North East Culture Partnership (NECP) celebrates a ground-breaking Annual Forum and in response issues a series of future commitments to progress positive change in the region.
As a voice for the culture and heritage sector in the North East of England, we organise a range of public events to share information and views from across in the region, stimulating debate and feeding into our work on refreshing the Case for Culture – the guiding document behind our work, launched in June 2015, and due to be refreshed and relaunched during 2021.
The largest event is our Annual Forum, which in January 2021 offered a platform to a more diverse range of independent practitioners and small cultural organisations than at previous events. The title Shifting Cultures reflected an emphasis on change – both as the result of recent events such as the pandemic, Brexit and global movements like Black Lives Matter, but also the change that needs to happen to rebalance our sector in the future.
Working for the first time with GIFT (Gateshead International Festival of Theatre) as event producers, the Forum was a digital event with a mix of webinars and discussion groups via Zoom, and had an upbeat and accessible style, with the lively tone set by the MC for the day, musician/composer and NECP Board member Dr Hannabiell Sanders. The on-line nature of the Forum meant that we were able to welcome over 200 participants including a substantial number of people who had not attended previous events.
The three panels at the heart of the programme focussed on issues around disability in the arts, the opportunities and challenges for artists and heritage practitioners across platforms, and finally issues around leadership and the potential for breaking away from conventional hierarchical models. Nine lunchtime discussion groups focussed on more specific issues such as the Climate Crisis, Racism, Governance and Freelance working.
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