Rising stars are revealed as new North East arts funding scheme is launched

Lisette Auton; Claire A Baker; Andy Berriman Amelia Coburn; Scott Turnbull <i>(Image: TVCA)</i>
Lisette Auton; Claire A Baker; Andy Berriman Amelia Coburn; Scott Turnbull (Image: TVCA)

A group of talented artists have been revealed who will receive support and funding from a major new arts initiative in the Tees Valley.

Tees Valley Artists of the Year 2024 is a new scheme run by Tees Valley Combined Authority supporting five leading local artists, who will receive a career-changing £30,000 investment.

The project is a new approach to developing the next generation of musicians, filmmakers and writers and could provide a groundbreaking model for other areas.

The successful artists are Middlesbrough singer-songwriter Amelia Coburn; Darlington author Lisette Auton; Stockton-based visual artist Claire A Baker; theatre-maker Scott Turnbull and Stockton film-maker Andy Berriman.

Each will receive a £30,000 package of support over a year, which includes a real-living wage bursary and a professional development budget. All five will also receive industry mentoring and tailored business support to take their creative career to the next level.

Tees Valley Artists of the Year supports an ambition to develop the region as an engine room for creative artists and the successful artists were selected after a competitive process involving panellists from the region’s leading cultural organisations, Arts Council England, and TVCA.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “We’ve got a great wealth of talent in our region, and we can all do more to shout it from the rooftops.

“We’re putting the building blocks in place by working alongside the BBC, North East Screen and The Northern Studios, in Hartlepool – plus our investment in our Development Corporations in Hartlepool and Middlesbrough.

“We want to help our brightest talents thrive and build their careers here – and this award is one part of that plan.”

The five artists showed outstanding strength and quality in their field with the selection panel judging whether they were each at the right point in their careers where the programme could make a tangible and sustainable difference.

Charlie Kemp, Head of Creative Place at the Tees Valley Combined Authority, said: “We were utterly blown away by the quality, mass and diversity of the applications we received – and it goes to show the incredible depth of creative talent we have in the Tees Valley.

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“It’s great to be working alongside the North team at Arts Council England and leaders in the arts in bringing this project to life. The Combined Authority, Tees Valley Business Board and the wider Tees Valley culture sector have a shared ambition to establish our region as one of the country’s engine rooms for creative production, and we’re striving to make it a fantastic and well-supported place to work.

“We hope this funding can provide these great artists with the help and expertise they need to thrive, secure their futures, and take their careers to the next level.”

Funding provided through the Artist of the Year comes via the UK Government and its UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).

Alison Gwynn, Creative Economy Lead for the Tees Valley Business Board and North East Screen Chief Executive, said: "A supported arts and culture scene is essential for nurturing local talent and creating vibrant careers. By investing in our creative industries, we ensure our region becomes a destination for talent, rivalling Manchester and London."

The award is part of a wider £20.5m programme of investment by the Combined Authority to grow the region’s creative and cultural industries and visitor economies.

Jane Tarr, Director North, Arts Council England “We want the North to be a place where everyone can establish and sustain a creative career so it’s great to see the Tees Valley Combined Authority supporting artists at a key moment in their careers and helping with their business and professional development.

“We were pleased to be involved in the panels for the five Artists of the Year and looking forward to seeing how the opportunity takes their creative journeys forward.”