Wor Culture Themes 2022-23

Hello Everyone,

We’re getting in touch to introduce ourselves from the University and to start to shape plans for Wor Culture from this autumn onwards. As you may know Vee Pollock is away on research leave now until August 2023 and the University have asked us both to lead on Wor Culture until she gets back. We’ve added short biographies below, so you have a better idea of who we are.   

As things stand, we’re thinking of setting up a mix of online and in person events and as previously would be very keen to hear from you as themes and concerns emerge so we can work together on the planning and the curating. Do please get in touch if there are areas you’d like us to think about and indeed with thoughts on people we might want to invite. You can contact us directly or share your thoughts by using the short form on the following link https://bit.ly/3QM19t9

We’re both very much looking forward to working with you in shaping how Wor Culture develops in the coming year.

With best wishes,
James Annesley and Kirsten Gibson

James Annesley’s background is in literature and before covering Vee as Acting Dean for Culture and the Creative Arts, he was Head of the School of English at Newcastle (2013 – 2020).  In that role, he gained wide experience working with cultural partners (particularly literature focussed organisations like Seven Stories and Bloodaxe Books), local authorities, regional SMEs and freelancers and has a lot of experience supporting activity in your sector.   


Kirsten Gibson’s background is in music, and before taking on the role of Associate Dean of Engagement and Place for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences during Vee’s research leave, she was Head of Music at Newcastle (2018-2021). In that role she worked closely with Vee and a range of cultural partners and freelancers devising and delivering partnership work and engagement projects within Music (including with Music Partnership North, Samling Academy, Nordoff Robbins, Sage Gateshead and Opera North). 


Add your voice to the Wor Culture skills symposium

As part of the keynote for Wor Culture: The workforce of the future/the future of the workforce on 7th July we are asking attendees, speakers and the wider sector to film a short video (no more than 2mins) answering the following two questions:

What is the biggest challenge facing the creative workforce? And what is your greatest hope?

Please read the guide below on capturing your footage and send your completed videos to alwaysalexayre@gmail.com using wetransfer.com



How it should look:

  • Please film all content in LANDSCAPE, meaning the phone is turned on its side. This is super-important, so we don’t end up with inconsistency in image sizes throughout the film. Some platforms are tailored to portrait/vertical videos (like IG Stories and Facebook Stories), but for this film we’ll be presenting our footage as 1920×1080.

  • Try not to film anything in too dark of a space, and make use of natural light where possible. For example, you might want to film your subject and use a main window to cast daylight onto their face…BUT be careful not to silhouette them in a dark space with a window overexposed behind them.
  • Be sure to give at least a couple of seconds after pressing record, before any action takes place, and the same again at the end. This allows enough time to cut into the footage in the edit (the equivalent of allowing time to call “action” on a film set).

How it should sound:

  • Please film all interviews in a quiet space, where there is minimal background noise such as traffic, or chatter. Make sure any background televisions or sound systems are switched off. Because of the lower quality microphones on phones and tablets – where possible, avoid conducting interviews outside because of wind distortion.
  • If time, have a brief listen back to your interviews after you’ve filmed them, to make sure people’s voices are clearly recorded.

Any questions please contact leila.daronville@gmail.com

If you haven’t registered for the event yet you can do so here

Wor Culture: The workforce of the future/the future of the workforce
7th July @ The Core Newcastle

Wor Culture 2022

Thank you again to everyone who attended Wor Culture events in 2021 and sent in your feedback about the series so far. We are delighted to announce some dates for our programme in 2022, including our first in-person events which will offer an opportunity to network and as always we encourage the sector to put forward ideas for content to shape the programme going forward.

See you in 2022!

Are Artists the Future of the High Street? (Online)
Thursday 13th January 12.30 – 14.00
This event is BSL Interpreted

The future of the High Street is on everyone’s lips, as more and more shoppers move online. What can artists and creatives bring to ensure town centres don’t die?

In the North East, Creative Enterprise Zones (CEZs) are being scoped in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland as one way to support the long-term development of the culture and creative sector and to help reimagine our urban and rural centres.

