Arts Council’s funding for 2012-2015 announced

The Arts Council has released its list of 695 organisations which are set to replace the Council’s previous “regularly funded organisations” portfolio of 849. 110 of these are new. 206 previously “regularly funded organisations” have had all funding cut. The arts in the UK will have around £2  billion of public money spent on them from 2012 to 2015. There will also be increased Lottery funding in future.

At first glance the changes announced today broadly appear to reflect the Council’s policy shift of the last few years, away from non-crafts visual arts and print-based literary arts and toward dance and performance. Touring theatre and performance festivals have overall done well throughout the West Midlands, reflecting the Council’s strong emphasis for 2012 to 2015 on touring theatre and dance groups with a base in Birmingham. Fierce! Festival, Geese Theatre, Ace Dance and Music, Black Country Touring, Birmingham Dancefest, Live & Local, and Stan’s Cafe, among others, all see increases in funding. Nofit State Community Circus becomes a new RFO for the West Midlands. Possibly some of this new/increased activity may reach North Staffordshire.

No mention on the new list of North Staffordshire organisations B Arts (community arts, formerly Beaver Arts), and Rideout (prison arts).

The New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme has its grant cut by -11%

The Buxton Arts Festival gets an increase of +3%, but the Buxton Opera House is cut by -10%

Cheshire Dance is cut by -11%, but Cheshire Rural Touring (theatre) is increased by +77.9%

DASH in Shropshire (disability arts) sees its funding cut by -38.8%

Arvon Foundation (runs a commercial residential writing centre in Shropshire) is increased by +61.7%

High Peak Community Arts is cut by -11%

The Derby Quad (major new arts centre) gets a +3% increase.

Multistory in West Bromwich (community arts) is cut by -43.9%

Rhubarb Rhubarb in Birmingham (for photographers) is cut by -21.9%, but Manchester’s Redeye Network (also for photographers) gets an increase of +41.8%. No mention on the new list of the Hereford Photography Festival down at the other end of the West Midlands.

Writing West Midlands (the Birmingham Book Festival) becomes a regularly funded organisation — it will get £552,000 during 2012-2015 (around £180,000 a year).

Wolverhampton Arts and Museums Service has had funding increased by +73.3%, and this appears to be destined for Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

No mention of Foursight Theatre (women’s theatre) in Wolverhampton.

No mention on the new list of the strategic Midlands-wide organisations Designer Maker West Midlands, or Birmingham’s Vivid (new-tech arts).


Added to Creative Stoke, 29th March 2011 (part two)

The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery has two new websites that are now live — Staffordshire Gifts and Staffordshire Reprints. These aim is to open up the museum collections, and offer new opportunities to sell unique gifts, prints of works in the collection, and local memorabilia online. There will be a formal launch and buffet lunch at the Museum on Thursday.

The Staffordshire Reprints website allows members of the public to buy individual prints of selected visual works. This joins the Museum’s existing Staffordshire Images website for commercial licensing of pictures. An art-quality reproduction print of Samuel Palmer’s magnificent late etching The Early Ploughman at A3 size, mounted and framed, would cost £125 — about a tenth of the price of buying an original (and much smaller, due to the technical limitations of the time) copy of the same etching at auction.

Above: The ironically titled “Brotherhood of Man” by John Maler Collier, depicting a leftist group planning a bomb attack. Acquired by the Museum in 1936, and now a centre-piece of the oil painting collection. Available as a print.

Added to the Directory:  The North Staffordshire Press, based at the Business Village in Staffordshire University, plans to publish and distribute a new poetry broadsheet for North Staffordshire. Fade will be produced monthly, on a single-sheet of A4, and has an accompanying blog. Limited copies will also be available from local libraries and bookshops in North Staffordshire. Fade is now accepting submissions, from the 29th of March to the 20th of April 2011. The first issue is due out on the 2nd of May 2011, both in print and for download from the blog.

