Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by Northern Rock Foundation (arts 149)


· Northern Rock Foundation has funded Arts & Culture organisations in the North East and Cumbria since 1997.

· Northern Rock Foundation made a significant contribution to the arts and heritage sector in the North East and Cumbria over 12 years but most often as a funding partner, not as a sole funder.

· Northern Rock Foundation grants have often been part of a larger package of funding that has included substantial public funding.

· Northern Rock Foundation is currently concentrating its grants on tackling the effects of poverty and disadvantage on vulnerable people and therefore now only provides funding for arts and heritage organisations where they can show an impact on these priorities.

Full Submission

1. This submission is on behalf of the Northern Rock Foundation, an independent charity which aims to tackle disadvantage and improve the quality of life in the North East and Cumbria. The submission concentrates on the work of the Foundation in funding the arts and heritage, as an example of the role charitable foundations can play.

2. Northern Rock Foundation was established in 1997. Up to December 2009 the Foundation had provided approximately £36 million of funding to arts and culture organisations in the North East and Cumbria. This included grants of approximately £12 million for new or redeveloped cultural facilities including The Sage Gateshead, the Great North Museum: Hancock, the National Glass Centre in Sunderland and Bowes Museum in County Durham, opening up new arts and cultural opportunities for everyone, especially young people. Funding from Northern Rock Foundation for these major projects was part of a package that included significant funds from government sources including Local Authorities and the regional development agency. Northern Rock Foundation also provided approximately £24 million over this period for the delivery of culture and heritage projects, including supporting a broad range of high quality local organisations using the arts and culture to engage vulnerable people in the geographic area the Foundation covers. Examples of grants for community focussed arts support include Helix Arts’ work to engage young offenders, Streetwise Opera’s groundbreaking work with homeless people and Tin Arts’ dance project working with creative people with learning disabilities.

3. Northern Rock Foundation made a significant contribution to the arts and heritage sector over 12 years but most often as a partner, not as a sole funder. In many cases the Foundation was an early funder, providing the basis to lever in other funding, and Foundation grants were often offered in the expectation that other funders would also contribute. The Foundation’s funds were also often offered to support those parts of a project that were not suitable or attractive to other funders such as artists’ fees. The Foundation’s grants were therefore usually one amongst a number of other funders including significant contributions from public sector sources for example lottery funding , local authority funding , regional development agency funding or Arts Council revenue funding. Recent research commissioned by the Foundation from the University of Southampton, working with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, shows that, even with smaller projects, philanthropic funding is frequently part of a package of funding from a range of sources.

4. The Foundation operated specific grant programmes supporting arts and heritage for seven years, 2003 – 2009. In 2009, in response to the impact of the recession in the North East and Cumbria the Foundation’s Trustees carried out a review of grant priorities and made the decision to close the Culture and Heritage programme in December 2009. Northern Rock Foundation’s work is currently concentrated on combating the effects of deprivation and poverty on vulnerable people. The Foundation continues to support arts and culture projects, that can address these issues directly, through its other grant programmes but on a much smaller scale than previously.

September 2010