Category Archives: ACE news

Art of Destination: Sunshine, Souvenir and Skyping Shanghai

Lucy Green, MPA’s project manager for the event, recalls Art of Destination. 

The Art of Destination conference we held at Brockholes at the end of March was a fantastic success, and I think we’ve all just about recovered from the busy lead up to the event. Thanks to everyone who came along and who contributed, Lancashire County Council for commissioning the conference, and Arts Council for supporting it.

The invited speakers gave a great range of perspectives on their very own Art of Destination – we had Laurie Peake talking about some wonderful artists she has worked with through Liverpool BiennialSteve Messam skyping us from Shanghai to talk about his current projects; Assemble collective describing their fantastic self-initiated work Cineroleum and Folly for a Flyover, and international artist Marco Dessardo explaining his unique approach to creating site-specific work in a traditional gallery space.

Highlights were the beautiful sunny weather we were delighted to have for the day (let’s hope there is more to come!) and the fantastic turn-out that gave us the suitably eclectic audience mix we were hoping for, which really spanned the arts, culture, tourism and regeneration sectors: artists, architects, arts officers, designers, curators, County Councillors and commissioners were all in attendance.

The low point was the fact that Steve Messam’s wonderful piece Souvenir, commissioned by LCC especially for the event, was sadly damaged by vandals soon after it had been installed earlier in the week.  The first showing of the work in the UK following presentations in Shanghai and Venice, by the day of the conference it was far from its original wonderful and ethereal state.  However, some fantastic images remain of Souvenir, so we’re glad that we were at least able to document its fleeting existence so we could share it with the audience who attended, as well as show it online.

Audience feedback rated Brockholes as a fantastic venue, and it’s one we would definitely recommend as conference hosts as well. The conference venue itself is a large, spacious room with beautiful views over the water, and forms part of the Visitor Village that is floating on the lake at the reserve.  An amazing piece of architecture in some lovely landscape, the Village and surrounding site is well worth a visit.  Also, just as importantly, Brockholes passed the conference-goers ultimate test – brilliant catering!

You can see more details of the event and images here.


Scorpions In My Head

David Smith from our Education team comments about the past couple of weeks after the news came in from ACE at the end of March….

What a bad week that was from Wednesday morning with that dreadful news….not an increase in funding, not the same, not even a reduction but no funding from the next round from Arts Council England. All kinds of recriminations and thoughts of conspiracy theories creep like scorpions through my head. The mass of supporting tweets, verbal messages and e-mails as the news filters through remind us of the good will that lies out there somewhere…but on the Friday morning the disappointment was still there, like a nagging groin injury…

…and yet Friday really was another day which came with a breath of fresh air, news of Steph’s success, our Education Co-ordinator – she has her PhD; enough to lift all our spirits…why? …because it is a reminder that this is such a talented team; a team which brought Panopticons and Land, inspirational artwork in Contemporary Heritage and the Valley of Stone, and the Padiham Greenway – all to new audiences in Pennine Lancashire and beyond….

Today, Monday is another day, the start of another week…onwards and upwards…

Arts Council Funding Decisions – Disappointments for MPA and for Lancashire

Wednesday 30 March

Mid Pennine Arts announces today that it has not been successful in its bid for Arts Council portfolio funding for the three-year period from April 2012.

The Pennine Lancashire organisation was bidding for funding from central government alongside 1330 arts companies across the country. The Arts Council announced all results at 10am this morning. Only half the applicants have been successful, as the Arts Council implements a projected 29% cut in its funds.  MPA is one of 206 established clients to lose support.

MPA has been responsible for leading major projects like the Panopticons series of new landmarks, which has won national awards and attracted national and international attention to Pennine Lancashire. The Panopticons are featuring on two national TV programmes this spring.

MPA Creative Director Nick Hunt said:

“We are very proud of MPA’s work, a long history of achieving extraordinary creative results while working in some of the UK’s most deprived communities. So of course we are deeply disappointed by the Arts Council decision.

MPA’s funding, however, is secure for the year ahead, and we have some very exciting projects taking shape. In June we launch the second commission in the Contemporary Heritage series at Clitheroe Castle. Projects led by young people – the Project Pride series supported by Heritage Lottery Fund – are just kicking off in three Pennine Lancashire towns. There is much more in store, and while the coming year’s programme unfolds we will also be planning for how we operate in the future.

MPA has been active for 45 years and was here before the Arts Council’s North West operation. It represents a partnership approach to enriching the cultural life of our communities, and that will be ever more vital in these tough times. MPA has navigated major changes in the past, and this news represents a fresh challenge for our exceptional team to rise to.

We are grateful for the past support of the Arts Council, and the stalwart support of Lancashire County Council and all our many project partners.

Today we are also thinking about the bigger picture. Congratulations to the companies who have been successful.  There is great news here for some very deserving groups, like our friends at More Music, Burnley Youth Theatre, Spot On, Curious Minds, The Grundy, Art Gene and more.  We are delighted for them.

Our thoughts, though, are mainly with the many excellent arts organisations across England who have heard the same bad news. This includes too many of our colleagues and friends across Lancashire, where culture makes a huge contribution to public life, economy and tourism. It is a sad day for the arts.’


If you require further information please contact Philippa Roddam, Marketing Coordinator on 01282 421986 ext 205 or email

Arts Council Funding Announcements: Our View

By Nick Hunt, Creative Director: Mid Pennine Arts

There have been reports in the local press about the arts funding decisions. The reports are factually accurate, but give a quite distorted view of the mood of the moment amongst arts organisations. All our colleagues in Pennine Lancashire arts companies have been expecting cuts, and planning for them. We know that we will have to take our share of the coming austerity. The Arts Council had advised us to plan for 10% less funding. This is what we were expecting for next year. So it may sound strange to say so, but this week’s news is good news!

The Arts Council is taking a deep cut, but has managed to insulate most of the organisations it regularly supports from the full effect of that. They have also given us comfort by confirming funding for 2011/12 very quickly, at an early stage, so we have a secure year and a half, in which to make plans for a tougher time ahead. On both these counts they have done well by their client companies, and we are grateful to them.

The reports also make it sound like Mid Pennine Arts is the big loser here. Again that gives a false impression. The cut is a standard 6.9% across all client companies. So MPA takes the biggest hit simply because we are the biggest client in Pennine Lancashire. We will continue to receive the largest investment, and in the current climate we are very grateful for that. It represents £175k of inward investment into the economy of Pennine Lancashire, and we will work harder than ever to multiply its value to our local communities.

There are plenty of aspects of the government cuts to be very gloomy about, including today’s news about the Housing Market Renewal programme being stopped dead in its tracks. MPA has had the chance to do some terrific work with Elevate/ Regenerate in HMR areas, and we know what a blow this is for those neighbourhoods.

But the arts funding news means that some brilliant local companies can stop the sleepless nights for a while, and can plan ahead to continue making a big contribution to the lives of our local communities. The glass is at least half full!