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£500,000 awarded for Aston & Newtown arts projects

Published: Friday, 6th January 2017

Thirteen local arts and community organisations will receive arts grants totalling £500,000 to deliver projects in Aston and Newtown during 2017-18, it was announced today (6 January 2017).

Beneficiaries from these projects will include a wide range of young residents (including early years), budding creative entrepreneurs and producers, and community elders not usually engaged in arts activities.

Following the closure of The Drum in Aston last year, Birmingham City Council worked with Arts Council England and local stakeholders to identify priorities for cultural development in the area and agree match funding - £250,000 from both organisations.

A total of 27 applications were reviewed by city council and Arts Council England officers against agreed funding criteria, before reaching final recommendations on which grants to award to specific projects.

Among the organisations awarded grants were ACE Dance & Music, which will receive £71,197 for a three-strand, 18-month programme developing dance, music and costume skills (including for Birmingham Carnival); Black Arts Forum (awarded £49,040) which will be involved in developing an oral history programme for community elders, to improve wellbeing and bring people together through sharing stories; and 7E Youth Academy which will receive £33,550 to support 30 young emerging artists through access to recording and media facilities.

The grants were split into two streams: the first, to develop participation and engagement in the arts through activities for young people and for older people, co-designed with the community. Newly formed groups could apply for ‘germinator’ grants of £2,000 to £4,000 while established organisations bid for funding between £20,000 and £100,000.

The second strand, to develop opportunities for black and minority ethnic creative entrepreneurs and producers, included an award of £125,000 to Birmingham Hippodrome’s comprehensive training programme (ASTONish), which will support emerging cultural leaders in developing their skills and networks, and a further £25,000 award to Black Arts Forum’s CREATE scheme to help artists, community groups and trustees to develop their skills and networks.  It is intended these programmes will strengthen the local cultural infrastructure for the future.

The Drum closed on 30 June 2016, following the liquidation of Newtown Cultural Projects Ltd.

Cllr Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “I am delighted that, through working with Arts Council England, we’ve been able to award these grants to fund a range of arts projects serving the communities in Aston and Newtown.

“This scheme has the potential to support artists and audiences and to grow organisations for the future, which will diversify the city’s cultural offer and ensure it continues to be relevant to residents.

“I hope this will help build a strong foundation for future arts activity in Aston and Newtown, as well as providing partnership opportunities with other cultural companies, community groups, artists and audiences in the city. I am particularly pleased this will support black and minority ethnic artists, creators and entrepreneurs to develop as cultural leaders in Birmingham.”

This funding - £250,000 Birmingham City Council and £250,000 from Arts Council England - can be spent by the organisations on schemes or projects with immediate effect and into 2017/18.

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “Our ambition at the Arts Council is to make investments that give people opportunities to access art and culture in the places they live, which is why we’ve been working closely with Birmingham City Council on this funding programme for Aston and Newtown.

"It will be great to see these new grants supporting a variety of creative and ambitious projects, which over the coming years, we hope will help shape the future of arts and culture for people locally.”

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