Record-breaking Results from First Year of Arts Funding at Lincolnshire’s National Portfolio Organisation

29 May 2024

Written by: vsimons

The University of Lincoln’s Centre for Culture and Creativity has delivered record-breaking support to the region’s creative sector within its first year of achieving Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status.

The University of Lincoln’s Centre for Culture and Creativity has delivered record-breaking support to the region’s creative sector within its first year of achieving Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status.


As only one of 12 universities in the UK to receive NPO funding, the Centre has empowered its cultural assets to deliver unprecedented results and has ambitious plans for the following year.  


The funding so far has supported the Barbican Creative Hub’s programme of events and activities in advance of its opening and helped Lincoln Arts Centre to invest more than ever before directly into artists and creative entry-level roles, enhancing the cultural opportunities of the region. 


In total, the Lincoln Arts Centre has invested £114,705 into both early-career and established artists through commissions or fees over the year, elevating its position as a thriving destination for creative practitioners to develop and perform new works.  


Thirty seven creative artists were supported from local backgrounds and from further afield, improving connectivity while consistently celebrating home-grown talent. Four out of six companies who received micro-commissions from the Arts Centre include University of Lincoln alumni, demonstrating the path being forged for students into paid arts-based careers. 


The funding has also introduced four new jobs: an Associate Producer role, Book Festival Director and two entry-level ‘Routes In’ roles designed to welcome those who may otherwise not have viewed creative industries as accessible to them. 


The two Routes In positions centre around ‘on the job’ training for those lacking specific experience to address barriers that may have otherwise prevented people from considering creative jobs. A carefully measured approach to advertising the role won the most diverse applicant pool the Arts Centre has ever attracted.  


Mohammad Abuzar, Digital Marketing Assistant at Lincoln Arts Centre spoke about his time in the role so far: “Lincoln Arts Centre has truly transformed my office experience, making every minute enjoyable and unforgettable. I’ve never encountered such a unique blend of professionalism and fun.” 


Two new entry-level Routes In roles within the Lincoln Arts Centre and Barbican Creative Hub will be announced soon. 


This ethos of enhanced accessibility to arts has similarly been reflected in the year’s programme of events designed to bring new audiences into creative venues. Productions at Lincoln Arts Centre welcomed 3,661 first-time bookers, while the Barbican Creative Hub organised four major conferences, each with over 100 attendants and a total of 40 national and regional speakers. 


At each conference event, industry experts and emerging talent alike were able to exchange ideas and help shape the future of the creative and cultural industries for Greater Lincolnshire.  

The conferences included Shining a Light on Social Prescribing which interspersed discussions between local and national practitioners with creative performances, while supporting the research of Dr. Robert Dean, Deputy Head of the University’s School of Creative Arts. The event involved the launch of a music single in support of the Bearded Fisherman, a local charity addressing men’s mental health and suicide prevention.

Other themes included an exploration of sustainability through internationally renowned speakers at the Future Perspectives conference and a forum into equality, diversity and employability in the sector at Technically Speaking.

In its second year of NPO funding, the Barbican Creative Hub will host five further conferences adding creative technology, or ‘crea-tech’, and good governance to its roster of themes. This year also includes the much-anticipated launch of the Barbican Creative Hub’s Creatives in Residence programme adjacent to the opening of this new creative asset. 


Sally Denton, Executive Director of the Barbican Creative Hub, said: “With the Barbican Creative Hub opening its doors in January 2025, the ability to deliver in tandem such a high level of support for the creative and cultural industries will be game-changing, thanks to the Arts Council funding.


“In year two we will continue to build upon our successful conference programme, increase sector development through access to training across sustainability and inclusive practices, host regular creative meetups, and share insights and real-time data analysis. Meanwhile, the Creatives in Residence programme will further boost opportunities and support for emerging talent.” 


The Arts Centre’s latest Hope and Joy Season this Autumn will showcase 13 new artistic works, in addition to providing six opportunities for practitioners to sample brand new work to audiences for the first time at the Centre’s dedicated Demo night. 


Ben Anderson, Creative and Executive Director of Lincoln Arts Centre, said: “As we move forward into our second year of NPO funding, we will turbocharge our plans for the cultural ecology.


“The year ahead will see the extraordinary achievement of a new contemporary mid-scale dance work made in Lincoln; new entry level roles; new commissions for local artists resulting in shows for families; new wellbeing projects in sheds and a mobile youth centre across Lincoln; new seasons packed full of brand-new contemporary performance and exhibitions; sector training; workshops and more.”