Huge funding boost for Norfolk and Suffolk’s cultural scene

PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 February 2016

Writers' Centre Norwich is based at Dragon Hall. Photo: Joanna Millington.

Writers' Centre Norwich is based at Dragon Hall. Photo: Joanna Millington.

Joanna Millington

The region’s cultural scene has received a huge boost with news of £500,000 of funding being awarded from Arts Council England.

Norwich Theatre Royal is one of the many arts organisations in Norfolk's rich cultural scene. Photo: supplied.Norwich Theatre Royal is one of the many arts organisations in Norfolk's rich cultural scene. Photo: supplied.

The money marks the first step for an ambitious project to support creative enterprises in Norfolk and Suffolk and to grow the cultural economy. It is hoped it will be match-funding for an application made to the European Regional Development Fund for £604,895.

Norfolk County Council, Suffolk County Council and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership Cultural Board are working together on the project – called Building the Cultural Economy in Norfolk and Suffolk – which they hope to deliver from January 2017.

The proposed programme will focus on growing the number of creative enterprises across the arts by working to develop cross-sector partnerships, competitiveness among small and medium-sized enterprises, business support, workforce diversity and innovation and enterprise.

Paul Smyth, chairman of the communities committee at Norfolk County Council, said: “Norfolk County Council is delighted to have been awarded this major Arts Council England funding which puts us in a strong position to draw down equivalent European funds. This will enable us, in partnership with Suffolk County Council and the New Anglia LEP Cultural Board, to develop an ambitious business development programme which will significantly strength-en our cultural sector, placing it at the heart of economic growth in the region.”

Helen Wilson, chairman of the New Anglia LEP Cultural Board, said she was “absolutely thrilled” the funding could help grow Suffolk and Norfolk’s “rich network of cultural organisations.”

Sarah Stamp, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for communities said: “Getting national recognition for and vital investment in both counties’ innovative plans will continue to cement the strong partnerships already established between Norfolk and Suffolk’s cultural sectors.”

Key figures in the arts scene, who are also New Anglia LEP Cultural Board members, also welcomed the news. Writers’ Centre Norwich chief executive Chris Gribble said: “This is fantastic news for the county and creativity in the region. The east is fast becoming a centre of excellence for the creative industries from dance to digital media, to literature and music.”

Peter Wilson, Norwich Theatre Royal’s chief executive, said: “The Theatre Royal, alongside partners from across the two counties, has played its part in landing this significant investment to develop East Anglia’s cultural offer, and congratulates the county councils and the LEP. We have always believed organisations are stronger when they act in unison, so we look forward to greater communication and cooperation, together with audience and production development as these funds and others from the EU come on stream.”

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