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Old January 6th, 2010, 09:53 PM   #1
Newcastle Historian
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Culture & the Arts - LOCAL GALLERIES, THEATRES, LIBRARIES and MUSEUMS in Newcastle & the North East

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It occurred to me that there is still one or two gaps in our coverage of the various types of "cultural activity" that take place in Newcastle and the North East Region.

We have individual threads covering our Restaurants, Pubs, Football, Entertainment Venues, Music Venues, etc . . In those threads we cover the activities going on under those categories, as well as (in this SSC "urbanism & architecture" forum) any developments involving the buildings themselves (past, present & future).

The main areas of activity, not specifically covered so far, are "Museums, Art Galleries and Theatres" and The Arts in the region generally (including FUNDING issues) . . . hence this new thread!

The excellent "Newcastle Art" thread (started by johnnypd) continues unaffected by this one, as in that thread we tend to concentrate on specific examples of an ARTISTS WORK, rather than on the venues and locations themselves.

So, I thought I would start this new thread with the below location, primarily because it is currently in line for yet another award (which is being covered on the AWARDS thread) but also because it is (simply) one of the UKs premier museums . . .


The Great North Museum : Hancock.



The Hancock Museum, a Grade II listed building, was first opened to the public in 1884 and quickly became Newcastle’s best-known and best-loved museum.

By 2004, the building was in need of major refurbishment if it was to function effectively as a 21st century museum.

In 2004, Newcastle University, joined forces with Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, the Natural History Society of Northumbria, the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne and Newcastle City Council in a partnership project to transform the display, interpretation and storage of their nationally important shared collections.

The project has transformed the Hancock building. A new extension provides a spectacular temporary exhibition and events space, a learning suite, café, study garden, and library facility. The stunning exhibition space meets international standards for environmental control and security, and physical and intellectual access have been increased immeasurably.



The project has succeeded both in restoring the Victorian splendour of the building and in creating a fascinating and legible museum for the 21st century.

Bringing together three major collections, amassed over the last 250 years, has enabled the Museum to develop inter-related interpretation exploring, for example, the relationship of natural history and archaeological collections to the regional landscape, and the impact of humans upon it. Interactive exhibits and innovative use of ICT and projection technology are used throughout to highlight the collections and provide for a variety of learning styles and audiences.



Since re-opening, the Great North Museum (Hancock) has brought together the collections from the following four (pre-existing) Newcastle Museums and Galleries . . .

1 - The Hancock Museum.
2 - Newcastle University Museum of Antiquities.
3 - The Shefton Museum.
4 - The Hatton Gallery.

Highlights of the new £26million museum include a large-scale, interactive model of Hadrian's Wall, major new displays showing the wonder and diversity of the animal and plant kingdoms, spectacular objects from the Ancient Greeks and mummies from Ancient Egypt, a planetarium and a life-size T-Rex dinosaur skeleton.

The Living Planet display houses hundreds of creatures and by using a mixture of touch screen technology and hands-on investigations, visitors can investigate these animals and find out where they live and how they survive in such extreme places as the arctic and desert.

Live animal tanks and aquaria are integrated into this major display where visitors can see wolf fish, pythons and lizards to name a few. Star objects include a full size model of an elephant, a great white shark, a virtual aquarium, live animal displays, a polar bear, and a giraffe.

The Museum acts as a gateway to the archaeological and natural environment of the North East, signposting visitors to historic, wildlife and landscape sites.

Since re-opening on 23 May 2009, the Museum has attracted over 650,000 visitors.

Project cost: £26 million, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Newcastle City Council, Newcastle University, European Regional Development Fund, ONE North East and the Tyne and Wear Sub-Regional Partnership, and a wide variety of trusts, corporations and individuals.

Design Team:
Terry Farrell and Partners, architects
Casson Mann, exhibition design.


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Last edited by Newcastle Historian; November 8th, 2010 at 03:28 PM.
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Old January 9th, 2010, 04:16 AM   #2
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I'm off to the Live Theatre for the first time in a couple of weeks time, looking forward to it. Will post my thoughts afterwards.

