Keele named as a partner in multi-million pound arts programme expansion

Keele University will play a crucial role in helping local people engage with the arts, thanks to a £1.75million expansion of a local scheme.

Since 2013, the Appetite project has seen more than 460,000 people in Stoke-on-Trent engaging with the arts through various events in the city’s parks, town centres, markets, hospitals and more.

The programme’s £1.75 million grant from Arts Council England, will expand into Newcastle-under-Lyme with a consortium led by the New Vic Theatre leading the push.

Keele University is one of a number of partner organisations in the consortium, which will begin expanding the Appetite project into the borough over a four-year period starting this October.

The group will work with new strategic partners Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Staffordshire County Council and Aspire Housing to engage local community groups and co-produce a vibrant menu of arts events and activities for all people across the borough, in addition to a continuing programme in Stoke-on-Trent.

Kerry Jones, Arts and Public Engagement lead at Keele University, said: “Keele is excited to play a key part in the development of Appetite and its Creative People and Places programme of activity for Newcastle-under-Lyme and Kidsgrove. We are looking forward to actively participating as a consortium member in this new phase of the project.

“Creativity and culture play a huge role in our economic and social futures, and the recently launched Keele Deal | Culture recognises this and sets out ambitions to realise the full potential of the University’s cultural resources and assets for the benefit of the local area.

“With this in mind, the University is committed to playing a major role in local cultural life and delivering a vibrant and impactful programme of events, using knowledge, assets and skills to support the growth and development of other cultural institutions in the area.”

Gemma Thomas, Director of the Appetite project, added: “We’re proud to have been able to secure this additional strategic funding from Arts Council England. Our six years working with people in Stoke-on-Trent has proven that local people have an appetite for art that is relevant to them and their families.

“We love working with our partners and local people to come up with events and projects and look forward to doing so with people in Newcastle-under-Lyme. The investment from Arts Council England shows a willingness of funders to invest in places like North Staffordshire.

“In Stoke-on-Trent we’ve supported artists and community groups to apply for additional funding through Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants and would encourage others to apply for projects across our area. We’re looking forward to expanding our work for the next four years with our Newcastle partners whilst continuing our work in Stoke-on-Trent.”