Newcastle’s cultural leaders urge the city to spend creatively

Jim Beirne of Live Theatre and Erica Whyman of Northern Stage Jim Beirne of Live Theatre and Erica Whyman of Northern Stage

Two cultural heavyweights have joined forces to persuade other Newcastle arts venues to cooperate to make their small budgets go further.

Arts bosses Jim Beirne of Live Theatre and Erica Whyman of Northern Stage are backing ambitious plans to see Newcastle cultural businesses invest in a new scheme, which could help their plays, performances and exhibitions reach valuable new audiences.

The pair are supporting a campaign to see Newcastle become a Business Improvement District (BID) which, if successful, would see the arts businesses coming together to contribute to a central pot for city improvements, including targeted marketing and PR campaigns.

Despite over £200m being spent on new and redeveloped cultural buildings in the last ten years, many of the organisations behind the new facades often struggle with small or non-existent marketing and promotional budgets.

Jim explains: “I believe that the BID offers an opportunity to kick-start the next stage of regeneration in Newcastle by giving all businesses, whatever their shape or size, a strong voice for change.

“As a small business, the cost of the BID to us will not be great, but as our contribution is pooled with those of other businesses across the city centre, the impact will be far greater.”

Contributions from businesses and matched funding would be spent according to a democratic vote, with an estimated £15m available to spend on BID priorities over the initial five year term. Funds raised by the BID would be democratically voted on by contributing businesses, and held by the independent BID company, and be over and above expenditure already guaranteed from the city council.

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