Art Council’s NPO announcements for the North

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, Family Day 2019. Credit AB Photography (one of many recipients)

£383.5 million (over three years) in the North, as Arts Council England backs art, culture, and creativity for more people in more places, across the country

Last week, Arts Council England revealed details of its new national portfolio of funded organisations for 2023-26. In total, 282 organisations in the North will receive a share of £446 million nationally (each year) ensuring that more people in more places can find fantastic, fulfilling art and culture on their doorsteps.

From Barrow to Barnsley, from Knowsley to Kirklees and from Rochdale to Redcar, the Arts Council’s Levelling Up for Culture Places in the North will see a 65% increase in investment to them, as part of the 78 designated towns and cities across the country to receive their share of £43.5 million annually, for the next three years.

The number of organisations in the North delivering creative and cultural activity for children and young people has increased by 25%, including organisations new to the portfolio such as Signal Film & Media in Barrow, which provides free training in skills including animation, filmmaking and audio recording, and an increase in funding for the renowned Grimm and Co in Rotherham, which helps children and young people to create stories and discover the wonders of literature and books.

In Merseyside, the following organisations have received NPO status:

  • 20 Stories High
  • Africa Oye Limited
  • Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians
  • DaDaFest
  • Dead Ink (Cinder House Publishing Limited)
  • FACT
  • Future Yard CIC
  • Heart of Glass
  • Homotopia Limited
  • Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse (Liverpool & Merseyside Theatres Trust
  • Ltd)
  • Liverpool Arab Arts Festival
  • Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art Ltd
  • Liverpool Lighthouse
  • Milap Festival Trust
  • One Latin Culture Ltd
  • Open Eye gallery
  • Pagoda Arts
  • Royal Court Liverpool Trust
  • Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
  • Sefton Libraries
  • Shakespeare North Playhouse (The Shakespeare North Trust)
  • SoundCity
  • St Helens Council Library Service
  • The Black-E (Great Georges Community Cultural Project Ltd)
  • The Bluecoat
  • The Norton Priory Museum Trust
  • The Reader
  • Unity Theatre
  • Writing on the Wall

The focus on young people follows through to a range of programmes supporting creative skills, nurturing talent and developing new creative career opportunities across the North, such as Factory International’s training programmes in Manchester developing the next generation of technicians, producers and arts professionals, the Associate Artist Programme at Phoenix Dance Theatre in Leeds, and initiatives delivered by New Writing North in Newcastle to identify and develop talent among young writers.


Overall, there will be investment in a richly varied mix of organisations: Established icons such as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Northern Ballet and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art; a boost for the best of our museums and libraries with newly funded North Yorkshire Moors Railway Trust, the National Football Museum in Manchester, Jarrow Hall in South Tyneside, and Barnsley and Sefton Libraries, among others, all joining; and ambitious pioneers and innovators such as We Are Unlimited in Wakefield, who commission extraordinary work by disabled artists including visual arts and theatre, and national festival of sustainability Festival of Thrift in Redcar.

In our conversations and research with the public over the past five years, we have heard again and again that people want and need easy access to meaningful, impactful cultural events and creative activities in the places where they live. Through the investment we are announcing today, we have focused on making certain that as many people as possible in England – no matter where they come from or what their circumstances – can get hold of the very best of art and culture on the high streets and in the community spaces of their villages, towns and cities.

This investment will help more people to participate in high quality creative and cultural activities in the areas where they live, while also supporting places in the North already recognised as national and international centres for the creative industries, which attract talent to the region and promote innovation and collaboration throughout the cultural sector.

The latest round of funding will benefit arts organisations, museums, and libraries in every corner of the country, and every corner of the North, from the Liverpool City Region to North East Lincolnshire, and from Northumberland to West Cumbria, with a clear focus on ensuring that investment is increased in those places that, historically, have been underserved. Levelling Up for Culture Places in the North – such as Rochdale, Selby and South Tyneside – will receive £22.9 million over three years. By funding new organisations in new places, we are delivering on the vision set out in our strategy, Let’s Create: that everyone, everywhere, deserves to benefit from public investment in culture and creativity.

As well as renewing our support for those excellent, innovative organisations that have done so much to build England’s reputation as one of the most creative countries in the world, we are investing in 78 new organisations in the North, of all shapes and sizes, that will together help fund and nurture the next generation of talent across the country. We are investing in a wide-ranging and varied portfolio of organisations that will deliver world-leading artistic work alongside accessible creative and cultural experiences for people from every background.

Overall, our new portfolio is more diverse and wide-ranging than ever before. From today, organisations such as the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Halle in Manchester and Northumberland-based renowned poetry publisher Bloodaxe Books will be joined by newcomers as eclectic and exciting as the National Festival of Making (which explores the crossover between art, design and manufacturing while celebrating the industrial heritage of Blackburn); Gary Clarke Company (acclaimed contemporary dance organisation which creates compelling performances that are shaped by Barnsley and its people); and Surface Area Dance Theatre in Newcastle and Sunderland (award-winning company delivering live and digital performances).

Sarah Maxfield, Arts Council England’s North Area Director, said: “This announcement marks a new chapter for the Arts Council’s work in the North, with a stronger focus on ensuring there are opportunities for people from all backgrounds to enjoy creativity and culture, particularly in places where there have previously been fewer opportunities to get involved in arts and cultural activities. As well as having a direct impact over the next three years, this investment will provide foundations we can build on in years to come, as we look to create a country where each person can enjoy arts and culture and explore their creative talents, and strengthen the North’s position as a world centre of art, culture and the creative industries.”