Commission:  Can anyone in Stoke-on-Trent make a special one-off custom Toby Jug? Jonathan Riches, senior account manager of Streamcore in France, has contacted Creative Stoke about the possibility of making such a jug. It’s needed as a trophy for a memorial game, in honour of his friend who died in an avalanche last year. Ideally the jug would have a stylised caricature of his face. If you can do it, then please send some pictures of your work or your website address, to:

Added to Creative Stoke, 29th March 2011

Added to the Directory:  The government has today helped to launch a new StartUp Britain website. StartUp Britain is a not-for-profit company and is not funded by the government. Entrepreneurs setting up a new businesses in the UK can access £1,500 worth of support via the website. The package of assistance includes free services from the likes of AXA, Barclays, Experian, Google, Intel, Microsoft, McKinsey & Company, O2 and Virgin Media. Many other leading firms have agreed to provide free desk-space, marketing, and advertising to new start-ups. In addition Supper Club members — all of whom run growing and innovative companies that are “beyond start-up phase” and with annual revenues of at least £1m — will commit 1,000 hours of mentoring time to suitable businesses. Even school kids who want to develop their business skills can qualify for new £10 micro-loans, helping them set up their own playground business or other enterprises.

Job:  The Ambassador Theatre Group requires an experienced and talented part-time Creative Learning Manager for The Regent Theatre and The Victoria Hall, Stoke-on-Trent. Application deadline: 8th April 2011. Full details from the website or contact Patricia Crowther at:

Job:  The Arts Council requires a Senior Manager of Regional Arts Planning, based in Nottingham and covering the East Midlands. Application deadline: 11th April 2011.

The Mitchell Memorial Theatre in Hanley is re-opening soon as the Mitchell Arts Centre, after a major refurbishment. The Theatre has five spaces available for creative industries firms, and is now inviting expressions of interest for office space or hire of the venue. Interested? Contact:

Added to the Directory: Martin Kaluza is a Stoke-on-Trent photographer who specialises in golf pictures of courses and players. Martin graduated with a B.A. (Hons) Media Production degree from Staffordshire University.

Contemporary 3D artists and designer/makers are invited to take a selling slot at a three-day event at Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Museum and Art Gallery. By Me! Contemporary Craft Fair will run from Saturday 28th May to 30th May 2011, and the cost for each seller will be £50. Limited tables are available but artists may bring their own. Deadline for applications will be 23rd April 2011. For more information, or to apply for a space at By Me!, please send in five images of your work (or a link to your website or Flickr set), and an artist’s statement to:

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Museum and Art Gallery is looking for artists and designer/makers to display their work in their new window-display area titled “Home Made”. This area will showcase an eclectic mix of handmade items for the home, and will concentrate on quality handmade home-ware and decorative items. Work will be displayed for a minimum of six months. Artists are responsible for delivery and collection of work. The Museum and Art Gallery charges 25% commission plus VAT. Deadline for entries is ongoing, but some work needs to be selected by 23rd April 2011. For more information, or to apply to display your work in ‘Home Made’, please send in five images of your work (or link to your website or Flickr set), and an artist’s statement. Please also specify prices / price ranges for your work, so they can select a range of work to suit all budgets. Send to:

Added to Creative Stoke, 26th March 2011

Congratulations to All The Young, a Stoke band who are reported to be on the verge of signing a six-album contract with Warner Brothers Records.

The Guardian newspaper has put a figure of £2.50 on the entrance-charges that the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery is considering introducing from July 2011, due to a planned £74,000 funding cut set to be made by Stoke-on-Trent City Council. The likelihood of charges was reported in the local press in November 2010.

Consall Forge Pottery will have Open Studio days on 4th-8th May 2011. The Pottery is located at Wetley Rocks, in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

The Stoke-on-Trent writers’ group City Voices has a new website. They’re also set to hold the City Voices Charity Words and Music Festival 2011 (15th May 2011, 4pm-10pm), with all proceeds going to the North Staffordshire Kidney Patients Association. Full details at the website.

With a massive baby-boom happening across the UK, it’s timely that The Exchange artists’ shop in Hanley will be holding a special “Celebrating Pregnancy” Life Drawing Class on 5th April 2011 (7pm-9pm). Posing for artists will be a female life-model in the late stages of pregnancy, showing a marvellous “baby bump”. More details at the website.