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Old January 9th, 2010, 12:18 PM   #3
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I'm off to the Live Theatre for the first time in a couple of weeks time, looking forward to it. Will post my thoughts afterwards.
Great little venue!You should be pleased!
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Old January 9th, 2010, 05:38 PM   #4
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Great little venue!You should be pleased!
I've had a look at the pictures on their website and it's looks a brilliant little place.
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Old January 9th, 2010, 07:27 PM   #5
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Two years back I was on my work experience with Live Theatre who were producing a film about Newcastle's quayside. As said above it is a great little venue. Great little building as well.

Would like to go and see a production there myself.
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Old January 18th, 2010, 11:06 AM   #6
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Campaign aims to restore historic Newcastle organ
Jan 18 2010 by Liz Walker, The Journal



A "FORGOTTEN" Newcastle organ could be one of the world's greatest if it was restored, say campaigners.

The imposing Grade II listed instrument would have pulled in the crowds to Newcastle City Hall when it was first installed in 1928, a year after the venue opened its doors.

But today the 82-year-old organ, constructed specially for the City Hall by County Durham firm Harrison and Harrison, is tired and worn due to a lack of care and attention.

Now recitals are experiencing a revival, with cities such as London, Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester all bringing their organs back to life.

And the Newcastle & District Society of Organists (NDSO) believe the same should be done in Newcastle.

Next month they are asking leaders at the city council to come up with a strategy to restore this piece of musical heritage.

“This is the Rolls Royce of organs,” said City Hall manager Peter Brennan.

“If we had it in full working order it would be the most significant organ in the country and one of the most important in the world.

“People would come from miles around to hear and play it.

“There are only two others like it in Europe and three in the world.”

The NDSO have been holding events to try and get people hooked on organ music.

In the latest recital around 30 youngsters from across the region came to the City Hall to try out the instrument for themselves.

The society hope to hold more events of this kind in the future. Mr Brennan said: “It is being increasingly used as people are becoming aware of it again.

“Schools have been holding events in the hall and using the organ, which is brilliant.

“We would like to see the council support a kind of educational programme that would build on this interest.”

Peter Chatfield, vice president of the NDSO said: “Most organs are in churches but the range of organ music is quite phenomenal. They used to be played in cinemas and dancehalls.

“Other cities around the country are restoring them but Newcastle seems to be lagging behind.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We have invited members of the NDSO to meet Coun Pauline Allen next month to talk about the city hall organ.

“We recognise the importance of the organ and are looking forward to discussing its future.”

http://www.iao.org.uk/newcastle/ndso_ch.html
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Old January 23rd, 2010, 04:33 PM   #7
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It was my trip to the Live Theatre last night and I enjoyed it very much, lovely little place. I sat in the 'cabaret' section so having a table and some leg room was a nice change from being cramped in at the bigger theatres. Lovely staff too.

I'll definitely keep track of their listing and try and get down there again.
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Old January 28th, 2010, 10:34 AM   #8
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LIVE THEATRE . . A great little place, been a while since I was there, will have to go again soon!

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Old February 3rd, 2010, 03:27 PM   #9
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Hit musical Chess coming to Theatre Royal
SMASH hit musical Chess is to be re-staged and will premiere in Newcastle this summer.

The musical, written by Abba’s Benny and Bjorn and lyricist Tim Rice, will enjoy a two-week run at the Theatre Royal from the end of August.

Written in the mid-1980s and spawning hits like I Know Him So Well and One Night In Bangkok, the musical has enjoyed something of a renaissance over the past few years, including sell-out concert versions at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

The new production will be directed by Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood and produced by Wallsend-born Michael Harrison, famed for his Theatre Royal pantomimes.

Casting is yet to be announced, but the show will run from August 27 to September 11, with tickets on general sale from Saturday, and will then embark on a major national tour.

After the success of Mamma Mia! in Newcastle over Christmas, demand for tickets is expected to be huge.

