From inventive ways to boost arts and creativity to social enterprises set up in housing estates, Newcastle and the north east are not short of ideas for plugging the funding gap and helping build its local economy. Here’s 10 of the best ideas for change:
1. Seven Stories: Ensuring books are accessible to all children: Seven Stories is the National Centre for Children’s Books and is based in a seven storied former grain warehouse in the Ouseburn area of Newcastle. Established in 1996 as part of the regeneration of the then derelict Ouseburn area, it operates as a charity with a key aim of making books accessible to children and young people in the local area and beyond. It houses a collection of children’s literature and runs a wide range of learning and outreach activities: http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/
2. Live Theatre: Moving beyond arts funding cuts: A writer’s theatre where many of the UK’s TV and theatre scriptwriters come to develop and nurture their talent, Newcastle’s Live Theatre is now increasingly a social enterprise. It has bought up neighbouring buildings – it now owns a gastropub and office units – and ploughs the proceeds back into its social programmes. Its most ambitious project – Live Works – is almost complete and will see the creation of a new cultural hub in the city including a children’s and young people’s writing centre. http://www.live.org.uk/
3. Sage Foundation: Taking corporate social responsibility up a level: The Sage Foundation was launched last month by the software business Sage. It has created a 2+2+2 model of philanthropy whereby it will donate 2% of employee time to volunteering each year (5 days per employee) as well as 2% of free cash flow and it will offer 2 of its software products to social enterprises and charities.
4. Breeze Creatives: Building a creative economy from a former office block: Housed in a nine-storey former office building that is part of an area scheduled for demolition, Breeze Creatives offers studio space for artists and arts organisations at low rates. It also houses the north east branch of Arts Emergency, which provides mentors for young artists. http://breezecreatives.com/
5. Labelled: Using a high street shop to provide skills training for young people: From Darlington-based social enterprise Patchwork People, Labelled is a high street shop which offers training and development opportunities to young people with high support needs. Young people are taught business and social skills by working in and creating products for sale within the shop. The organisation is now franchising the social brand for other organisations to replicate the model. http://www.patchworkpeople.org.uk/index.html
Clare Goff is former Editor of New Start magazine