In this session we hear from Matt Baker about Mid Steeple Quarter in Dumfries. Matt will discuss the core project of Midsteeple Quarter, which is to enable the community of Dumfries to take the lead in the re-development of a block in the heart of the town to shape a new future for the town centre that is responsive to the needs of the community and run for their benefit. The local community have developed the vision through consultations dating back to 2011, and with the active support of Dumfries and Galloway Council and numerous other local and national partners.

Feedback from previous Wor Culture Events have meant we have chosen to have fewer presentations with more time for discussions. These discussions will be based around 3 main themes.

Creative Enterprise Zones: What kind of mechanisms are needed to ensure CEZs/creative hubs embed within and grow the cultural ecology of the places in which they are located? How can the high street/cultural hubs/CEZs create the conditions to enable the cultural sector to stabilise and grow through and after the pandemic?

Representative: What do we need to ensure that the development of CEZs/cultural hubs are representative and respond to local need?

Distinctiveness: How can rethinking the high street to counter the monotony of same-old high street stores draw on and develop local distinctiveness? Beyond CEZs or cultural hubs, how else can artists shape the high street? What is needed to enable this?


*Sector Suggestion* (Online)
Thursday 10th March 12.30 – 14.00

Please share your suggestions for themes, speakers and content or put yourself forward to contribute by emailing bob.allan@ncl.ac.uk  

Hold the date!

Wor Culture Networking Lunch @ The Core
Thursday 28th April 12.30 – 14.00

Wor Culture will facilitate an in-person networking event at The Core, Bath Lane featuring quick fire presentations, pre-recorded videos and written content to inform discussion around sector challenges and opportunities.

Please share your suggestions for themes, speakers and content or put yourself forward to contribute by emailing bob.allan@ncl.ac.uk  

Hold the date!

Wor Culture is a forum for discussing issues relating to the culture and creative sectors in the North East, and contribute to shaping its future. The gathering is facilitated by Newcastle University but we strongly encourage the sector to propose topics for discussion, join in the debate, or offer to lead a session.

Wor Culture is able to support attendance at events through small bursaries to assist with travel and childcare. Please email bob.allan@ncl.ac.uk

Sharing some new research

I’m sure that many of you have been keeping up-to-date with the various reports that have been emerging about the impact of Covid on our cultural and creative industries. We know that many of you have been adversely impacted by the pandemic, and so for many this is lived experience. The Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre, led by NESTA, draws together expertise from the academic and cultural sector to provide independent research and policy recommendations for the UK’s creative industries. Their principal areas of work include: creative clusters and innovation; skills, talent and diversity; IPR, business models and access to finance; arts, culture and public service broadcasting, international competitiveness (led by Newcastle University Business School), and a number of cross-cutting themes.

During the pandemic they, and other organisations including the Creative Industries Federation, have been undertaking research and advocacy relating to the impact of the pandemic on the cultural and creative industries. Today, they have released findings from one of these research projects carried out in partnership with the Centre for Cultural Value, led by Leeds University. The results are devastating. Headline findings report that in the six months following the first lockdown 55,000 jobs were lost from the creative industries, and that the percentage of people leaving creative occupations was significantly higher than in previous years. While job losses and people leaving creative occupations are perhaps, sadly, expected, what this lays bare is the scale of the crisis that has to be faced – it provides considered analysis of the job losses for the creative industries as a whole, and specifically for the cultural sector (which the blog highlights has been most heavily hit), and the impact of the pandemic on the number of hours worked by those who were employed in the sector. We can all think through the potential implications of this on the sector – skills loss, the loss of expertise and knowledge, the impact on our cultural ecology and way of working…as a start. The blog report on the PEC site is the first in a series which will look at the emerging data and will begin to consider what it is telling us. Importantly, the teams are also looking at the lived experience and direct impact on those affected and more will emerge soon. All of this is important in helping us to better understand and support the cultural community moving forward.

