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  • Writer's pictureClaire Venus

Alnwick Culture Network

The county has a set of sector led networks in local towns and Alnwick is the next place to join this way of working. You can read more on the culture and heritage network infastructure in Northumberland here.

Earlier in March, I chaired a meeting for the very first Alnwick Based Culture Network. The agenda was focussed on children and young people and we spent the meeting contributing to a SWOT analysis and an action plan!

I'm sharing this here incase it is useful for others working with children and young people in Northumberland. If you have any questions or would like to be part of the next meeting which is focussed around Artist Studio Space in and around the town of Alnwick please drop me a line;

Notes and SWOT analysis

Alnwick Culture Network

A place based network exploring a new theme each meeting. X 4 per year.

The model for the network is that the meetings are kept short and whoever is in the room decides on specific and measurable ACTIONS to take forward.

Meeting One - Alnwick Playhouse

10-11.15am, Thurs 16 March

Chaired by - Claire Venus – (freelance) Culture Northumberland Project, strategic development for CYP at Alnwick Playhouse

· Marjorie Charrada - Integrated Children's Centre Coordinator (Amble, Coquet, Alnwick and Rothbury).NCC Health and Wellbeing Champion. Early Intervention and Prevention,Wellbeing and Community Health Services Group, NCC Children’s Centres

· Ruth McGiven – Marketing, Alnwick Garden

· Damian Cruden – CEO Alnwick Playhouse

· Sarah Mclane – Youth Theatre Director, Alnwick Playhouse

· Diane Wright – Northumberland Libraries

· Dean Jackson – Retired Education, NCC, board of Maltings Berwick

· Louise – Bailgate Museum

· Suzy Walker – Freelance Journalist/ Alnwick Story Fest Director

We celebrated the success of Alnwick Story Fest as a model for children and young people’s engagement. Moving forward, we all want to move toward engaging children and young people in programming and share and join up our marketing messaged and opportunities.

Children and Young People’s Culture Programming in Alnwick should hold the following value…

- High Quality

- Exciting

- Educational

- Creative

- Special

- Impact on wellbeing and sense of self

We talked through our SWOT analysis of where we are now and talked about partnering to put a cultural day for three schools in Alnwick (Culture Fridays) as a pilot in June. We would come back together after delivery of the day.

Alnwick children, young people’s arts development



· Walking distance in-between cultural venues (Alnwick Garden, Castle, Balifgate Museum, Alnwick Library, Alnwick Playhouse)

· Strong relationships with loan boxes for Primary Schools – Balifgate Museum

· Special offers working in some places

· High quality offers across all art forms and culture/ heritage, exceptional programming for children at Alnwick Playhouse. Brilliant experiences at first Alnwick Story Fest.


· Sharing resources and data

· Timeline of school year

to include sats dates and key times to visit for each age group

· Partnership working

· Longer lead in times

· Shared risk assessment

· “Culture Friday”

· The Big Draw

· Working from 0-19

· Developing programming opportunities for young people 11+

· Gatekeepers to children and young people – parents, schools, teens themselves and other teens influencing what’s cool.

· Young writers programmes/ competitions

Weaknesses/ Challenges

· Engagement with Duchess High School and other primary schools post pandemic

· Transport costs for out of town schools into Alnwick £500 + for a coach

· NCC policy – no volunteers under 16.


· Funding and financing and time to work together and reflect.

A date for your diary!

Alnwick Playhouse and Alnwick Garden present

Wind in the Willows

Tickets here

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