Chess involves a romantic triangle between two top players, an American and a Russian, in a world chess championship, and a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other.

It happens in the context of a Cold War struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, during which both countries wanted to win international chess tournaments for propaganda purposes.

Although the characters were not intended to represent any specific individuals, that of the American was loosely based on chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer.

Following the pattern of Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, a highly successful concept album of Chess was released in 1984. One Night In Bangkok became a global smash for Murray Head, while I Know Him So Well gave Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson 1985’s second biggest selling single in the UK and stayed in the top spot for five weeks.

The first theatrical production of Chess opened in London’s West End in 1986 and played for three years.

Last year, the Royal Albert Hall played host to sell-out shows of the concert concept.

Chess was Benny and Bjorn’s first major project after Abba’s ‘unofficial’ split in 1983.

It is deemed by performers as having one of the best musical scores ever written.

A production of Chess was last staged at the Theatre Royal in the early 90s.
http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/north...2703-25753396/
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 03:34 PM   #10
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Got our tickets!! The Boss loves 'Andrew Lloyd Webber' Musicals!!
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Old February 9th, 2010, 12:10 PM   #11
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Funding boost for arts in the North East
Feb 9 2010 by David Whetstone, The Journal



TWO of the region's leading arts venues have received a cash boost while a new fund has been launched to stimulate film and new media production across the North East.

The Customs House, South Shields, has received £179,600 and Seven Stories, Newcastle, £175,000 from the Sustain fund, set up by Arts Council England to help successful arts organisations through difficult financial times.

Yesterday’s announcement was greeted with delight by the bosses of both North East organisations.

Kate Edwards, chief executive of Seven Stories, the national centre for children’s books, said it would enable them to do two things.

“Firstly it will enable us to invest in our visitor centre.

“It is coming up to being open for five years and we have to make sure that things like our air conditioning in the gallery is the best it can be to protect the original artwork on display.

“We also need to invest in some other areas to improve the experience for visitors.

“Secondly, it will enable us to invest in our artistic programme through this year and into next. We have planned an exhibition marking 70 years of Puffin books and we also want to celebrate our fifth birthday, thanking people in the North East for their support.”

Ms Edwards said Seven Stories hadn’t been in crisis but had been able to demonstrate that it had been hit by the recession.

She said that while many schools still supported Seven Stories, there had been a drop in the number of school visits because of rising transport costs, leading to a fall in income.

There had also been a fall in corporate hire while trusts and foundations had had less money to award because of the decreased value of their endowments

Ray Spencer, executive director of the Customs House, said the money would be spent on three things.

It would enable the venue to produce a new play by Valerie Laws about local hero John Simpson Kirkpatrick, the “man with the donkey”, who rescued hundreds of wounded Australian and New Zealand soldiers at Gallipoli during the First World War. “The big idea is to take it out to Australia to coincide with their Gallipoli celebration,” said Mr Spencer.

Some of the money would be spent on staging a contemporary production of Romeo and Juliet in South Shields as part of the Customs House Bard in the Park presentation.

The rest would be spent on leasing a shop in the town centre to act as a box office and to offer for sale the work of artists exhibiting at the Customs House.

“The big issue for us, being at Mill Dam, is that we have no footfall, the spontaneous ‘let’s buy a ticket’ from passers-by.

“We have felt a squeeze on the corporate side of things but we are trying to generate income in other ways.”

Just over £41m has now been invested nationally through Sustain.

Arts Council chief executive Alan Davey said: “Sustain has been crucial in helping over 130 arts organisations weather the effects of the recession.”
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Old February 9th, 2010, 07:39 PM   #12
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Customs house gets more than Newcastle... these bloody sand-dancers get all the money! They should call it the Arts Council South Shields
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Old February 20th, 2010, 11:27 AM   #13
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Theatre Royal plans to go back to the future
Feb 20 2010 The Journal



A HISTORIC theatre has unveiled ambitious plans for a restoration that will transform it both inside and out.

