Appetite, the New Vic led Creative People and Places programme for Stoke-on-Trentand Newcastle-under-Lyme, has been awarded Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status, confirming funding of the arts programme in the two places for a further 3 years.
The grant of up to £736,111 from the Arts Council will enable Appetite to bring together its work for the local communities of Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme into one programme, which will run until October 2025.
This is the first time that Creative People and Places programmes have been awarded NPO status and the funding will allow the Appetite programme to build on its successful work in the Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme areas. The Stoke-on-Trent programme was due to come to an end in its current form at the end of March 2022, with the Newcastle programme due to end in 2023. This funding will now bring both parts of the programme together through one programme. Consortium partners, Partners in Creative Learning, 6 Towns Radio, Staffordshire University, Go Kidsgrove, Keele University and Newcastle-under-Lyme Business Improvement District (BID) will now work alongside existing and new strategic partners Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Staffordshire County Council, We Are Aspire, Canal and River Trust, Middleport Matters, Stoke-on-Trent City Centre Business Improvement District (BID) and Stoke Creates to build a programme to engage local community groups across the region to continue to inspire people of all ages to engage with the arts.
Fiona Wallace, Managing Director at New Vic Theatre, Appetite’s lead organisation, said: “It’s great news that Appetite has been successful in becoming part of the Creative People and Places national portfolio and that we’ll be able to continue working with our partners and our local communities to engage more local people in the arts, to support the economic and social benefits that this investment will bring to our area. Helping to make Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme great places to live and work is fundamental to the New Vic’s mission, and this award is testament to the tremendous success of the Appetite programme in enabling us to achieve this. Our thanks to Arts Council England for continuing to invest in our area to realise this goal.”
Gemma Thomas, Appetite Director, said: “Appetite works with people and partners in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-Under-Lyme to shape our projects. This additional investment allows us to build capacity of residents, artists and our partners; it allows us to develop long-term relationships with arts and culture; and enables us to demonstrate the positive impact that arts and culture can have on people and places. It also attracts additional investment from non-arts partners. Being a part of the new Creative People and Places National Portfolio is brilliant for the project, our consortium, partners and change-making for individuals and communities at this time in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-Under-Lyme.”
Councillor Lorraine Beardmore, cabinet member for culture, leisure and public health at Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “We have a fantastic arts and culture scene here in Stoke-on-Trent and Appetite play a crucial role in that.
“The continued funding of Creative People and Places is absolutely fantastic news and will allow us to continue to deliver high quality events such as The Big Feast which brings our city centre alive over August Bank Holiday weekend every year and attracts thousands of visitors from near and afar to experience street theatre and live entertainment.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to see continued investment into this sector after such a difficult time artists have had during the pandemic and I really look forward to continuing the great partnership we have with Appetite in delivering amazing events all across the city.”
Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council’s Cabinet member for leisure, culture and heritage, Jill Waring, said: “This is great news for Appetite and for us. The national portfolio status really helps to put the area on the UK’s cultural map, which is where it belongs.
“The Council really values the positive impact that Appetite has, on Newcastle in particular, bringing that touch of cultural magic to our town centre. Alongside the New Vic Theatre, this national recognition of the fundamental artistic and cultural value brought to the lives of our communities is very welcome.”
Creative People and Places is about more people taking the lead in choosing, creating and taking part in arts experiences in the places where they live. The Appetite programme began in Stoke-on-Trent in 2013, expanding into Newcastle-under-Lyme in 2019. An arts programme co-produced with local residents through the Appetite Supper Club, the programme features distinctive, quality, family-friendly arts events in the city’s parks, town centres, markets, hospitals and more. To date, Appetite has brought local, national and international artists to the city with highlights including The Enchanted Chandelier, a floating concert in the sky over Central Forest Park and GAIA, Luke Jerram’s epic installation of the Earth, in Keele University’s chapel. Since 2014 Appetite has delivered the two day outdoor arts spectacle that is The Big Feast in Stoke-on-Trent City Centre and during 2020 developed Newcastle Common, a project in Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre that is testing transforming empty shops into places of art, culture and community.