Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

EU's Role in Our Cultural Renaissance Wins Praise

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

EU's Role in Our Cultural Renaissance Wins Praise

Article excerpt

Byline: David Whetstone Culture Editor david.whetstone@ncjmedia.co.uk

CULTURAL leaders and campaigners have put the case for staying in the European Union (EU), arguing that a growing creative economy depends on it.

Ahead of the official opening of Live Works, a new landmark building on Newcastle Quayside, Live Theatre chief executive Jim Beirne said it wouldn't have been possible without European funding.

The building, on a site which no permanent structure has occupied for more than a century, is to provide rented office space to creative businesses while helping to sustain Live Theatre's work.

"Think of this as another three plays a year or two education projects and a play," said Mr Beirne who was giving a guided tour to Jessie Jacobs, North East field director of the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign, and Coun Stephen Powers, Newcastle City Council's cabinet secretary.

Live Works, he said, was an PS11m development project whose funding had included a PS6m long-term loan from the city council, a PS2.1m grant from Europe and another PS2m grant from Arts Council England.

"The city (council) backed us in the knowledge that we would get a chunk of money from Europe because it was all about developing the economy and creating about 120 jobs," he said.

"The whole thing about European support is that it's not really support, it's investment in the GDP (gross domestic product) of a particular place or region."

Mr Beirne said Live Theatre was part of Newcastle Gateshead Cultural Venues (NGCV), an informal grouping of the main venues on Tyneside. "It's a way of working together to save some costs and it works really well.

"With Europe, would you rather be part of a collaboration with your neighbours or stuck out on your own?" He said over the past 15 years or so, there had been "something like PS300m spent on cultural buildings as part of capital regeneration in Newcastle and Gateshead, beginning with the Angel of the North and going on through Baltic, Sage, Millennium Bridge and Theatre Royal".

Live Theatre has bought several neighbouring buildings to sustain its activities and this year, as well as Live Works, is to open Live Tales, a centre dedicated to children's writing and storytelling.

Mr Beirne said: "Over the last 10 years Live Theatre has received 20% of the cost of our developments from European funding, amounting to PS4m out of a total of PS20m.

"This has enabled us to redevelop buildings such as Live Theatre, The Broad Chare (a pub developed with top chef Terry Laybourne) and The Schoolhouse (also let to creative businesses) and build new development Live Works.

"Live Theatre employs 25 people and works with over 500 artists each year. The offices and restaurants employ hundreds of people and 120 people will eventually work in Live Works. …

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