1 April 2015

Sill project awarded £50k Arts Council England grant


Northumberland National Park Authority and YHA (England and Wales) are celebrating after being awarded a £50,000 Arts Council England grant, to help people discover the possibilities of art through the Sill. 

The grant will be used to support the development of ‘Poems in the Air’, an exciting new permanent digital project from acclaimed poet Simon Armitage, which will connect the many elements of Northumberland National Park’s ancient landscapes with modern day technology. 

Thanks to the funding, people of all ages will be able to access ‘Poems in the Air’ at a number of sites throughout the park from late autumn this year. Encompassing some of the many unique aspects of the National Park, from its wildlife and rare flora, to history, geography and language, a series of site-specific poems will be created by Simon Armitage. 

To experience these unique snapshots of the landscape, visitors will make their way to specific locations, where they will be able to activate recordings of Simon Armitage reading his poems on their mobile phone or tablet. The project has been designed to create a series of personal and special moments, with the poems unable to be accessed by any other means – other than in the very location about which they are written. 

As construction on the Sill national landscape discovery centre gets underway at Once Brewed in the Hadrian’s Wall area of the Park, later this year, the arts initiative is set to support the Sill’s key aims of helping people explore and learn about Northumberland’s finest countryside – before the site is even open for business. 

The funding will also be used in 2015/16, to help deliver two textile artist fellowships, enabling emerging and established textile artists to develop new work in relation to the unique landscape, history and communities of Northumberland National Park. It will support two arts residencies, a programme of special talks and exhibitions and practical Arts Awards opportunities, which will be developed in parallel with the initiative. 

Peter Sharpe, the arts curator managing the project, said: “Through the Arts Council England grant, we have a unique opportunity to establish a new art programme in rural Northumberland, specifically focused on the landscape, history and communities of the Park. 

“It aims to benefit people living, working and visiting the Park as well as the artists who are given the opportunity to develop their practice and make new work in relation to it. When the Sill opens, we expect that one of its attractions will be the way that art projects become a unique means by which people can experience and understand Northumberland’s extraordinary landscape.

“The Arts Awards will also provide opportunities for many young people to experience arts through their engagement with the programme and the artists who work on it.”

The Arts Council England grant is the latest in a string of funding successes for the National Park, including a £7.8m Heritage Lottery Fund award last month.

Andrew Miller, Head of Programmes and Conservation at Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “We are delighted to receive this significant grant from the Arts Council England, on top of our other recent funding successes.

“The Sill project is all about making connections to the landscape and discovering those places that may seem out of reach or difficult to find. One of its main aims is to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the landscape, to the public. We’re keen to use the potential of the arts to help deliver those objectives. 

“The arts are also central to the Sill’s activity plan, which will deliver a comprehensive programme of interpretation, education, research and events. We plan on using this wonderful opportunity to provide a structure through which a diverse range of audience groups can use art to engage with the landscape. 

“We’re very excited to begin rolling out this programme and look forward to welcoming many people to experience this new and nationally significant rural arts initiative.”

Jane Tarr, Director North, Arts Council England, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting this project which we hope will help people make a personal connection with the Sill and with the Northumberland landscape. The Sill is a significant and exciting development in Northumberland, and working with Simon Armitage is a significant and exciting way to mark the start of the art and engagement programme.”

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