Funding inspiration: How North Shields Cultural Quarter bursary grants are helping local artists

Artists and creative businesses in North Tyneside are using bursary grants from North Shields Cultural Quarter to explore new avenues in their work.

This round of funding has closed and successful applicants are now putting their awards to good use.

The bursaries offer up to £1,000 for people to overcome financial barriers to gain new skills and follow different paths in their creative work. It could be used to cover costs such as travel, materials, equipment, course fees, childcare or support for a disability.

North Shields singer-songwriter Liam Fender received a bursary award as a contribution towards production equipment.

Liam said: “I usually work with a producer in the studio, but studio time is money and being signed to a small indie record label means that time is limited.

“The bursary grant from North Shields Cultural Quarter will help me buy the same audio interface as my producer uses, meaning I can work on tracks in my own personal space. Then I can spend as much time as I like on production and do it spontaneously, rather than booking a studio in advance.

“On a collaborative level, it means can contribute to more things within the North Shields collective.

“There is more and more happening here, a real creative buzz around Shields in terms of music and other many other art forms.

“We don’t always need to travel to Newcastle now, there are brilliant gigs happening in North Shields all the time, lots of people making amazing music.

“The Cultural Quarter has come at the right time to fund and support that and help turn all this talent into something positive for the town’s economy.”

Helen Pailing is an artist-maker based in the new North Shields Hastie Burton studio. She creates sculptures from reclaimed materials including salvaged glass and has work in private and public collections including The V&A and National Glass Centre.

She is using her bursary award to exhibit her work at the International Festival of Glass in Stourbridge in the West Midlands this summer.

Helen said: “This is a great opportunity for me as an artist. I was personally invited by the curator to exhibit, it will allow my work to be more widely seen and it will feature in the prestigious exhibition catalogue. But it costs money to ship my work, and to pay for my own travel and accommodation. It’s always a case of weighing up what you can afford to do. Getting the bursary grant from North Shields Cultural Quarter is absolutely brilliant.

“My new studio in North Shields is great, I’m part of a place where lots of creative things are going on and bubbling up. It allows me to dedicate time to my work and gives me the space I need.

“My current commission is a large-scale sculpture using salvaged Meccano, for one of Middlesbrough's 'Most Creative Train Station' commissions. It measures 4m by 5m, so an affordable and spacious studio was essential.”

A bursary is helping local award-winning holistic therapist Ali Avery pay for an accredited drum facilitator course that will take her therapeutic drumming groups to the next level.

Ali said: “I have a real passion for my groups especially working with dementia recovery. I build drumming groups where we really support and nourish each other. Music, drums and community is what holds people together so we can grow and heal. 

“North Shields Cultural Quarter really understood my vision and lifetime goal of changing the world one drumming group at a time.”

Cllr Carl Johnson, Deputy Mayor for North Tyneside and cabinet member responsible for Regeneration, Economic Development and Culture said: “North Shields Cultural Quarter is all about help the town’s economy thrive. It’s a way of regenerating the area by investing in our fantastic creative businesses and attracting new ones.

“The bursary funding grants are relatively small sums of money, but we’ve focussed them where they can make a sustainable difference. Financial barriers often stop people taking a risk and making a leap into a new way of working.

“By giving our artists and creative workers the means to gain new skills and branch out in new directions, we invest in their future success. That is good news for the whole of North Shields.”

The North Shields Cultural Quarter bursary scheme will reopen later in 2024. Please see our socials channels and on our website for updates.

Applications are now open for the North Shields Cultural Quarter Projects and Events Fund.

A project could be a physical piece of art, a digital projection, a poetry, play, dance or music project or participatory arts activity. An event could be a play, dance, poetry or music performance for stage, TV or radio, an outdoor arts activity or community event.  

Funding is up to the value of £10,000, this might be the full cost of the project or event or might be a contribution to the overall costs.

This project is part funded by the by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and the North of Tyne Combined Authority Investment Fund with the North of Tyne Combined Authority as the lead authority.

North Shields Cultural Quarter is part of the North of Tyne Culture and Creative Zone programme.