Newcastle’s Theatre Royal will take its audiences on a journey through time in a £4.75m revamp to commemorate the building’s 175th birthday in 2012.

The Georgian venue has changed with the times, losing much of its original authenticity as light fittings, carpets and decor styles have gone in and out of fashion over the decades.

Most notably, the Grade-1-listed building on Grey Street was completely rebuilt following a fire that destroyed it in 1899.

Now the grand Georgian structure, once referred to as “the greatest building on Britain’s greatest street”, will get an architectural overhaul with the purpose of recapturing the original style of Frank Matcham’s 1901 design, while at the same time introducing 21st century standards of comfort.

Imitation gas-light burners and period-style seating will sit comfortably alongside Victorian fabrics, carpets and tile-work.

State-of the-art ventilation and air-conditioning will also be installed, as well as a revamp of the theatre’s washrooms and other facilities.

From the stalls and gallery right through to the stage and parts of the building’s exterior, audiences will soon see changes described as “inspirational” by Theatre Royal Chief Executive Philip Bernays.

He said yesterday: “This is a very exciting time for us.

“We are now moving from the feasibility stage to the full development of technical proposals – the vision of this restoration is now becoming a reality, and audiences can look forward to a much more comfortable and special experience.

“The Theatre Royal is not only one of the most impressive buildings in Britain, but it is also a major monument of civic pride. It has a place in the hearts and minds of every person in the North East and also many further afield.

“Its protection and conservation is of national importance.”

The works - funded through donations from businesses, charitable organisations and ticket fees - are set to take place between March and September 2011.

Mr Bernays said all functions at the theatre, including meetings, conferences and educational events, will continue throughout that period but performances will be suspended for five months while the bulk of the work takes place.

Theatre conservation expert Dr David Wilmore and architects Peter Hall and Robert Sansome have drawn on samples of historical material including photographs and other theatre memorabilia to inform the restoration process.

The Theatre is bidding for £250,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help fund the project.
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Old February 23rd, 2010, 11:12 AM   #14
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Mourning the loss of region's cultural voice
Jan 18 2010 by Amy Hunt, The Journal


FEARS have been raised that the cultural voice of the North East is being watered down by shake-ups in regional arts organisations.

A restructure of the Arts Council England is set to create a “super-region” for the whole of the North, covering big cities like Manchester and Liverpool, as well as Tyneside.

Newcastle city leaders are warning efforts to promote culture in the area, which have brought tourism and other economic benefits, could now be lost in the mix.

Coun David Faulkner, deputy leader of Newcastle City Council, said he was concerned about the trend of regional bodies to oversee arts and culture in the North East, ceding power to national offices.

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), which used to have a North East division, has set up a national team to replace eight of the nine regional MLAs.

And Culture North East, where Coun Faulkner was a board member, closed down in 2008 because of Government cuts.

He said: “I was a member of the Culture North East and the Museums, Libraries and Archives North East boards. I thought they did very good work promoting the importance of culture in the region and making sure it was contributing to quality of life, business and tourism in the region.

“I think it’s really sad that these two organisations, which were very strong in the region, have been cast aside and become centralised. Now we’ve got Arts Councils amalgamating the whole of the North into a super-region.

“We will still have managers here which is fine, but I get the impression that the benefits the region has worked so hard for could be lost and I’d question whether the region will have sufficient voice for culture on a national level. The Arts Council in the North East has helped transform the image, reputation and quality of life of the region and we don’t want it to go.

“I think there’s a risk of losing some of the momentum we have created within the cultural development of the North East over the last 20 years.”

He highlighted events such as the National Garden Festival held in Gateshead in 1990 and the Year of Visual Arts in the North East in 1996 as success stories which have put the region on the cultural map. Icons like The Sage Gateshead, Baltic and Angel of the North have been made possible by North East-based arts organisations, he said.

Following a review Arts Council bosses announced plans for a restructure which would save £6.5m a year.

Scottish Arts Council chief executive Jim Tough has been unveiled as the new area executive director for the North and will take up his post from April.

