Mapping Gateshead: Past, Present and Future
Exploring the fabric of cultural activity in the borough to support sector-led agenda-setting, learning, and the diffusion of best practice.
Gateshead has a long history of advocacy and investment in the cultural and creative industries. With a dynamic funding landscape, the challenge is how to support sustainable sector growth and develop new partnerships with access to significantly less resources.
A new collaboration between project partners Northumbria & Newcastle University, GT3 Architects and Gateshead Council, ‘Mapping Gateshead’ utilised participatory techniques to provide a comprehensive overview of creative/cultural activity in the borough – an essential first step exploring the underlying infrastructure available to artists and creative practitioners and for future relationship-building, but which requires significant and sustained co-investment and energy.
Three virtual workshops held in early 2021 bought together creative/cultural freelancers in the borough and institutional representation from Newcastle and Northumbria Universities, Gateshead Council, the National Trust, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, Big Local Gateshead, Bensham Grove, Sage, Baltic and the Newbridge Project. In addition, the project highlighted the work of peer recommended Keynote Speakers, and local artists, Cecilia Stenbom and Ben Jones, Artistic Director of Dingy Butterflies.
Findings from these conversations uncovered the range of identities and experiences of creative practitioners living and working in Gateshead. As well as give space and time for practitioners to reflect on their own practice, the workshops also facilitated the development of shared understandings of policy and related decision-making processes as they relate to place development for cultural and creative initiatives in the region.
Project work culminated in three detailed maps of both extant, extinct, and potential future creative/cultural activities in Gateshead designed by local artist Grace Brennan. As well as act as a discussion point for future collaborative projects, the maps identified distinctive aspects of the sector’s geography, shifts, locational choices, economic performance, barriers to growth, and potential long-term industry partnerships that chart change and hope to inform future policy making.
Content co-created through Mapping Gateshead and final design by Grace Brennan.