6 June 2014

Possibility of Sill Art takes a big step forward thanks to funding

The Sill project has been awarded a grant from Arts Council England, to develop plans for the integration of art inspired by the landscape of Northumberland National Park through The Sill Project.

The Arts Council England grant of £13,500, provided through its National Lottery-funded Grants for the arts programme, is a major boost for the initiative, enabling the team to develop an arts strategy which incorporates plans for a series of high quality artworks as an integral part of the landscape-based interpretation at The Sill site itself and across Northumberland National Park. These will be accompanied by the development of a programme of arts activities and public engagement with the arts.

The Falstone Stell - courtesy of David Taylor 

Through the Arts Council-funded Bridge North East, The Sill team now also has a framework on which to build a programme of qualifications and skills offered by the Arts Award scheme. This accredited initiative engages young people aged between five and 25 in being inspired by and participating in art, and will become part of the core activity programme offered from The Sill. The relationship between art and the unique landscape of Northumberland National Park will become an integral part of the Sill project.

The team have already started working with organisations including Sage Gateshead and Newcastle University Northumbrian Exchanges programme to develop events and activities centred on the region's cultural heritage. The Arts funding will help support the development of The Sill's wider artistic strategy which aims to offer visitors and local communities the chance to relate to the whole of the National Park landscape, people, heritage and history.

Award-winning Northumbrian art curator Peter Sharpe has been brought in by NNPA and YHA to lead on the research and development work which will shape The Sill's future arts programme. The development of these plans will take inspiration from previous examples of art in the National Park which have proven to increase engagement and resonate with the community. For example, The Falstone Stell, a permanent piece of artwork developed through community work with artist Colin Wilbourn, has created an ongoing legacy, still appreciated by visitors and the local community, years after its creation.

Peter Sharpe said: "The opportunity to develop an art programme for such a prestigious project as The Sill is very exciting. The Sill will offer artists access and insight into Northumberland National Park's landscape, communities and history, and their work will add an extra creative dimension to the many ways in which The Sill will enable people to enjoy and learn about this unique part of England."

One of the fundamental aims of The Sill is to engage with young people, inspiring them to discover and learn about the landscape and its importance, and, as part of the development phase of the project supported by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the project team have been driving forward an activity programme built around this objective. This has already resulted in a series of cultural performances from acclaimed folk musican Shona Mooney in both rural and urban settings, along with a landscape photography competition which has attracted an overwhelming standard of entries around the region and further afield. With support from such high profile arts organisations, schools and youth groups would have the opportunity to build their artistic confidence and be offered ways to respond creatively to their environment.

Internationally acclaimed musician and composer, Kathryn Tickell, who is a Project Champion of The Sill, said: "Gaining extra support to help bolster the quality of art programmes on offer at The Sill is great news. It is so important to make the most of the beautiful surroundings of Northumberland National Park to hone the creative talents of youngsters. As a I child, I gained so much musical inspiration from all aspects of the local landscape and The Sill will ensure that future generations will continue to be inspired artistically in the same way."

Project champion Kathryn Tickell  

Tony Gates, Chief Executive of Northumberland National Park Authority, said: "The Sill is a nationally significant project and we are delighted to have received Arts Council funding which will help us maximise its extraordinary potential. As an organisation, we believe very working with the arts.

"The Sill Landscape Discovery Centre will represent a major step-change people are inspired by and engaged with landscape and the arts have an important role to play in this."

Jane Tarr, Director North, Arts Council England, said: "I'm pleased that the Arts Council is helping to fund the development of an arts strategy for The Sill project. It is an exciting new concept in terms of cultural experience and the plans to work with young people will encourage them to engage with the arts and create a wider audience for the project. I'm looking forward to seeing how the project develops."

The development phase of The Sill project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Northumberland National Park Authority and YHA are seeking to secure an additional £3.5million in funding for the full project costs and to make their vision for The Sill a reality, the project needs your support. You can support The Sill by volunteering, attending one of the project's consultation events or making a donation towards the £3.5million target. If you are interested in getting involved, contact The Sill team on thesill@nnpa.org.uk

You can also find The Sill on Facebook or follow The Sill on Twitter @thesillproject

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