SOME of the most influential voices in the arts industry are coming together in a live chat session to offer much-needed funding advice for beleaguered artists and venues in the North East.

Key figures from Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund are among those taking part in the film ‘Funding in a Time of Uncertainty’ as part of a series of five exciting debates and discussions.

The discussion is part of a series entitled Heart of the Matter, a symposium, due to take place over three days in Barnard Castle earlier this year as part of the Northern Heartlands Great Place Scheme. Instead, the discussions have been recorded and will be streamed live on YouTube every Wednesday from August 19.

The series will be widely beneficial to artists and venues seeking funding and survival tips in a sector which has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research on the impact of COVID on the arts industry carried out recently by Oxford Economics predicted a revenue drop of £77 billion for the UK’s creative industries in 2020, with one in five creative jobs (409,000) being lost.

Jill Cole, director, of Northern Heartlands, said: “This is an incredibly difficult time for so many artists and venues which are struggling to survive as a result of the pandemic.

“But with the symposium we have a great opportunity to ask questions of four leading funders in the UK, particularly in light of the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund around which there are questions to be answered. It’s rare to have such influential figures in one place for us to quiz so we’re extremely grateful to them for their support.”

The four leading funders taking part in the first film include:

  • David Renwick, area director North, The National Heritage Lottery Fund
  • Helen Parrott, senior manager for strategic partnerships, skills & workforce, Arts Council England
  • Andrew Barnett, director, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK)
  • Margaret Vaughan, chief operating officer, County Durham Community Foundation

David Renwick said COVID-19 has had a remarkable impact on the funding landscape. “We’ve had to mobilise quickly to meet the immediate needs of the sector in a what has been an incredibly difficult time for groups and organisations who work to showcase the fantastic heritage of the UK,” he said.  “We’re continuing to listen to the sector – to those we have funded in the past, and those that we haven’t – and to try and ensure that we can respond to their needs in the face of the pandemic as best as we possibly can.

“I hope that this event will inspire attendees to engage with The National Lottery Heritage Fund, and that we can work together to evolve our funding approach and ensure a robust and resilient heritage sector that the North of England, and the UK as a whole, can be extremely proud of.”

Independent grant-making foundation CDCF has worked in partnership with Northern Heartlands to support creative arts and community theatre projects in the region. Its chief operating officer Margaret Vaughan said: “It is more important now than ever to support local grassroots volunteer-led groups and ensure they can survive with the benefit of modest micro and community grants available to them.”

Viewers can submit questions in advance or register an account with YouTube to have the chance to ask live questions of the speakers directly via online chat on the night. To attend the event go to

Future events include:

26 August: Working with ‘hard to reach’ communities – artists and researchers Ewan Allinson, David Napthine and Dr Stephen Pritchard in discussion
2 September: Folk music roots: Musicians Saul Rose and Mike Bettison on the quest for the oral traditions of local songs and making folk music cool
9 September: Unwrapping the Present by Exploring the Past – historians Jeremy Lake and Marie Gardiner examine everyday signs in the landscape which tell us stories about the past
16 September: Participatory Art – François Matarasso and Stephen Pritchard in discussion