Portas team win £10K grant from Arts Council

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BERWICK’S Portas town team has secured a £10,000 grant from the Arts Council.

The successful bid was put together by town team member Andrew Marshall with support from James Lowther, head of visual arts at The Maltings.

The Arts Council grant will be matched with £10,000 from Berwick’s Portas prize and £10,000 from Northumberland County Council.

Mr Marshall said: “The proposal includes screen printing workshops and pop up shops.

“We plan to commission Northern Print Studio, which is based in Newcastle, to come up to Berwick to run a series of workshops over several months.

“The hope is that it will appeal to young people and established artists who will be able to design and create posters and T-shirts and then sell them, probably using one of the empty premises on the high street.”

It is anticipated some of the designs would incorporate the Beautiful Berwick brand on which the Portas team based their successful bid.

The idea is being seen as a pilot project which could be rolled out in other Portas towns in other parts of the country.

“We’re really encouraging artists of all backgrounds to get involved, or even just those who want to do a T-shirt design and sell it,” said Mr Marshall.

Arts Council England is supporting the Portas process nationwide by offering advice, expertise and potentially grant support to help develop the cultural and artistic elements of planning the pilots.

Berwick was one of 15 towns selected to become a Mary Portas pilot town in the second phase of the scheme in July, winning a £100,000 prize to help rejuvenate the town centre. That prize was subsequently matched by the county council.

The Berwick town team plan to improve shop fronts, signage, seating and advertising space on the high street and plan to invest a sizeable chunk of the money in Berwick’s Wednesday and Saturday market by attracting more local stall holders. It is also receiving advice and support to encourage greater business growth.

The initiative follows an independent review into town centres by retail expert Ms Portas, commissioned by the government last year.

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