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North East cultural organisations trade with one third of the planet

A new survey reveals the particular importance of six world countries to the North East’s arts and heritage sector – Germany, the USA, France, South Africa, Sweden and China both now, and over the next 15 years.

The survey – carried out by the North East Cultural Partnership (NECP) – found that forty five arts and heritage organisations are currently working with 61 countries – that’s a third of the world’s nations.

Analysing nearly 200 projects detailed in the survey, more than a third of the cultural activity is of mutual benefit – such as artist exchange and European Union-funded programmes. The survey results also reveal the North East region exports twice as much cultural activity as it imports.

Graeme Thompson (Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, University of Sunderland, and Chair of the NECP International Sub-Group) said: “This survey has identified the six countries with the most potential for future investment and growth in terms of cultural partnership. The NECP is now meeting with UK Trade and Investment, the Chamber of Commerce, Local Enterprise Partnerships, and the Combined Authorities to investigate how these key organisations can support the international work of the North East’s cultural sector and, in return, how the cultural sector can support the other sectors of the North East’s economy.”

Launched in Durham last July and at the House of Commons in November, the Case for Culture clearly highlights the importance of the cultural sector to the North East economy: http://www.case4culture.org.uk/. The Creative and cultural industries are worth £755m in Gross Value Added to the North East Economy. Over 70,000 people are employed in the cultural sector.

Based on this data, the NECP International Sub-group is exploring how to work in a more focused way with the top six countries of: China, Germany, the USA, France, South Africa, and Sweden.

Those surveyed were unanimous about the benefits of international working:
• Inward investment – the cultural sector has an important role in persuading businesses to move to the North East;
• Increases the international market for the North East’s cultural offer;
• Enables our cultural organisations to access alternative funding streams;
• Develops current, and future, cultural practitioners in our region;
• Increases the diversity of culture available to NE, and overseas, audiences.

Theatre Hullabaloo is: the North East of England’s specialist producer of theatre for young audiences; producer of  TakeOff – England’s leading festival of theatre for children and young people, and an organisation in the middle of the creation The Hullaballoon – a flagship venue for children and young people.

Laura Case, Development Director for Theatre Hullabaloo said that: “International relationships are an important part of delivering Theatre Hullabaloo’s vision in making creativity part of everyone’s childhood. Working in collaboration with International partners allows us to develop our practice and share ideas to develop new work and projects. We believe that children and young people have an entitlement to access theatre of the highest quality and this includes theatre from around the world.

Last September, the North East Cultural Partnership arranged a visit to the Ruhr Valley and I had the opportunity to network with a wide range of people working within the cultural sector in this part of Germany.  It was great to meet with employees of Consol Theatre in Gelsenkirchen and explore similarities and potential connections.

At the end of this month, I return to Gelsenkirchen as an invited guest of the North Rhine-Westphalia West Wind festival; a prestigious annual theatre festival for young audiences and Consol Theatre is one of the hosts. This will allow me the time and the opportunity to progress conversations with Consol Theatre, other companies within the sector, attend performances, see audiences within the Ruhr region and participate in conversations on work and practice for children and young people. I shall also discuss the cultural landscape, and potential funding opportunities, with guests from other countries including Mexico, Sweden, and Poland.”

David Coppock, Regional Director for UKTI North East, said: “We find that organisations that export their goods and services overseas have increased confidence and creativity back here in the UK. Arts and culture organisations may not be seen as ‘traditional’ exporters, but they have skills, expertise and heritage that the rest of the world is interested in. Next week sees Exporting is Great – a whole week of events dedicated to helping North East organisations take the first steps on their export journeys.”

Notes to editors:

North East Culture Partnership: Background and achievements

The North East Culture Partnership (NECP) enables the region’s cultural organisations to work strategically with local authorities, business and universities to develop the cultural agenda for the North East. Our partnership is ambitious about what culture can bring to communities and how it can create distinctiveness. In a time of change and economic challenge the NECP is campaigning for new funding and more regional influence over funding decisions as an important part of the region’s development.

Our Board of 24 includes elected members from each North East local authority as well as leaders from universities, arts and heritage organisations and business.

NECP launched the Case for Culture (C4C), last July in Durham and, in November, at the Houses of Parliament. And, in the Department for Culture Media & Sport’s “Culture White Paper” published in March 2016 the NECP is cited as a model of good practice (p.34): “Greater local and national partnerships are necessary to develop the role of culture in place-making.” “In some places, this vision is already being realised: the North East Culture Partnership represents a template of what could be achieved. Its Case for Culture sets out an ambitions vision for cultural development over the next fifteen years. More than 1,000 people and organisations representing business, sporting, educational, tourism and cultural interests across the region together with twelve local authorities and five universities contributed to its development.”

The Case for Culture sets out an ambitious vision for cultural development in the North East over the next 15 years informed and shaped by people living, working and creating in the region. It covers five aspirations:
1. Participation and reach
2. Children and young people
3. Talent and progression
4. Economic value
5. Distinctiveness and innovation

The Case for Culture focuses particularly on arts and heritage, also exploring important connections with tourism, sport and the creative industries. It imagines what the region’s cultural infrastructure – or ‘bricks and mortar’ – and programming could look like fifteen years from now, building on our strengths and all that makes the North East so distinctive.

The Case for Culture will be an important tool in helping to drive investment in culture in the North East, recognising the sector’s significant potential for growth.

It will look at what culture has to offer the region, considering the economy, health and wellbeing, sense of place and communities – as well as future ambitions for 2030 and what practical things are needed, in addition to funding to make this vision a reality.

Contact for further information:

Teresa Kirby
North East Culture Partnership Manager
Email: Teresa.kirby@neculturepartnership.co.uk

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