Region to share extra funds to level up culture

Almost all parts of the North East are to share in a £75m funding package to level up access to culture in parts of the country that have been under-served in the past, the Department for Culture, Digital, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced today.

Organisations in ten council areas in the region – all but Newcastle and Gateshead – are among 109 ‘Levelling Up for Culture Places’ which will be encouraged to bid for a share of the money, which will be distributed by 2025.

Three of the North East’s ‘Levelling Up for Culture Places’ – County Durham, South Tyneside and all of Tees Valley – were already on Arts Council England’s (ACE) list of Priority Places.

In addition cultural organisations in London will be supported to expand operations beyond the capital so more communities benefit from their work.

And the government will shortly announce the recipients of £48m of funding from the latest round of its Cultural Investment Fund, said ACE. This will go to more than 50 organisations, the majority of which will be outside London. Libraries, museums and creative projects in areas in need of levelling up would benefit, said ACE, with a further £150m to be invested from the Fund over the coming three years.

The DCMS said: ‘Access to arts and culture across the country will be transformed with plans to increase and better distribute funding for the sector to previously overlooked or neglected areas.

‘The aim is to generate more opportunities for people in the regions, with more arts jobs on offer and better access to cultural activities so people do not have to travel as far to see world-class arts’.

The Department added: ‘Cultural investment by the government via ACE is expected to rise to almost £250m by 2025 across England outside London. This is the equivalent to a 19% increase.

‘ACE will oversee the distribution of the funds which will support new and established thriving arts organisations in the regions so people can enjoy activities in their area.

‘The move comes after the government set out a commitment to raise cultural spending significantly outside of the capital in its Levelling Up White Paper. It is part of plans to level up people’s opportunity to experience the benefits of culture – from seeing performances to taking part in activities’.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: ‘I have said from day one in this role my priority is to increase access to arts and culture across the whole country. Today marks a big step in achieving this aim as we shift new cultural investment into places previously at the back of the queue.

‘Culture enriches people’s lives. It entertains us, brings us together and can be a catalyst for regeneration. Everyone should have access to it no matter where they live or what their background’.