Funding to expand Arts Programme

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Image Clara Lou Photos. Image taken at a previous Big Feast Festival.

Staffordshire’s New Vic Theatre has been awarded an Arts Council England grant to expand the work of award-winning arts programme Appetite.

A grant of £1,750,000 has been awarded to a local consortium, led by New Vic Theatre, as part of Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places programme. Creative People and Places is about more people taking the lead in choosing, creating and taking part in arts experiences in the places where they live. Since 2013, Appetite has been encouraging more people in Stoke-on-Trent to experience and be inspired by the arts. Co-produced with local residents through the Appetite Supper Club, Appetite has engaged over 460,000 people in a programme of distinctive, family-friendly arts events in the city’s parks, town centres, markets, hospitals and more. The programme has featured local, national and international artists and has included The Enchanted Chandelier – a floating concert in the sky over Central Forest Park and Museum of the Moon – an epic lunar installation in the Kings Hall, Stoke.

The new funding will enable the programme to expand its work into the neighbouring borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme over a 4-year period beginning in October 2019. New consortium partners, Newcastle-under-Lyme Business Improvement District (BID), Go Kidsgrove and Keele University will join existing consortium partners New Vic Theatre, Staffordshire University, Partners in Creative Learning and Six Towns Radio to deliver the expanded Appetite programme. Building on a partnership with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Appetite will also work with new strategic partners Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Staffordshire County Council and Aspire Housing to engage local community groups and co-produce a menu of arts events and activities for all people across the Borough, in addition to a continuing programme in Stoke-on-Trent.

Cllr. Mark Holland, Cabinet member for leisure, culture and heritage at Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council said: “The Homecoming events over the last few years have showcased the pinnacle of contemporary circus talent, right here in our town centre – and there has certainly been an appetite for more. It’s fabulous news this unique programme, which engages, educates and entertains our communities, is going to be expanded further in Newcastle-under-Lyme in the next few years, thanks to the funding that’s been secured by the New Vic and our other partners.”

Fiona Wallace, Managing Director at New Vic Theatre, said: “Newcastle-under-Lyme has an amazingly varied creative heritage from being the birthplace of the founder of modern circus to being the home of the New Vic’s unique theatre-in-the-round. We are thrilled we’ll be able to expand the work that has been so successful across neighbouring Stoke-on-Trent and continue to engage more local people in the arts, and reap the economic and social benefits that this investment will bring. Our thanks to Arts Council England for continuing to invest in Appetite and our area to realise this shared goal.”

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Appetite Big Feast 2018. Museum of the Moon tea dance at The Kings Hall Stoke. Image Malcolm Hart.

The activity will supplement Appetite’s continued work engaging residents in Stoke-on-Trent which includes the upcoming Big Feast Festival taking place in Stoke-on-Trent City Centre on 23 and 24 August 2019. It will also build on the partnerships developed between the City and Borough as part of the City of Culture bidding process.

Gemma Thomas, Appetite Director said: “We’re proud to have been able to secure this additional strategic funding from Arts Council England. Our six years working with people in Stoke-on-Trent has proven local people have an appetite for art that is relevant to them and their families. We love working with our partners and local people to come up with events and projects and look forward to doing so with people in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Investment from Arts Council England shows a willingness of funders to invest in places like North Staffordshire. In Stoke-on-Trent we’ve supported artists and community groups to apply for additional funding through Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants and would encourage others to apply for projects across our area. We’re looking forward to expanding our work for the next four years with our Newcastle partners whilst continuing our work in Stoke-on-Trent.”

Councillor Lorraine Beardmore, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “This is such fantastic news. The additional funding will enable more people across Staffordshire to experience and be inspired by culture. I’m delighted that the legacy from our shortlisted bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 continues to inspire people to engage in the arts.”

Planning for the expanded programme will get underway from October 2019 and will see Appetite meeting with community groups and residents from across the Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough to explore what type of arts activities local people would like to see included.