It’s almost time for the Culture Awards 2021 show


Culture is making a comeback and this is great news for a region known for putting on a show or creating a show. Now seems like a good time to shout about it.

You only have up to Wednesday July 28 to nominate your personal cultural champions for the Culture Awards 2021, a title sponsored by Durham County Council, so think fast, act fast!

There are many who deserve a pat on the back, not to mention the resounding applause in Durham Cathedral where this year’s awards will be presented on September 2.

It is likely that 2020 will be remembered as the year that coronavirus lockdowns ensured that not much has happened.

And who would have imagined in March of last year, when the Prime Minister ordered people to stay at home, that the restrictions would spill over in 2021?

But this year’s Culture Awards, covering 2020 and the first half of this year, embrace the Northeast’s cultural scene under lockdown when creativity and ingenuity have been put to the test.

And thanks to many brilliant people, things HAS happened – even though they happened in a different form. It is important that this be remembered and recognized. Here’s a reminder …


The Durham Book Festival typically draws thousands of people to the city.

The county lost that economic boost in 2020 and fans had to settle for an online version of the festival in October, although many enjoyed the experience.

Recorded interviews with writers such as Richard Osman, Ian Rankin and Sarah Moss proved popular and 4,000 copies of Written in the Blood, a new Vera story by Ann Cleeves, were distributed as part of the ‘Big Read ”.

The Hexham Book Festival had to be canceled last year, but has recently bounced back in style with an online version in a fabulous spiegeltent in Abbey Park.

The 16th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, which is largely screen-based anyway, has made a smooth fall transition from physical to online – although normal service resumes this year.

Rebranding Thriftfest Upcycled, Redcar’s annual thrift festival has reached a global audience with a thrifty but healthy online program of lectures, workshops and activities on September 12.


Musicians across the region were hit as venues were forced to close and live music fans had to settle for home entertainment.

Orchestral musicians had to adapt to a socially distant game, even if the opportunities were scarce.

The choirs struggled to make group singing a potentially potent virus spreader. The rehearsals and performances on Zoom proved frustrating for some but saved lives for many.

The annual Northern Chords chamber music festival was reduced to a day of performances at a church in Newcastle and tickets, fewer than normal due to restrictions, sold out in the blink of an eye.

The musicians of Royal Northern Sinfonia (RNS) were caught on camera performing special pieces of music from their homes, which was great for their neighbors and online subscribers.

A fall concert series called Sage Live 2020 has been announced with tickets either to attend the concert, with a reduced capacity of 1,700 to 300 seats, or to receive the live broadcast.

After a change in government guidelines, concerts by RNS, Lanterns on the Lake, The Futureheads and trumpeter Yazz Ahmed were broadcast live only.

For Abigail Pogson, director of Sage Gateshead, it has been a difficult time, although in a March blog post she said a lot has happened, “driven by the determination to survive, provide and prepare for the future “.

A series of big outdoor concerts took place last summer thanks to the ingenuity of SDD Concerts, which organized “pens” of socially distant spectators at the Virgin Money Unity Arena in Gosforth Park.

Sam Fender, Maximo Park and Lauren Pattison were among those who entertained themselves with other great artists from across the country.


The big theaters had to close but the theatrical performances have not disappeared.

Several companies, including Live Theater and Northern Stage in Newcastle, both of which appointed new artistic directors during the pandemic, have commissioned work for audiences online.

Northern Stage, in collaboration with 10 North East theater makers, recently announced a series of free summer performances in the region under the title Out on the Toon.

Gala Durham has partnered with Durham University to stage On Stage: Online, a virtual theater festival featuring shows created by local theater companies and performing arts groups. Other highlights include Rottenchops’ Revenge, a party movie series bringing the much-loved pantomime magic of Gala Durham into homes, and The Christmas Tree, an exciting audio adventure for kids.

November Club in Northumberland has produced an audio Christmas story series and recently did their first online play, Repeat Signal, which takes place in Woodhorn.

Alphabetti, which supports many North East theater actors from its base in Newcastle, commissioned 10 aspiring writers to produce a short audio piece as part of a project called Listen Up.

Dance companies in the region have embraced online presentation possibilities.

Michael Heatley’s Hit the Ground Running Dance Theater Company made a film of his powerful dance production, Macho, which received rave reviews.

Last summer, meanwhile, as people across the country cheered for the NHS, Eliot Smith Dance premiered a documentary film called Seacole + Nightingale, Two Famous Victorian Era Nurses, starring the dancers Bisola Bello and Victoria Winter.

Macho by Hit the Ground Running Dance Theater Company by Michael Heatley
Macho by Hit the Ground Running Dance Theater Company by Michael Heatley

Amanda Hopgood, Chief of Durham County Council, said: “Over the past 18 months it has been truly inspiring to see the innovative ways that cultural venues, attractions, artists and performers in the region have made. an extra effort to cheer us up.

Despite the great challenges of the pandemic, they continued to make a positive difference in the lives of our residents and the Culture Awards are an opportunity for all of us to say a big thank you.

“In County Durham, we are proud of our rich cultural heritage and are absolutely committed to supporting its growth, whether by investing in our cultural program, promoting the region’s wider offering or sponsoring the Culture Awards. .

Next week we will officially launch our bid for County Durham to be the 2025 UK City of Culture and I cannot overstate the social and economic benefits this will bring to the North East if we are successful. Now is the time to really shout out about the region’s world-class cultural offerings, so don’t hesitate to get involved and name those who you think deserve that extra recognition.

Here are the details of the Culture Awards 2021:

The winners of the Culture Awards 2021 will be unveiled at a presentation ceremony at Durham Cathedral on September 2. There will be entertainment (to be confirmed). If you wish to attend, tickets cost £ 25 and can be booked at

The host

Once again, the ceremony will be hosted by Northeastern actor Chris Connel who has appeared in numerous stage and screen productions.

The candidacies

You can nominate in 10 categories from now until Wednesday July 28 . Circumstances dictate a shorter nomination period this year, so act quickly. Please submit your application at

The awards are open to anyone who has made a significant contribution to the cultural landscape of the North East in 2020-2021. Anyone can nominate a person, organization or event.

The categories

Recognition of an artist from the North East whose work in 2020-21 left a lasting impression. It will be awarded for an individual work or an exhibition.

For an individual, group or company who, in 2020-21, put on a performance in the North East (live or virtual) that moved or inspired. Examples might include dance, music, drama, or comedy.

Recognize an individual artist or group who stood out in 2020-2021. Nominations are welcome for all performers: dancers, musicians, singers, performance poets, actors etc. Can be for one or more performances, live or virtual.

Recognition for any Northeast-based writer, artist, performer or visual artist who first gained public attention in 2020-2021.

Recognition of an author, playwright, screenwriter or poet who has published or performed exceptional works (live or virtual) in 2020-2021.

Recognizing an exceptional partnership that has demonstrated an innovative way of working in 2020-2021 to achieve the respective goals.

Nominations invited for a cultural event or work that inspired or had an impact in 2020-21.

Awarded for a virtual event or live gathering authorized in 2020-21 in the Northeast.

To recognize a special achievement in the arts by an individual or group aged 18 or under in 2020-2021.

Recognize the special efforts made by an individual, group or organization to support arts and culture throughout the pandemic.

  • At night a supplement Special price for a exceptional contribution arts and culture of the region will be presented. It will be in the judges’ gift and nominations are not sought.
For more information

Please visit or contact event manager Lesley Hampson at [email protected]

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