Mark Robinson, the current executive director for the North East, announced in July he would leave the organisation in the shake-up.

An Arts Council spokeswoman said: “The new Arts Council structure continues to have a strong regional focus with an office in Newcastle. The new structure allows for much more external focus, with specialist relationship managers advising artists and developing opportunities across the region.

“The new structure allows the sharing of resources and knowledge more flexibly across the organisation and simplifies processes – for example, centralised grants for the arts process based in the support services centre in Manchester.

“Staff in the regions will be focused on customer-facing activities, head office is streamlined and the smaller executive board will be more strategic and able to make faster decisions. These changes will positively impact upon regional artists.”


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Last edited by Newcastle Historian; June 19th, 2010 at 11:17 AM.
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Old February 24th, 2010, 06:06 PM   #15
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It is interesting now, to look at the original planned structure of The Great North Museum : Hancock, as instead of being extended into a new-build out the back (as it now has been) it was originally planned to have the new-build extensions on the other side of Claremont Road, with a bridge going over the road linking the two sites. See below . .

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Old February 24th, 2010, 06:32 PM   #16
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Work underway at the Laing
Work is underway at the Laing Art Gallery to transform the existing Art on Tyneside display into a new display, Northern Spirit: 300 Years of Art from the North East.

While the work takes place, there will be some disruption to the shop and café areas. The café will also be closed on Sunday 28 February.

The new display, Northern Spirit: 300 Years of Art from the North East, will open in October 2010 and will include nationally and internationally-important work by artists and makers held in the Laing collection. It will include work by Thomas Bewick, John Martin, the Beilby family and many more.
http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/news/wor...-at-the-laing/
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Old February 24th, 2010, 08:20 PM   #17
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Thanks for posting that TPNE, that's good news.

Here is a bit more information about the new "Northern Spirit, 300 Years of Art from the North East" display, at the Laing . .


New display at the Laing Art Gallery



The development of an exciting new display at Newcastle's Laing Art Gallery is beginning.

The Gallery's Art on Tyneside display will close from Monday 30 November to undergo a transformation into a new area, featuring work by some of the region’s best-known artists and makers.

Julie Milne, curator of the Laing Art Gallery, says:

'The North East has been home to artists and makers of national and international importance and we want to highlight the contributions they made to the region and to the wider art world, from the 18th century to the present day.'

The new display, which is scheduled to open in October next year, will showcase internationally-important art from the Laing Art Gallery's collection, including work by John Martin, Thomas Bewick and the Beilby family of glass enamellers.

The Laing Art Gallery is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sundays from 2pm to 5pm. Admission is free.

The new display is funded by a grant of £250,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund; £225,000, awarded jointly by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Wolfson Foundation; and £345,000 from Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), awarded through Newcastle University’s International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies.

Last edited by Newcastle Historian; March 1st, 2010 at 11:31 AM.
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Old February 25th, 2010, 01:39 PM   #18
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I do think that the Laing needs some sort of boost. I've been on a couple of occasions (mainly to try to get photos of neighbouring spaces from its upper windows) and found the exhibits to be a bit dull. I'm not suggesting turning it into a wacky, experiential gallery like the Life Centre, but I can't see many reasons to go back and visit it very often. Maybe it's just my perception of it though.
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Old February 27th, 2010, 06:00 PM   #19
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Exciting new developments at the Shipley

Henry Rothschild at the Shipley Art Gallery

The Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead will unveil a very exciting new development to the public in February 2010, as work is nearing completion on the Henry Rothschild Study Centre, which will make the gallery a centre of national importance for contemporary craft and ceramics.

The Henry Rothschild Study Centre will enable the Gallery to present a superb collection of 20th century ceramics amassed by Henry Rothschild (1913 - 2009), founder of the shop Primavera.



The collection also includes work by leading ceramicists working in Britain and internationally since the 1950s.

