• Claire Venus

Challenges and Opportunities - Culture Northumberland Network Meeting December 2021

Hosted by Amanda Drago of Greencroft Arts and Claire Venus from Culture Northumberland we welcomed four freelance artists to our last online network meeting.


We wanted to hold space for understanding the current challenges and opportunities facing freelancers in the here and now. Although we were small in numbers we welcomed the opportunity to connect.


Here are the notes of the session...



Our current challenges as Northumberland based freelancers include;

  • Geography and communicating the nuance to funders

  • Being/ feeling out of the loop of new opportunities/ ways in/ networking

  • Keeping up and understanding what’s happening in venues

  • How to use seasonal ‘down time’ eg - when town isn't busy with tourist

  • Unpredictable weather

  • Loss of interest in meeting face to face adds to feeling burnt out with online spaces.

  • What do audiences/ participants really want - is there more focus on rural venues now?

  • Schools individual risk assessments including covid-19

  • Contracting covid-19, isolation periods when work is booked

  • Are audiences/ participants reluctant to come back out?

  • New ACE guidelines and match funding

  • Online presence and buy in from our online audiences

  • Burn out, mental load management, isolation.



Our up-coming and ongoing opportunities

  • North East Cultural Freelancers group on facebook co-ordinated and hosted by Leila D'aronville - https://www.facebook.com/groups/culturalfreelancers (2500 members).

  • Artists and Creatives Northumberland group on facebook co-ordinated by Claire Venus - https://www.facebook.com/groups/353456649323500 (80 members and growing).

  • Potential of touring more easily in Spring/ Summer 2022 and planning for this each year in this way.

  • Vaccine security and changes in behaviour, perhaps more ability to plan?

  • Diversifying funding e.g - Wind Farm funds

  • Diversifying programmes eg; Higher Ground, Allendale, Gardening for Mental Health.

  • Queens Hall Hexham has a strong network with Alnwick Playhouse and Arc at Stockton. Perhaps they would be interested in hosting a wider Northumberland network?

  • Local bus companies partnership with audience?

  • Hyper local activism - more passion about access to the arts

  • Syncing up 'here and now' feedback from local residents with the ACE Let’s Create strategy

  • Tynedale Transformed- a network promoting change in Tynedale.

  • Hadrians Wall 1900


Hadrians Wall - (c) Black Carts - Courtesy of Roger Clegg



Perhaps you have challenges or opportunities to add to our list? We'd love to hear from you so we can continue to advocate and connect Northumberland based artists and creatives.


Our next event is called 'If not now then when?' - you can attend for free and read more about it here. Just email hello@culturenorthumberland.co.uk to book your spot.

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