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Northern Architecture charity closes as funding dries up

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Newcastle-based charity Northern Architecture is set to close, blaming the ‘current climate’ for funding in the arts and culture sectors

The regional charity, which had been a member of the now disbanded Architecture Centre Network, worked to ‘champion quality architecture’ in the North East and help improve neighbourhoods. 

The AJ understands the 21-year-old organisation ceased operations in May, but will formally close in the autumn. 

Nicky Watson, chair of the charity’s board of trustees, blamed changes in public sector funding for Northern Architecture’s demise.

‘Loss of support from the Arts Council was a significant financial blow, compounded by ever greater demands on charitable trusts and an ever increasing competitive funding environment,’ she said.

’The decision to cease trading was not taken lightly, and only after a very considerable joint effort between staff and the board over many months to secure a sustainable future for the charity and exploring all the options available.’

    The architectural and design community in our region will be weaker without their support

She added: ‘I feel sad the funding environment that supported Northern Architecture’s work, and that of so many other similar organisations, for so many years is now so changed. However, I also feel incredibly proud of the 21 years of hard work by talented staff and volunteers, alongside committed board members, that has supported built environment professionals to deliver good design, and had significant positive impact on local communities right across the North East.’

In the last five years, Northern Architecture claims its programmes have reached more than 33,000 people. The charity has been backed by a number of organisations including architects FaulknerBrowns and Jane Darbyshire and David Kendall Architects.

FaulknerBrowns partner Paul Rigby said: ‘We are very disappointed to see the recent closure of Northern Architecture. As a group they have made a credible difference promoting an agenda that has supported architectural ambition across the region.

He added: ’Their work over many years stretched from workshop programmes in schools and local communities, to exhibitions and events promoting the importance and value of the built environment in everyday life. Their ambition and character will be missed, and the architectural and design community in our region will be weaker without their support.’

Meanwhile, the charity’s three staff members have set up a community interest company in Newcastle, called 22 Sheds, to carry on much of Northern Architecture’s work.

Northern Architecture was founded in 1995 and was backed by a number of organisations, including the Newcastle Architecture Workshop and the northern branch of RIBA.

The trustees of Northern Architecture have set up a website to celebrate its work.

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