Amy Barker, curator of the Shipley Art Gallery says:

"The Henry Rothschild Study Centre is the culmination of a long relationship between Henry Rothschild and the Shipley Art Gallery, that began in 1994 with loans and gifts to the Gallery. Henry was attracted to the Shipley's commitment to encouraging public engagement through contemporary craft and design."

The new study centre will allow Henry Rothschild's collection to be viewed en masse for the first time. It will include a database with more information about the collector, the objects and the makers and a reference library of books on studio ceramics donated by Henry Rothschild.

Amy Barker says:

"The Shipley is now home to over 330 pieces collected by Henry Rothschild., The new Study Centre is a testament to his passion for ceramics and his zest and enthusiasm for discovering outstanding works made by highly skilled craftspeople. We expect that enthusiasts will travel to the Shipley to see this fabulous collection and we look forward to welcoming them.”

The Study Centre will ensure that this nationally significant collection remains intact and available for future generations and will build on the Gallery's reputation as a leading centre for art, craft and design.

Leader of Gateshead Council Mick Henry said:

"I'm really excited about this collection and the new developments. I think it's further evidence of Gateshead's ever growing reputation for art and I’m sure that it will further cement the Shipley's position at the forefront of contemporary craft and design, as well as being yet another boost to tourism in the region."

The Shipley Art Gallery is open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday 2pm to 5pm and bank holiday Mondays. Admission is free.
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Old February 27th, 2010, 06:17 PM   #20
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VOTING is NOW OPEN, for the below (see LINK at bottom of page) . . .

Great North Museum's battle for £100,000 arts award
Feb 22 2010 by Tony Henderson, The Journal

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A TOP North museum is set to battle it out against 10 others for the UK's biggest arts cash prize.

Staff at the revamped Great North Museum in Newcastle have been told they are in the running for the £100,000 Art Fund Prize. The cash award is the biggest single prize on offer to Museums and Galleries and is awarded to the venue which has demonstrated the most originality, imagination and excellence for its exhibitions.

The museum will go head-to-head against some of the most popular attractions, including The Natural History Museum which has been selected for its new Darwin Centre and the National Army Museum which has been included for its Conflicts of Interest exhibition.

The Great North Museum, which was created after a £26m revamp of the former Hancock Museum, has been selected for its outstanding collections of natural history, archaeology and world cultures.

Since the Great North Museum opened in May last year, it has attracted 673,000 visitors – already exceeding its full-year target. Alec Coles, director of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, believes being included on the Art Fund Prize longlist shows that the museum is one of the best in the country.

He said: “The Art Fund Prize is hugely important to us and it is fantastic to see the Great North Museum on the list. It just goes to show how museums in our region are gaining a competitive edge.

“One of our main aims at the Great North Museum is to increase public participation and enjoyment and going on to win the Art Fund Prize would enable us to continue to do just that.”

Usually there are only 10 groups which make it onto the longlist, but this year due to the high standard of entries there are 11 establishments vying for the cash prize. The eventual winner will be decided by a judging panel which this year is chaired by broadcaster Kirsty Young.

She said: “My fellow judges and I deliberated passionately and at length, and even then it was impossible to select fewer than eleven for the long list.

“The quality of applications was simply outstanding. We are delighted with our selection and feel that this year’s long list demonstrates a snapshot of the UK’s incredible cultural offerings.”

The Great North Museum was officially opened by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in November during their visit to Tyneside.

Among the exhibitions is an interactive guide to Hadrian’s Wall and mummies from Ancient Egypt, a planetarium and a life-size T-Rex dinosaur skeleton. Stephen Deuchar, director of The Art Fund, said: “This year’s listed museums and galleries have shown such depth of imagination and drive. They are a testament to the wealth of culture on offer right across the UK.”

The judges will visit each of the listed museums and galleries before selecting a short list of four, to be announced at the end of May.

The winner of the £100,000 prize will be announced on June 30 at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London.

The public can vote for their favourite institution and leave comments for the judges on the Art Fund Prize website saying why their choice should win.

:: Go to: www.artfundprize.org.uk
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