Stockton's Infinity Bridge

Forging a future for culture

03 February 2011

A high level discussion on cultural opportunities and challenges will take place at Darlington Arts Centre today.

Organised by the Association of North East Councils with support from Arts Council England, the event will bring together public, private and voluntary sector leaders from across the North East.

Arts and culture have played a key role in the economic and creative growth of the North East, from major capital investment in arts, culture and heritage, to the focus on festivals and events. In the current environment, there is a risk that both the social and economic impact of arts and culture in the North East may be diminished to such an extent that the value of the previous growth is compromised.

Partners will therefore explore commitments and linkages between one another. They will identify outcomes and approaches for maximising the benefit of current investment and actions which will attract new resources for cultural and economic growth in the North East.

The event will also aim to provide a wider understanding of current government policy, including the implications of the Comprehensive Spending Review on local authorities, business and partners and the wider cultural agenda.

Chaired by Paul Callaghan, Chairman of One North East and the Live Theatre, the
event will feature workshop sessions which will focus on sharing resources - exploring better ways of working, maintaining profile and leadership, and improving linkages between the private sector, arts and local authorities.

Speakers will include George Garlick, Chief Executive of Durham County Council who will provide a North East local authority perspective and Richard Alty, Director of Place at Darlington Borough Council will speak on culture in the town.

Alison Clark-Jenkins, Regional Director at Arts Council England will provide a North East perspective, with a wider national outlook being presented by Richard Russell, Director of Strategic Partnerships.

Cllr David Faulkner, Leader of Newcastle City Council and Vice-chair of the Association of North East Councils, said: "North East councils have a strong role to play in promoting and developing our cultural offer, aimed at enriching the lives of citizens and communities across localities. This event demonstrates that the North East really values and has seen the benefit of investment in arts and culture."

Cllr Ken Lupton, Leader of Stockton Borough Council and Vice-chair of the Association of North East Councils, said: "Working in partnership is crucial. By doing so we are in a better position to plan for growth in arts and culture, rather than just managing decline. Resources may be limited, but a strong and aspirational vision for culture and for the North East can help to unlock them. "

Alison Clark-Jenkins, Regional Director, Arts Council England, said: "It is important that leaders from across the public, private and voluntary sectors are coming together at this time. This is a clear commitment to work in collaboration to ensure that this region continues to attract new resources for cultural and economic growth. It is also significant that we meet in Darlington, where proposed arts funding cuts are being reviewed with a number of new ways of working being explored."

Paul Callaghan, Chairman of One North East and the Live Theatre, said: "The aim of this unique event is to provide leadership for a focused drive to build on existing relationships and activities across the public and private sectors. In turn this will ensure, that together, we can continue to develop and maximise our cultural assets."

For further information please contact Bethan Hughes, Communications Officer, on 0191 261 3917, email