Accomplished portraitist Behjat Omer Abdulla is set to hold a free workshop at The Exchange artists’ shop in Hanley, on 9th April 2011 (1.30pm–4.30pm). Only ten places are available and booking is essential…

“This workshop provides a unique opportunity to take part in innovative and inspirational self-portrait drawing session. It is a contemporary take on traditional drawing techniques using a camera as a tool to create self-portrait with ideas and concepts inspired by your own ID card photos. Participants will have the opportunity to learn observational drawing skills and experiment with a variety of media. They will have the chance to draw their own ID-style photos that are to be taken on the day and provided at the start of the workshop. The drawing will reproduce the photo but also use imaginative ways to restructure the work. Participants will learn to work with Graphite Powder, on high quality paper, hand made brushes, props, and with a range of drawing materials/techniques to make inspired drawings and gain insight into this specific technique. All levels of ability are welcome. Materials are provided but you can bring any additional materials that you wish to use.”

Above: Behjat Omer Abdulla’s drawing, for the SHOP artists’ shop, Stoke town in Aug 2010. Spode factory site in background/reflection.

The Contemporary Art Society is to hold a “Developing the Market for Contemporary Art” day on 16th May 2011 (10am-4pm) in Birmingham city centre…

“Invited guest speakers will represent a range of key contemporary art world stake holders including: private collectors, artists and those involved in selling artworks at fairs, as well as through museum print programmes and galleries, to speak about the topic and consider how the market is developed at various levels. There will be a combination of presentations to all attendees which will be followed in the afternoon by collectors “in conversation” in addition to several workshops.”

The Stoke-on-Trent vampire series Blood and Bone China require extras for the grand finale, which is still to be filmed. “Do you want to be a vampire or a human? Must be able to supply your own Victorian costume.” More information from:

Your editor has a complete round-up of all the Budget measures relevant to the arts and creative industries, plus a similar selection of details and further announcements made in the supporting 128-page Plan for Growth document.

Budget summary, just the parts relevant to the arts, digital and creative industries

Just those parts of today’s Budget that are relevant to arts, creatives and the creative industries. First from the speech in the Commons, and then from the 128-page supporting Plan for Growth document…

Commons speech:

* “a moratorium exempting all businesses employing fewer than ten people – and all genuine start-ups – from new domestic [UK business] regulation [and this will last] for the next three years.”

* “we have agreed with the banks a 15 per cent increase in the availability of credit to small businesses.”

* “Enterprise Investment Scheme. […] From April this year, income tax relief [for investors using this scheme] will increase from 20 per cent to 30 per cent. [and] Next year we will double the amount that any individual can invest through the EIS, increase the size of company that can qualify for investment – and raise the limit on the amount that can be invested in a company by 400 per cent.”

* “From 6 April this year I am doubling the size of Entrepreneurs Relief to £10 million.”

* “the current rate relief holiday for small businesses [was due to] end in October this year. [but] I will extend the rate holiday for small businesses for another year – to October 2012.”

* “From April this year the small companies Research and Development Tax Credit will rise to 200 per cent – and from next year it will rise again to 225 per cent.”

* “We also want to encourage manufacturers to invest in the latest machinery and technology. So I propose to double the limit on the capital allowances for short life assets from four years to eight years.”

* “the allowance for the renovation of business premises in assisted areas – which was due to expire next year – we will extend for a further five years.”

* “the new Enterprise Zones we launch today. [in which] Businesses will get up to 100 per cent discount on rates, new superfast broadband and the potential to use enhanced capital allowances in zones where there is a strong focus on manufacturing.” “[these will initially be in] Birmingham and Solihull; The Black Country; Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire;” […] A further ten Enterprise Zones will be announced in the summer.”

* “The Government is committed to funding new University Technical Colleges which will provide 11-19 year olds with vocational training that is among the best in the world.” […] “To date the Government has announced that it will fund 12 new University Technical Colleges. I can tell the House we will provide funding to double that number to at least 24.”

