Antony Sher dies

Antony Sher dies

Sir Antony Sher, perhaps the finest actor of his generation, has died aged 72, the Royal Shakespeare Company announced today.

TAITMAIL   Behind the battlements

TAITMAIL Behind the battlements

Nottingham Castle Museum was doing well, for a museum without much real history left to talk about, and it was getting a healthy 150,000 visitors a year - about half what Stonehenge gets - before it closed for its £30m refurb which it was hoped would double the numbers. 

Shebeen culture wins Turner Prize

Shebeen culture wins Turner Prize

Array Collective, the Belfast co-operative of 11 artists whose nominated work, The Druithaib’s Ball, is an installation centred on an illicit Irish drinking den described as “a place to gather outside the sectarian divides”, has won the 2021 Turner Prize.

ACE’s £38.3m for local culture

ACE’s £38.3m for local culture

Arts Council England has today announced grants worth £38.3m for the programme that makes partners of cultural organisations and communities.

Bird to quit SOLT and UK Theatre

Bird to quit SOLT and UK Theatre

Julian Bird is to stand down as CEO of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre after more than 11 years. 

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

London’s East End, June, 1957, by Frank Pocklington

Alan Sparrow talks to Frank Pocklington about his favourite Picture Post photograph

Sacha Craddock stands down at New Contemporaries

Sacha Craddock stands down at New Contemporaries

Sacha Craddock is stepping down as chair of New Contemporaries, the organisation set up more than 70 years ago to support emerging visual artists with touring exhibitions of their work.

Eilish McGuinness takes over at NHLF

Eilish McGuinness takes over at NHLF

Eilish McGuinness is to take over from Ros Kerslake as CEO of the National Heritage Lottery Fund at the end of the year.

Lewisham’s year of diverse culture

Lewisham’s year of diverse culture

Lewisham is to be London’s next Borough of Culture for 2022, focusing on diversity, activism and the climate emergency in a programme that was announced at the Rivoli Ballroom today.

Emmie Kell is ACE's new museums chief

Emmie Kell is ACE's new museums chief

Emmie Kell, CEO of the Cornwall Museums Partnership, is to be Arts Council England’s new director of museums and cultural property.

Merger creates Creative UK

Merger creates Creative UK

The Creative Industries Federation and Creative England have merged today to become Creative UK, bringing together the advocacy work of one body and the investment expertise and practical support of the other.

Kathryn Jacob to chair HOME

Kathryn Jacob to chair HOME

Kathryn Jacob, CEO of the cinema advertising agency Pearl & Dean, is to be the new chair of the Manchester arts centre HOME.

33% of musicians still earning nothing from music

33% of musicians still earning nothing from music

A third of our professional musicians are earning nothing from music and 87% are earning less than £1,000 a month, according to new figures today from the charity Help Musicians.

£1m hunt for young museumgoers as ‘perfect storm’ looms

£1m hunt for young museumgoers as ‘perfect storm’ looms

The Art Fund has launched a £1m fundraising campaign to help museums attract under 24-year-olds.

Another £107m for arts recovery

Another £107m for arts recovery

Almost 1,000 arts organisations are to benefit from a new round of £107m worth of grants from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

£5m for community jubilee parties

£5m for community jubilee parties

A new Arts Council fund is offering £5m to help voluntary and community organisations celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee next year.

Curators share £300k development funding

Curators share £300k development funding

The Art Fund has named the 11 museum professionals that will share the Headley Fellowship’s grants this year worth £302,500 to extend their collections knowledge.

THE WORD   Under-estimating the power of the tweet

THE WORD Under-estimating the power of the tweet

Social media have become essential to arts organisations, says a new report, and often rely on underpaid and under-resourced operators. Alice Kent of the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre asks what can professional networks, industry, funders and policy-makers do to ensure that digital workers are better supported

Birthday royal sculptures for Albert Hall

Birthday royal sculptures for Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall has commissioned sculptures of the Queen, Prince Philip, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert from four young artists to mark its 150th anniversary.

Ten Manchester music creatives offered £1k development packages

Ten Manchester music creatives offered £1k development packages

Manchester International Festival is offering £1,000 each to ten local musicians to help them create new work as part of its MIF Sounds initiative, launched last year at the height of the pandemic.

Florence Nightingale joins Lord Mayor’s parade

Florence Nightingale joins Lord Mayor’s parade

Marking the completion of her 200th birthday celebrations., Florence Nightingale joined the Lord Mayor of London’s Show at the weekend.

Giant print plant plays host to classical experiment

Giant print plant plays host to classical experiment

A printing plant that once one of the largest in Europe has been the venue for a pioneering immersive concert.

Mariam Zulfiqar to lead Artangel

Mariam Zulfiqar to lead Artangel

Mariam Zulfiqar, Forestry England’s contemporary art programme manager since March this year, is to be the new director or of the public art producer Artangel.

