Funding boost for village hall tours

A touring scheme that brings a variety of entertainment to village halls across Northumberland has secured national funding.

Highlights has been given a three-year funding package of £359,400 to run until 2018, in partnership with Arts Out West, which covers West Cumbria.

The grant was awarded by Arts Council England after Highlights was named one of 670 arts organisations in its new National Portfolio of regularly funded organisations. The touring scheme works with a network of 85 venues across Northumberland, Cumbria and Durham.

In Northumberland alone there are 25 volunteer promoters in communities, including Hepscott, Middleton and Todridge, Matfen and Wingates, who work with Highlights to select, promote and host a range of entertainment, from theatre, music and dance to storytelling, children’s shows and contemporary crafts.

Highlighs Co-Director Barbara Slack said: “This is great news for Highlights and for the communities we serve. This funding ensures that we can continue to bring the very best in small-scale touring from regional and national performance companies into the heart of rural Northumberland. It allows us longer-term planning to be able to build on our success to date and, together with county council funding, ensures our foreseeable future.

“It’s not all plain sailing from here. With continued budget cuts in public spending, we will be looking to secure other revenue streams, such as sponsorship, to continue our current level of activity.” Arts Council England is responsible for distributing public money from the Government and National Lottery to provide art and culture for everyone.