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Staffordshire projects recognised by Arts Council England

Photo from the British Ceramics Biennial by Joel Chester Fildes

Three projects in Staffordshire have pulled off a major cultural coup by securing funding from Arts Council England.

Groups that are awarded National Portfolio Organisations (NPO) funding stream status have to pass rigorous criteria, demonstrating what they do is among the best in the world.

The total funding for local arts groups from 2018 to 2022 is as follows:

  • Community artist and producers group B-Arts will receive £320,000
  • The British Ceramics Biennial, which showcases pottery and artists in Stoke-on-Trent, will receive £700,000.
  • The New Vic Theatre in Newcastle will receive £2.797m – the same level of funding it received for 2015-2018.

It comes ahead of next week's announcement of the shortlist for the 2021 UK City of Culture title, which Stoke-on-Trent has bid for.

Deputy leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council Abi Brown, who is leading the City of Culture bid, said: “We are delighted to hear that three Stoke-on-Trent arts groups have received the National Portfolio Organisation designation – congratulations to all involved for this success. National Portfolio Organisations represent some of the best arts practice in the world and receive regular funding from Arts Council England.

“The designations are not only great news for the people of the city but they represent another clear sign of the brilliant and diverse art and culture that is made here. It also shows that we provide some of the very best quality cultural activities right here and signals why we believe we are perfectly placed to become UK City of Culture 2021.”

Arts Council England chief executive Darren Henley singled out Stoke-on-Trent for praise as a new area joining the NPO programme, during the launch announcement. He said: “It is exciting that we have new additions to the scheme including Stoke-on-Trent. This is the first time that more than 60 per cent of our investment will take place outside of London, and more new and smaller groups are benefiting, reflecting the diversity of the whole nation. Diversity is our collective strength, it is our best asset.”

Councillor Brown added: “All three organisations have been fantastic ambassadors for our city over the years. B Arts are known for their work with communities, producing a hugely diverse range of work include stunning lanterns, creating the lighting ceremony which launched the Golden sculpture last year, and also their current work on the role of food within culture.

“The BCB has continually raised the bar in ceramic design and art since its inception in 2011, and we are looking forward to another amazing exhibition later this year at the former Spode works – I’d like to encourage as many people as possible to attend.

“The New Vic Theatre not only creates distinctive and creative theatre, but it also nurtures artists and has a huge engagement programme especially among young people. Its forthcoming staging of Around the World in 80 Days is listed by the Guardian as one of the performances of the summer, and its recent adaptation of Anna of the Five Towns has helped to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Stoke-on-Trent’s most celebrated playwright and novelist Arnold Bennett.”

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