* “[Youth Apprenticeships raised] to 100,000 places over the next two years. [including] 10,000 more higher level apprenticeships”

* “…dramatically simplify the administration of Gift Aid. Instead of asking charities to submit a written record of every donation made, we will by 2013 pay for a much easier online system.” […] “The Gift Aid benefit [to donors] limits will be increased from £500 to £2,500 so that charities and museums can say thank you properly.”

* “We will consult in the coming year on how to encourage the donations of pre-eminent works of art and historical objects to our nation in return for a tax deduction.”

* “we will introduce from April next year this major change to our inheritance tax system. If you leave 10 per cent or more of your estate to charity, then the Government will take 10 per cent off your inheritance tax rate. Let’s be clear. No beneficiaries will be better off. Just the charities. To the tune of £300 million.”

* “We will introduce a new scheme where Gift Aid can be claimed on small donations, up to a total of £5,000 a year per charity, without the need for donors to fill in any forms at all. […] 100,000 charities will benefit to the tune of £240 million.”

* from April next year the personal tax allowance will increase […] to £8,105. […] And [I] set this country the goal that no one earning less than £10,000 should be caught in the income tax net.” [this is likely to be useful to many creatives who work part-time]

Plan for Growth:

And here are further details / additional announcements snipped from the supporting 128-page document Plan for Growth

* “The Government will reduce the licensing burdens for live music, which will include small music venues. […] The Government will also bring forward proposals to reduce licensing burdens on other forms of entertainment such as theatre, cinema and indoor sport, and expects to make changes by the end of the year.”

* R&D tax credits and the Enterprise Investment Scheme will be available to the British film industry [no mention of the videogames industry in this respect].

* “The Government will support the establishment by industry of a Creative Industries Council, which can provide a voice for the sector with the financial community and coordinate action on barriers to growth.”

* “expand ‘flexible’ advanced and higher apprenticeships which suit the freelance business models often seen in the digital and creative industries, and will provide new grant funding for [such] SMEs delivering advanced and higher apprenticeships.”

* encourage universities and business to create free-floating business modules for university students in the [digital and creative industries] sector, so that they get the business skills they need alongside technical and creative skills.

* “modernise the system of copyright licensing to minimise the transaction costs that inhibit innovation and growth, and a proposal to enable access to orphan works.” […] “implement as soon as practicable those [proposals on this topic] which will demonstrably contribute to future growth.”

* “Digital and Creative Industries are likely to particularly benefit from this new [higher apprenticeships] funding, given the high number of SMEs in this sector, and the capacity within the industry to generate higher level apprenticeships.”

* “a new £75 million programme of targeted support to help smaller employers access Advanced Level and Higher Apprenticeships. […] covering some of the costs associated with setting up new training frameworks and putting in place training arrangements with other businesses, including large companies in the supply chain.”

* “Removing barriers to cross-border online retailing in the EU single market is a Government priority. To increase cross-border trade the Government is committed to addressing the uneven application of the E-Commerce Directive”

* a passing reference to digital and creative industries as a “priority growth sector” (page 102)

* “The major UK banks will make £190 billion of new credit available to businesses in 2011, of which £76 billion will be available specifically for SMEs.”

* “measures to open up public procurement to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) […] an ambition for 25 per cent of total government contracts to be delivered by SMEs”

* “eliminating Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQs) for all central government procurements under £100,000”

* “The Government has encouraged business angels (high net worth individuals that invest in local businesses) and the Government’s SME investment arm, Capital for Enterprise Ltd, to put together a bid to the Regional Growth Fund for a Business Angel Co-investment Fund. If successful, this will support Angel investments into high growth potential early stage SMEs, particularly in areas most affected by public spending cuts.”

* [Enterprise Zones to have] “lower taxes and low levels of regulation and planning controls”

* a 100 per cent business rate discount worth up to £275,000 over a five year period for businesses that move into an EZ [Enterprise Zone] during the course of this Parliament […] the returns from EZ growth [to be] reinvested locally; [and, with Enterprise Zones] the Government is seeking to support real growth opportunities, not remedy local dereliction.”

