Thursday, 26 November 2015

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Major cash injection for arts in Cumbria

The arts in Cumbria has been given a major financial boost.

Kate Parry photo
Kate Parry

The Kirkgate Centre in Cockermouth has been awarded £850,000 by Arts Council England (ACE), while annual funding for other organisations across the county is either being sustained or increased.

For the Kirkgate Centre, which has been operating for nearly 20 years, this is a significant step towards the £2 million re-development and modernisation of the building. General manager Kate Parry said: “We are delighted that the Arts Council has supported our plans for the Kirkgate in such a significant way and this decision has given us all a massive boost.

“It is a major vote of confidence in our vision for the centre and we hope it will unlock funding support from other sources.”

Increased funding will also be given to Eden Arts and Grizedale Arts between 2015 and 2018 of £300,000 and £593,079 respectively.

With the additional funding Eden Arts hopes to develop its popular Winter Droving event, while Grizedale Arts will use its additional funding to redefine its art school in a partnership with the Ruskin Museum and the village institute. Elsewhere, ACE revealed that the Theatre by the Lake, in Keswick, will continue to receive £604,067 per year until 2018.

Patric Gilchrist, executive director, said the theatre was pleased with the announcement and grateful for the support, but is also aware that arts funding is not immune from Government spending cuts.

“This cash standstill actually means a cut in funding every year as inflation erodes the value of the grant,” he explained.

“We’re doing our best to keep producing high-quality work, but having less and less money to do that is a challenge.”

On top of the Kirkgate Centre’s capital grant, west Cumbria’s rural touring arts programme Arts Out West – run by Kirkgate Arts which also operates the Kirkgate Centre – will receive funding of £120,000 over three years from 2015.

Artistic manager Caroline Aston said: “This is great news for west Cumbria and we are so pleased that our local communities will continue to benefit from having professional shows right on their doorsteps.”

Other organisations that will continue to receive funding across the county are Highlights Rural Touring Network, Lakeland Arts Trust, Octopus, Prism Arts, Rosehill Theatre, Ashton Theatre Group, and Kendal’s Brewery Arts Centre.

These investments are expected to enhance Cumbria’s attraction as a tourism destination with a cultural twist.


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