“Most people understand that without culture it is impossible to breathe new life in towns and communities. Sometimes the very presence of cultural element gives an impetus for restoration and renaissance, which the proud residents of Newcastle and Gateshead will no doubt confirm,” said the UK’s former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Tessa Jowell.
Thirty years ago when Brendan Oswald, head of the British Council Teaching Centre in Ukraine, lived and studied in Newcastle, an industrial city in the north east of England, he couldn’t even imagine that now it would be associated with a powerful artistic community, significant investments in its cultural sector and stable economic growth as a result of creative industries development.
Thanks to the partnership between its municipal authority with the neighbouring Gateshead and the launch of national lottery and external contributions directed to culture and arts, a cultural infrastructure of the city was created, new artistic institutions were built, and the entire region became one of the most progressive cultural centres in the world.
It is at this time that the Angel of the North, a large-scale sculpture by Antony Gormley became a symbol of the region’s renaissance. It is an unusual combination of engineering and design portraying the industrial heart of the region, its future expectations and opportunities.
From the beginning of the regeneration programme for NewcastleGateshead the number of those who regularly visit cultural events has grown from 15 to 26%, nearly matching the UK average. The number of visitors to art galleries and exhibition centres has also grown from 15 to 35%; but the key point is that after thirty years of investments in culture 80% of the residents polled recognized that taking away the artistic component from the region would produce a negative impact on the local population (compared to 70% in London and an average of 62% for the UK overall).
Experts note three reasons for the success of the NewcastleGateshead project: investment in cultural infrastructure and support of the diversity of cultural forms; the active involvement of the local population in the artistic life of the region; and financial support directed only to viable and sustainable projects.
We believe that Newcastle and Gateshead have a lot in common with Ukraine in terms of history and culture. They can share the necessary knowledge and instruments we can use to transform Ukrainian cities and enrich the artistic environment.