Arts and culture

Arts News, September 2020

September is normally a busy time when activities and events restart, but this year is rather different. Some organisations are determined to keep the performing and visual arts alive so let’s support them.

For those in our creative industries and arts freelancers, we have some news on funding opportunities to help with hardship and future projects: these are very short-lived application times, so don’t miss the boat.

Funding news for freelance professional arts practitioners and community projects from the Arts Council includes:

  • Help Musicians' Financial Hardship Fund – info re £500 grants for professional musicians is currently in phase 2, with phase 3 from November.
  • National Lottery Project Grants for independent arts, museums and libraries organisations, creative practitioners and freelancers – new guidance had made the fund more responsive to the needs of smaller independent organisations and individual practitioners during Covid-19.
  • Arts Council England hope to reopen funding for ‘Developing your Creative Practice’ in the Autumn, so sign up for the ACE newsletter to receive updates.

Funding for small businesses in the tourism/hospitality sector has been announced, with information from our regional Local Enterprise Partnership about eligibility and applications 31 August to 21 September.

Visual Arts are alive and well in South Northamptonshire

Creative people have not been idle during the last few months.

Forge Coffee, Culworth has Suzanne Ashley's animal and pet portraits adorning the walls throughout September, while William Sculthorpe's oil and acrylic paintings continue to be on display at Evenley (pictured) until 2 October and are well worth a visit. Artwork is for sale.

South Northamptonshire Art Trail, 3 to 11 October – Our district’s annual Art Trail is prepared, with a good range of artists ready to show visitors the artwork they have been busy creating in their studios and homes. All are members of South Northamptonshire Arts.

The Heseltine Gallery

  • Since the Art in Isolation virtual exhibition was launched on the gallery website, more artists have contributed artwork and their stories, so do have a look.
  • Open Exhibition 2020, 5 to 13 December: call out for South Northamptonshire and North Oxfordshire artists. Artists based in the region are invited to submit up to three artworks in any medium for this year’s Open Exhibition at The Heseltine Gallery. Details for artists and visitors from The Heseltine Gallery or from

More places to enjoy good quality art

and countywide, online, plus some actual Open Studios in September.

Art and craft workshops have restarted at many places around the district, generally with restricted numbers – check websites or phone to book or find out about safety protocol.

Art and photography groups are mostly still meeting on-line to encourage each other, such as:

Libraries have reopened in Brackley and Towcester, with limited days, times and services (no browsing), so check before visiting via library service updates or phone 0300 126 1000 (Options 6 and 1). Craft clubs and Knit and Natter groups are currently presented online.

Performing Arts News

Some brave attempts have been made to run outdoor arts events at Evenley Wood, Culworth, Brackley and Stowe. I hope we will soon be able to publicise more activities, as organisers work out how to keep audiences and participants safe either outdoors or indoors. Guidance on managing activities can be found on the Government website and detailed advice for village halls from Northants ACRE which would help with organising cinema screenings and other social activities too.

Keep an eye on NMPAT’s website for news of the county music groups and Saturday Centres for young people. During lockdown, NMPAT staff have been keeping spirits up by posting musical fun on social media with #NMPositiviT. Theatres are taking reservations for live shows; booking in advance will help them enormously.

Folk musicians have been missing the festival and club atmosphere of live audiences, but have made the most of the internet. Brackley Folk Club are sharing music on their Facebook page and Northampton’s Great Knight Folk Club will be presenting virtual live gigs on their page from 2 September. You can subscribe to Folk Weekend Oxford for regular excellent music ‘live to your living room.’ If you are missing Jazz @ The Walnut in Blisworth, Tad Newton would be pleased to hear whether you’d be interested in live gigs restarting: contact him on

Warts and All Theatre – with radical acting programmes for all ages, and supporting developing theatre producers, Warts and All Theatre aim to give everyone a voice and allow everyone to speak their truth. All activities in Northampton takes place at Delapre Abbey in Far Cotton.

The September Arts News Update is available to download.

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