Barbican takes action after damning discrimination report

Barbican takes action after damning discrimination report

The Barbican has vowed to take decisive action “to build a culture where staff feel confident, valued and respected” following a damning report by an independent investigation team.

ARTS CENTRE Civic pride

Barnsley’s new arts centre is reviving its ambitious plans for the future. Patrick Kelly reports

Across the road from Barnsley’s transport exchange is an imposing three storey Victoria building, spruced up and glowing, wrought by Yorkshire’s finest ironmongers. The Civic Hall is a physical expression of this mining town’s confidence in the future, a venue for self-education, through a varied programme of concerts and lectures. 

But look closer through the modern glass foyer and you will find that the imposing façade is just that. The grand lobby leads nowhere except to a pair of temporary council offices, and the magnificent new escalators are silent and shuttered.

This was to have been the entrance to a major new arts centre, gallery and design-led retail emporium, which would showcase the creative spirit of the new Barnsley and be the linchpin of a cultural renaissance in a town that had been hit hard by the closure of its mining industry in the decades before. An ambitious council saw the first decade of the 21st century as a chance to re-imagine the town and engaged star architect Will Alsop to masterplan a new 25 year vision for the town. Alsop’s dreamlike vision was of a Tuscan hilltop town in the North, a notion which caused much ribaldry at the time.

But Barnsley got on with it, and with support from Arts Council England and the now-lamented regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward, the Civic was rebuilt and remodelled in 2009. It now includes a 384 seat performance space, an art gallery, modern of office accommodation and business units and a range of meeting spaces. But only the first phase of the plan was completed, as the credit crunch, then the recession, put paid to the commercial end of the development. Austerity and local government funding cuts have added the coup de grace to the plan, leaving a large part of the new building unoccupied.

But all that may be about to change. The Civic has won a major boost from the Arts Council’s Catalyst Evolve Fund, which helps organisations like The Civic with a limited track record in fundraising to attract more private giving. Money raised will be matched by the fund over a three-year period. Civic chief executive Helen Ball is confident that they can put together a plan for the £5m they need to bring the whole of the new building back into use. The plan is to create new performance spaces, educational and workshop areas and to place the box office on that Victorian front- age. There are proposals for a new bar, café and shop which will in- crease the visibility of the Civic, which has suffered from the fact that its working operation is hidden behind the old façade. Audiences currently have to find their way round the back of the building, via an historic but somewhat gloomy passageway.

“The Victorian frontage has history behind it,” says Ball. “It’s part of the cultural story of Barnsley and we miss having that high street presence. It’s been a real frustration for us that the public can’t enjoy the whole building.”

Gaining access to those unused and undeveloped floors would also enable the Civic to widen the range of the programme and also encourage other organisations to use the space for artistic activities. Barnsley’s Mu- sic Education Hub is already holding concerts and workshops in the existing space, but there is huge potential for more, she says.

The changes would also increase the gallery’s exhibition space and al- low the Civic to provide spaces where the public could see artists making work. “We have always been more than just a white cube space,” says Ball. “Our exhibitions have always been very design led, responsive and interactive, but this would allow people to see the business of creating work and get involved themselves.”

The Catalyst Evolve fund will also help build new relationships with the community, she adds. Already Henry Boot construction, which is busy remodelling the town’s shop- ping centre and world famous markets, just across the road from the Civic, have become the arts centre’s business champions and staff have raised £5,000 towards the revamp. Other high pro le supporters include Sir Michael Parkinson, ballerina Tala Lee-Turton and celebrity hairdresser Andrew Barton, as well as BBC radio’s Dame Jenni Murray.

Since its opening back in 2009, the Civic has secured NPO status from Arts Council England, and developed a combined arts programme catering for a range of tastes and interests which up to now, hasn’t needed a council subsidy. And Ball is proud of the fact that groups like Mark Mark, the street theatre company and Tell Tale Hearts, the children’s touring company now call the Civic their home. “But there is so much more potential here in Barnsley,” she says.

“We want to be able to support a wealth of creative businesses and projects to develop and thrive and we want to add to Barnsley town centre’s leisure and entertainment offer as part of their evening economy.”

Barnsley’s Civic

The original Civic was built as a Public Hall by Charles Harvey in 1877 and achieved a certain amount of notoriety when it became the site of an appalling tragedy when 16 children were crushed in a crowd stampede in 1908. In later years, the Civic hall did service as a wartime soup kitchen and library. In 1962, the Hall became Barnsley Civic Theatre, a traditional proscenium

arch theatre seating 800 people and attracting some of the biggest names in show business to the town, including Charlie Williams and Ken Dodd.

The theatre continued to entertain audiences until 1998. Increasing maintenance problems andfi nancial difficulties meant the theatre was forced to close. It is a Grade II listed building with a spectacular ceiling in the main performance area.

 

 

 

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