* [government to provide] “companies with local intelligence on high value projects overseas and intensive support to win these deals [via a] a network of attaches covering the key global markets […] significantly increasing the level of support to IP-intensive businesses to ensure they can exploit their IP domestically and overseas” […] deliver a new package of support through UKTI to help SMEs with an ambition to break into overseas markets” […] extend the range and eligibility of products offered by the Export Credits Guarantee Department” […] “There is evidence that UK businesses sometimes find it difficult to control the use of their IP [intellectual property, copyrights etc] overseas. The new IP attaches will focus on promoting and protecting UK business interests”

* “The Government is launching the Export Enterprise Finance Guarantee (ExEFG) and promoting its use to SMEs.”

* “all regulations identified as burdensome [on small businesses] would be removed unless good reasons are given for them to stay;”

* “Government will roll out a network of Business Coaching for Growth services across England from January 2012. This initiative will target SMEs with the potential to achieve rapid and significant growth […] It will target up to 10,000 businesses per year and go live from January 2012”

* “taking action to constrain ‘no-win, no-fee’ legal services”. [which have led to some absurd “health and safely” paranoia, especially in the public-funded arts]

* “fund nine new university-based Centres for Innovative Manufacturing by 2012;” [potentially benefiting the ceramics industry in Stoke-on-Trent, if one can be sited here? Although the aim is to help “to open up new industries and markets in growth areas” in high-tech opportunities, rather than support existing manufacturing output.]

* “an accelerated launch of the new enhanced Manufacturing Advisory Service with an additional £7 million to deliver its services over the next 3 years [again, this seems likely to be of interest to our ceramics industry] “The Government has [already] committed £50 million over three years from April 2012 to provide an enhanced service through MAS, tailored to suit the needs of the individual business and the local economic environment.”

Added to Creative Stoke, 21st March 2011

Great news! The Exchange artists’ shop in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, will now be open until July 2011. Formerly, this project was due to have ended in April 2011.

Part three of the Stoke-on-Trent series Blood & Bone China is now available for free viewing online.

Added to the Directory:  Claire Atherton, writer and poet, actress and crew.

Added to the Directory:  Pingoart offers a ‘photos onto canvas’ service.

Added to the Directory:  Soniq Studios, now based in a prominent shop in the centre of Hanley (was formerly Studio Q at the hard-to-find Queensberry Youth Centre, Normacot).

Added to the Directory:  The drawings and poems of John Creber of Cheddleton (just south of Leek).

“Cheddleton in Winter” by John Creber.

Staffordshire Libraries now have a short-list online for Staffordshire Library Service’s Young Teen Fiction Award, and are inviting readers aged between 11-14 to vote for the winner.

Added to Creative Stoke, 20th March 2011

Added to the Directory:  Yellowstone Art is a new boutique-style art gallery based at Trentham Gardens in Stoke-on-Trent. Run by Fine Arts graduate Hannah Stoney, of Stone, this new selling gallery will include a monthly showcase for emerging artists. An online version of the shop is due soon, but the gallery at Trentham is open now.

The Photographers’ Collective North Staffordshire is now curating the top-floor gallery space at the Burslem School of Art, Stoke-on-Trent, and they are calling for volunteers who would be interested in helping to build up the space as a regional photography venue. Contact them via the Facebook page.

Top gallery at the Burslem School of Art at the launch evening for ‘Green’, March 2011. Click on picture for a larger version.

Added to the Directory:  Hurrikane Management, a music management and promotion service based in Stoke-on-Trent, started in August 2010.

Added to the Directory:  Audio Mill, a Staffordshire audio-production service.

Added to the Directory:  Inspire Music provides professional music lessons in Stone, Staffordshire.

Added to the Directory:  Greenway Music, based in Alsager. Musical instrument tuition, live music for events, and recording facilities.

Added to the Directory:  Room in the Roof Writers’ Group meets in the Burslem School of Art. There is apparently also a Stoke-on-Trent Stanza Group, of North Staffs poets who meet monthly in the Leopard pub at Burslem (no further details or web presence for this group).