Arts Council England area director on why Norfolk is receiving £17m in funding

Rear View performance for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2017. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Rear View performance for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2017. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

Hedley Swain, South East area director for Arts Council England, the national body responsible for championing and developing art and culture, on why Norfolk is receiving £17 million from the organisation in National Portfolio Organisation funding.

Hedley Swain, area director for Arts Council England in the south east, Photo: Philippa Gedge

Hedley Swain, area director for Arts Council England in the south east, Photo: Philippa Gedge - Credit: Philippa Gedge

Each May, the Norfolk & Norwich Festival transforms this city and county into a magical and inspirational place to be. It is fantastic to have one of the UK's oldest surviving arts festivals in the East of England, one that has now also established itself as one of the country's largest multi-art form festival – attracting thousands of people each year to the region.

Whether it is for a piece of theatre staged on a double-decker bus travelling through Norwich, or a giant moon installation with lunar-inspired music on surround sound - Norfolk and Norwich Festival has the power to bring together people of all ages for a shared experience, one that can have a positive and lasting impact.

We know that participation in art and culture has many benefits; bringing fulfilment and happiness, promoting greater understanding of others and empathy, and supporting our mental and physical health and wellbeing.

Art and culture are also an essential part of our personal development, something that is really important for children and young people. They can also bring education to life, giving people the chance to shine and promote a deeper sense of community – one that transcends traditional societal barriers.

Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2017. Seshni Mohammed and her daughter Samia take a photo at the Museu

Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2017. Seshni Mohammed and her daughter Samia take a photo at the Museum of the Moon at The Forum. Photo: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan


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And proper investment in art and culture helps generate jobs, rejuvenate town centres and attract new businesses - it's been shown that investment in arts and culture repays itself many times over.

The Arts Council's National Portfolio 2018-2022 aims to encourage and demonstrate just that. Our announcement on 27 June unveiled a substantial £17m investment in Norfolk's art and culture scene.

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From the iconic Norwich Castle and Cromer Museum to the contemporary Out There Festival and Seachange Arts, our funding will support organisations that bring great art and culture to everyone and really make a difference through their work.

As the national body responsible for championing and developing art and culture, I'm delighted that we're building on the outstanding cultural variety of the county as part of a bold vision for the whole of England.

Norfolk has a key group of forward-thinking local organisations involved in making decisions, sharing resources and getting the best value out of every pound spent. We have a very strong relationship with the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Norfolk County Council, and the production of a cultural strategy for the area enables the county to showcase its clear sense of cultural identity and creative vibrancy.

So, it gives me great pleasure to tell you how we plan to support art and culture in your community.

One of our biggest investments in Norfolk over the next four years will be in Norfolk Museums Service which has already developed exemplar education and outreach services for children, young people and adults.

The likes of the Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth, Cromer Museum and the historic Norwich Castle will be among 10 museums and a study centre which will benefit from the £6.5m worth of funding between 2018-2022. The money will help the Service to continue its high performing and award-winning role in safeguarding its collections and assets and engaging people, from near and far, with them.

It already plays a key national role across the sector leading on workforce diversification, but with an increase of Arts Council funding, the Service continue its work as a Museum Development Provider, giving advice and support to museums across the East of England so that they can maximise their benefits to audiences and communities.

Almost £2m will be given to the Writers' Centre Norwich, which was the first city in England to be awarded 'World City of Literature' status by UNESCO. The organisation curates local, national and international programmes on contemporary writing and literature development.

I'm also very pleased to announce funding to both Norwich and Norfolk Festival (£3.2m) and Seachange Arts (£1.56m). The latter is an independent arts development charity dedicated to delivering outstanding circus and street arts events inspired by Great Yarmouth's rich performance heritage – a place I've visited and experienced various wonderful forms of art and culture.

In addition to all of this amazing art and culture activity, Norfolk is home to one of 10 Arts Council-funded 'bridge' organisations, (Norfolk and Norwich Festival Trust's other role and being awarded an additional £2m) which aim to connect the cultural sector and the education sector so that children and young people can have access to great arts and cultural opportunities.

With such a dedicated, talented stream of organisations and individuals throughout Norfolk being empowered and enabled by the Arts Council's funding, I have no doubt that the county will work together to ensure that more and more people have access to this unique, eclectic mix of art and culture and experience the benefit of it in their lives.

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