The North East Contemporary Visual Arts Network embraces both individual artists, curators and over 60 organisations tasked with delivering contemporary visual arts provision across the North East region.

Working as a sector and a network, our vision is built on collaboration, partnership, networking and brokering.

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Untitled: A Strategic Plan for Visual Arts in North East England

On 14 October 2016, the members of NE CVAN came together to launch a 10-year strategic vision for contemporary visual arts in the region.

The full strategy document, Untitled: A Strategic Plan for Visual Arts in North East England can be read here.

Stretching north from Teesside up to the border of Scotland, and out to England’s northernmost town Berwick, the North East is known for its vibrant, distinctive and growing visual arts offering. The strategy aims to build upon this by identifying areas of untapped potential, in order to raise the profile of the region’s international reputation as a vibrant centre of excellence for the visual arts.

The strategy has been created through consultation with members of the NE CVAN, a network of over sixty organisations and dedicated individuals who are delivering contemporary visual art across the North East. It lays out a series of ambitious priorities including securing investment to create major sculpture production facilities by 2025, following on from a long industrial tradition in the area, and the development of a new International Visual Arts Festival by 2019, building on a tradition of leading contemporary festivals including the Tyne International, which was the UK’s first visual arts biennial, International Print Biennale and AV Festival.

The launch of the strategy coincides with the 20-year anniversary of the UK Year of the Visual Arts in the North East, which saw more than three thousand exhibitions, events, commissions and residencies take place across the region. Led by a consortium of public and private organisations, the programme marked a major shift in the perception of the visual arts amongst local people. It also showcased the scale and quality of visual arts within the region to a national and international audience.

Since then there has been considerable capital investment creating the National Glass Centre in Sunderland (1998), BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead (2002) and Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art (2007). There has also been a consistent increase in
independent arts organisations, new forms of artists’ support and artists’ facilities across the region. Nonetheless, as last year’s Case for Culture led by the North East Culture Partnership (NECP) acknowledged, there are still gaps in provision and places, which require further
investment. The NE CVAN strategy takes a lead for the visual arts within the wider Case for Culture ambitions, unifying the sector behind a series of collective priorities.

The strategy is structured around a key set of priorities that have been identified as critical to
the sector’s success:

  • Provision - To improve sustainability, organisational growth and resilience within the sector.
  • Progression - To increase the potential for individuals to secure employment and develop successful careers nationally and internationally.
  • Profile - To raise the international profile of the visual arts sector in the North East.
  • Participation - To increase current levels of engagement and reflect the diverse communities the sector serves.
  • Political - To propose art as a driver for social change.

The strategy’s activities over the next decade will include:


  • Investment will be secured to create major sculpture production facilities by 2025, building on the strong history of making embedded in the region’s culture and psyche.
  • A plan will be put in place to lobby for secure studio provision and live/work facilities for artists.
  • A critical friend initiative will be established connecting individuals and organisations within the network.
  • A Business Forum will be created by the network to help the sector engage with business and international trade opportunities

By improving sustainability, organisational growth and stability within the sector, the network will build a strong infrastructure that can support and nurture new and existing talent in the region.


  • A professional practice toolkit will be developed by a-n for final year students entering the sector.
  • A new cultural leadership programme will be devised by the network.
  • Residencies and fellowships for artists, curators and writers will be developed within the network membership.
  • Working in partnership with schools, Further and Higher Education and workplaces the network will support individuals at different stages of their careers to develop successful careers nationally and internationally within the visual arts sector and ultimately generate the next generation of artists and cultural leaders.


  • A new International Visual Arts Festival on Tyneside will be created by 2019.
  • New contemporary collections will be developed by the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland and the National Glass Centre through investment totalling £100K.
  • Internationally ambitious visual arts programming will be developed to support bids for the UK City of Culture in Sunderland (2021) and Teeside (2025)
  • An online Art Map will be developed by the sector to encourage locals and visitors to explore the diverse visual arts offering in the area.
  • Through strategic press profiling and collaborative networking with tourism boards, ambassador networks and cultural organisations, NE CVAN will further raise the profile of contemporary visual arts in the North East on a regional, national and international scale.


  • Major community engagement initiatives across the North East will be delivered from within the sector, for example Destination Apollo, an intergenerational programme, which will celebrate creativity and culture in the East Durham community.

Through innovative public programmes NE CVAN will increase the sector’s current levels of
audience engagement and engage new and hard-to-reach audiences to better reflect the diverse communities it serves. The visual arts sector will also collate, share and evaluate audience data in order to fully understand its audiences and inform its work.


  • Major longitudinal university-led research will be used to measure the sector’s impact regionally.
  • Sector representation will be ensured on the All Party Parliamentary Group for Art, Craft and Design in Education

Believing in the intrinsic value of arts and culture to individuals and society, NE CVAN will work to ensure art is integral within schools and the public realm. The NE CVAN will also set in place
frameworks to demonstrate and measure the public value of the sector socially, economically and politically, and ultimately place the visual arts at the forefront of public policy agenda.


The North East Contemporary Visual Arts Network includes individual artists, curators and writers and the following organisations:

a-n The Artists Information Company • Allenheads Contemporary Arts • amino • Ampersand Inventions • Arts&Heritage • AV Festival • BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art • BALTIC39 • Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival • Berwick Visual Arts • Bowes Museum • Breeze Creatives • B&D Studios • Cheeseburn Sculpture • Circa Projects • Cobalt Studios • The Customs House  • Destination Apollo • drawing? • Drop City • Durham County Council Culture and Sport • Durham University• East Durham Creates • Gallery North • Globe Gallery • Hartlepool Art Gallery • Hole Editions • The Holy Biscuit • The House of Blah Blah • International Print Biennale • ISIS Arts • Left Leg Gallery • Locus+ • M I L K •  Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art • Mushroom Works • National Glass Centre • Navigator North • The NewBridge Project • Newcastle University • New Linthorpe • North East Photography Network • Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art • Northern Print • Northumberland Arts Development • Northumbria University • Orbis • Platform Arts • Side Gallery • Star and Shadow • Teesside University • Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums • Arts Programme at Tyneside Cinema • University of Sunderland • Vane • Visual Art in Rural Communities • Workplace Gallery • Wunderbar • 36 Lime Street

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