmen Painters which opened on Broadway after its run at the National Theatre). More recent projects include Theatre Hullabaloo's development of a children's theatre in Darlington, which is due to open in spring 2017, and the announcement last week that Tyneside Cinema will lead the Random Acts Network Centre in the North - a new initiative to develop young people's creative talent - in which we're investing PS600,000.

The North East has also witnessed a growth of nationally significant events and festivals which the Arts Council has been proud to support, such as Lumiere in Durham, the Festival of Thrift in Darlington, Stockton International Riverside Festival and the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition which in 2013 received around 100,000 visitors.

The opening of the Business and IP Centre in the Newcastle City Library is contributing to business start-ups, growth and innovation in the region.

At the Arts Council we want to see this work, and our support of it, repeated in more towns and cities across England.

We are making a promise, that by 2018 at least 75% of our National Lottery money will be invested outside of London.

This is a signifi-cant acceleration in our investment outside the capital at a time when funds are tight.

It's an important step forward in making sure that we have the best possible distribution of arts funding across the nation.

There won't be a one-size-fits-all approach. We'll do it in ways that suit each area, using our local knowledge and building on what is already happening with our current investment and support. …

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