FEATURE: Reasons To Be Cheerful #1 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: RNS is Curious, Sage Gateshead, from 2019 festival. Peter Groom by Veronika Marx

In the first of our serialised editions of Reasons to be Cheerful, we’re focusing on where you can donate to crowdfunders, charity projects, engage with communities and take advantage of opportunities available for artists and creatives…

If you’d like to tell our readers your news, please get in touch: [email protected].

As things seem to be changing on a daily basis at the moment, we apologise for any errors or changes to what’s listed here.


Curious Festival is set to celebrate its fifth birthday this year and they are continuing in their mission to develop LGBTQIA+ arts and audiences. They’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign to help make Curious Festival 2020 happen, which will be open until 6th April.

Independent theatre Alphabetti have made an appeal for donations while their income is frozen. Committed to supporting their staff and reopening once the crisis has passed, anything you can spare will be appreciated. www.alphabettitheatre.co.uk

While government assistance may be of some comfort, it’s still a worrying time for our region’s music venues, with many independent businesses still dealing with large overheads just to keep a roof over their heads. Beloved Ouseburn venue The Cluny are staying true to form and promising four weekend showcases of superb live music when life returns back to some semblance of normality. Dates and line-ups are TBC, of course, but they’re encouraging advance tickets to be bought via their Crowdfunder page, for what will no doubt be some of the most anticipated comeback gigs around. Don’t miss out!

Stockton’s Georgian Theatre is the cornerstone of the town’s music scene. It’s not just a historic music venue, it’s also home to Tees Music Alliance who do tremendous work in supporting musicians, audiences and the creative industries, and their work in the community strives to support a thriving music scene in the region. Wholly independent and operating as a not-for-profit business, The Georgian Theatre have started a crowdfunding campaign to help them continue their good work. 

Local treasures like Newcastle Castle, which operate on a charitable basis, will be hit hard by the current situation. Support them until they can reopen their doors by donating a few pounds.

Arguably, without rehearsal rooms there would be no music scene. While our region’s rehearsal spaces are currently closed there may still be ways you can support them. Friends of First Avenue Studios have set up a GoFundMe page to keep the historic space going; celebrating their 30 year anniversary this year, it’s a much-loved local studio with a committed team – give them a hand by chipping in to their Fighting Fund, and consider our other local studios and how you might be able to help them in future.

The Biscuit Factory are aiming to support their team by asking for donations, however small, via their website. Their collections are also available to browse and any online orders are currently still being processed.

The good folks at Sunderland’s Pop Recs Ltd. do a heck of a lot more than provide coffee, chats and the odd record sale from their Stockton Road hub. Now the shop has had to close, we urge you to ‘forward buy’ a coffee or chuck them a few quid via PayPal ([email protected]) to help them keep up their great work when things get back to normal.

South Shields cafe Sea-Change provide sustainable employment for those with autism and learning difficulties, they’ve got a voucher system in place for those who’d like to support them upon reopening as well as a crowdfunding campaign.

The recently established Artist Food Bank Network is a volunteer-run collective of artists, musicians, studios and galleries who banded together to support the Trussell Trust’s local food banks, with organisations hosting collection points for food and non-food items. With the current lockdown situation they’re appealing for donations via their GoFundMe page to raise money for the Trust, with donations being split between Newcastle West End, Newcastle East and Gateshead food banks.

Set up by the Free Trade Inn, the Cumberland Arms and Mean Eyed Cat, a crowdfunding campaign is open to directly support street food traders in the area, It’ll allow people to ‘prepay’ for meals at the pubs’ most regular traders, including Shanty Town, Scream For Pizza, Goodtimes Tacos, Cubanos and Catalinas, once the restrictions have lifted.

Although now closed, the Shoe Tree Cafe in Heaton, Newcastle are developing a doorstep delivery service; they’ve also set up a crowdfunding page to help support their staff, offering vouchers that can be redeemed once the cafe reopens.

Live Theatre are keeping their Creative Opportunities open, ensuring that there will still be productions in the pipeline. Writers for short play event 10 Minutes To… are being sought until 3rd April, the deadline for their £2,000 bursary for story-led theatre-making is open until 30th April, while script submissions for full-length plays are being accepted until 31st May.

For those working as freelancers in the cultural sector, it’s never been more important to stay plugged into networks. The excellent Tyne & Wear Cultural Freelancers Facebook group is a haven of calm, where helpful members post supportive information and advice. It’s also a welcoming place to talk about your own project, particularly with collaboration and feedback in mind.

The Theatre Fans NE page on Facebook is a hub for those who love watching theatre. Masterminded by the folks who ran Jabberwocky Market pop-up theatre events, it’s become a ‘go to’ site for theatre fans and audiences to share resources on online streaming, news about theatre shows in general and theatre-related content and chat.

The Sunderland Indie is a networking site for artists and creatives based in Sunderland. Their aim is to help independent artists in the area promote their practice and network with eachother. An exhibition and performance-based event will take place at Arts Centre Washington from 16th October-7th November.

Newly set up collective Come Together NE aim to provide a support network for artists in the region, with fundraising activities at the heart of their plans. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for developments.

Musician Ruth Patterson of Holy Moly & The Crackers has written a blog post about cutting her latest tour short due to the coronavirus. It’s an honest reflection on her experience of living with disability, and also a heartfelt call to look after those who are chronically ill or disabled and to keep community spirit alive.

There will be many philanthropic enterprises out there attempting to raise money to support people in this difficult time. We’ll keep an eye out for those based in the region and with a focus on the arts. Here’s a couple of goodies:

Artist and producer for Middlesbrough’s Creative Factory, Gordon Dalton has set up an emergency fund for artists on Teesside. Providing a hardship fund for artists, cultural workers, practitioners and creative freelancers that can’t work or have been adversely affected, the Covid Impact Fund For Artists will be available to anyone with a TS postcode. Donate here.

The Community Foundation has set up a Coronovirus Response and Recovery Fund alongside other funders to help support community organisations within the region. Through the fund, they are looking to award grants to local charities and communities, helping to reach those that need the most support.

If you need further advice and the official sites aren’t helping, try our region’s support agencies and experts…

It’s a confusing time for musicians and creatives who may find themselves with cancelled tours, releases put on hold or legal issues to wrangle with. Whatever your query, the good folks at Tees Music Alliance continue to be on hand to offer advice. Drop their resident music experts Chris and Dave an email on [email protected].

Business development agency Generator‘s social media pages continue to post advice and support from the many agencies they work with. Keep an eye on their feeds for updates via Help Musicians, PRS Foundation and more.

Sage Gateshead continue in their commitment to support early career musicians and emerging artists, even when their doors are closed. Throughout April they’re hosting a series of one-to-one advice sessions via phone or video call covering artist career advice, and work-related health issues (both from Thursday 9th April), plus a webinar on keeping well physically, mentally and vocally (Monday 20th April). Also worth a read is Managing Director Abigail Pogson’s emotive blog post ‘This will only exist in the moment…’ The venue are also running a resilience fund, for those who would like to donate.

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