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Record boost for Medway’s cultural sector

A record number of Medway’s creative organisations are celebrating after receiving funding from Arts Council England.

Arts Council England have announced the list of cultural organisations who will receive funding between 2023 and 2026 as part of the National Portfolio Organisations investment programme.

The list includes a record number of Medway organisations with Icon Theatre, Lyrici Arts and GEM (the Group for Education in Museums) joining Ideas Test as part of the programme for the first time alongside The Institute of Culture and Creative Industries at the University of Kent and The Kent and Medway Museum Partnership (led by Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and including The Guildhall Museum in Rochester) and Emergency Exit Arts.

The Arts Council’s National Portfolio provides a backbone of creative and cultural provision across the country and includes The National Theatre and The Royal Opera House.

Their success follows a period of growth and momentum across Medway’s creative and cultural sector which has seen a record number of applications for National Portfolio Organisation status from Medway.

As well as support for organisations based in Medway, the funding will also allow organisations across the country to deliver work in Medway including Attitude Is Everything whose work focusses on connecting disabled people with music and live events. As well as Shubbak, Counterpoints Arts and Cement Fields.

Last year Medway was named as one of 54 Arts Council England Priority Places (one of only two in the south-east), recognising the opportunity and potential to increase investment and engage more people across the area as audiences and participants in creative activity.

The growth of the cultural sector in Medway is underpinned by the 2020-2030 Creative Medway Cultural Strategy. The strategy aims to see Medway internationally recognised for its creativity and culture by 2030 with a diverse, collaborative and engaged cultural sector exemplifying the positive impact culture and creativity has in the lives of local people. 

The coming years will see a significant expansion of cultural activity within Medway across the sector as a whole with Medway Council continuing to support creative and cultural organisations of all sizes to thrive and maximise extraordinary opportunities for local people.

Supporting the ambition and talent of our cultural sector

Cllr Howard Doe, Deputy Leader of Medway Council and Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “We are proud to have so many innovative and diverse creative organisations and individual artists developing and working in Medway. We are committed to supporting the ambition and talent of our cultural sector and the Arts Council England’s funding announcement will enable local organisations to work on a bigger and more ambitious scale which will further benefit Medway’s residents and communities. Culture is central to Medway’s identity and future and we look forward to continuing to support cultural organisations to maximise opportunities for residents to take part in creative and cultural activity and deliver the bold vision set out in the Creative Medway Cultural Strategy.”

Supporting and amplifying all the amazing work of Medway’s creative organisations

Fiona Watt, Chair of Creative Medway, said: “Creative Medway extend immense congratulations to the Medway organisations who were successful in securing funding for the next three years. We look forward to continuing to support and amplify all of the amazing work that Medway’s creative organisations do both within and outside the National Portfolio to enhance lives and provide opportunities for local people.”

Arts Council’s investment will allow:

  • Icon Theatre to continue to create theatre that places local voices and stories centre-stage, and to support people – especially young people – with low or no arts engagement to access theatre opportunities. 
  • Lyrici Arts to champion and represent Black and diverse-led theatre and audiences, and to enable every resident to feel empowered by culture and see nationally-recognised work on their doorstep.
  • Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust to grow Arts Award provision to allow children and vulnerable groups to access creative experiences and increase accessibility, inclusion and representation.
  • The Institute of Culture and Creative Industries at University of Kent to develop the Docking Station as a state-of-the-art immersive digital gallery and new digital hub for the cultural and creative industries as well as to bring high quality creative engagement programme to Medway providing opportunities for skills development and participation.

The Arts Council announcement comes in the wake of the news that Medway creative businesses will be able to benefit from a £7million funding pot and an investment-readiness programme to help expand, scale and attract investment as part of the government’s Create Growth Programme.

The south-east was one of only six regions in England to receive support from the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport, recognising the value and potential of the region’s creative industries.

Medway has also been selected as a focus area for the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport’s Creative Careers Programme which will help young people from underrepresented backgrounds break into the creative industries. The £950,000 programme developing the next generation of the UK’s creative talent will include careers information, advice and skills development.

Find out more about Creative Medway, the organisation delivering Medway’s Cultural Strategy in partnership with us or follow them on social media (@CreativeMedway)