Thinking about ‘value’

In November, the Centre for Cultural Value, led by Leeds University, launched its first – and hopefully not last – ‘Festival of Ideas’ over almost two weeks about 1000 people from the cultural and creative industries, community groups, and academia engaged in fascinating discussions on a variety of topics centered around the theme: Whose Culture? Topics ranged from: what culture will look like post-CV19, participation and collaboration, the thorny issue of evaluation, young people and mental health, how to use research to influence policy, and failure. A reflection on the event by the Centre’s Director Ben Walmsley can be found here and, importantly, some sign-posting on what’s next. You can catch up on, or revisit, some of the panel presentations and discussions on the CCV’s YouTube stream – well worth a listen.

Ben’s blog picks up on many of the points that struck me from the sessions: a sense amongst many for the pressing need for change, radical change, in the cultural sector; concerns around power and where power lies within existing structures but also where it could lie were things to be disrupted. There was a recognition that we don’t know a lot of the things we need to know, that there’s a need for embracing failure and adopting risk, and a need to look beyond the data (without disregarding it entirely).

Many discussions were fuelled equally by frustration, imagination and a sense of possibility which, in what were generally 90minute sessions on zoom was quite a point to reach. The sessions I attended were generally comprised of a series of short panel presentations and discussion, breakout rooms with about three people for ten minutes tasked with responding to particular questions, these were then relayed in the chat, and the Chairs did an impressive juggling act of drawing questions from the chat, their own expertise and experience, and from those attending to draw out a closing discussion.

What struck me most, however, was how, in the events I attended, there was a real sense of a cultural community with a range of expertise coming together around shared points of interest and concern. There was no sense of ‘knowledge exchange’ which sometimes plagues events, but much more a sense of collective thinking and a community of practice and purpose – much like we’ve tried to generate through Wor Culture. What was impressive here was that this was global – the 1000 attendees came not only from across sectors (academic, cultural, community and many others) but also from across the world. I don’t think it can be underestimated what an achievement that was and I look forward to doing what we can to support the CCV team as they take their work forward. Do sign up to their newsletter to keep in the loop.

Summer catch up

Sorry to have been rather lax in posting – it’s been a busy summer for us all. Huge thanks to my colleague Professor Richard Clay for hosting the last two Wor Culture events – for further information, and to hear the presentations, grab a cuppa and have a look at our sway summaries which bring together captioned videos of the presentations and notes from the chat and breakout groups.

This blog is hopefully another way we can share ideas, post challenges, thoughts, reflections and provocations about arts and culture in the North East. If you’d be interested in contributing to the Blog please let us know.

Culture Post-COVID19

The need to think and work differently were key themes that ran through discussions at our first Wor Culture event. We welcomed 53 participants from across the culture and creative sectors to discuss how we can support the sector as we transition from COVID19. Presentations were given by Matthew Jarratt from the North East Cultural Partnership on their Recovery and Resilience Plan, a live document and process focusing on leveraging support for the sector from local and national agencies, and Laura Rothwell, Founder and Managing Director of Cystallised who have been carrying out a national longitudinal survey on how we value culture, and how audiences are feeling, on the journey through the current pandemic. Their presentations and a summary of discussions can be found by looking at our ‘past events’. With the largest section of participants opting for our ‘opportunities’ breakout group and feedback requesting a more focused discussion on ‘how to make it happen’, on the actual making of work, that will be the focus of our next session.

The North East has the scale and networks to realise coordinated, collective thinking about the action and changes we need to make. Hopefully this platform can play a part in that.

Welcome to Wor Culture

Wor Culture is a discussion forum, a gathering, where people can come together to talk about issues relating to the arts, culture and the creative industries in the North East. Topics are drawn from suggestions by colleagues in the cultural sector and we invite you to lead, contribute to or attend sessions, supported by our Engagement team. Wor Culture aims first and foremost to be a discussion forum, underpinning this is a desire to ensure that the multiple voices in our conversations are heard at a strategic level. To enable this we produce a record of our presentations and conversations which is disseminated to attendees, regional networks, strategic bodies and made available on this website.