ASTONish is part of the A&N Funding. Programme. On 14 September 2016, Arts groups and community organisations wishing to engage with residents in Aston and Newtown were asked to apply for grants from a £500,000 Cultural Development Service funding pot.
The grants were split into two streams: the first, to develop participation and engagement in the arts through activities for young people and for older people, co-designed with the community. Newly formed groups could apply for ‘germinator’ grants of £2,000 to £4,000 while established organisations bid for funding between £20,000 and £100,000.
The second stream, to develop opportunities for black and minority ethnic creative entrepreneurs and producers, included an award of £125,000 to Birmingham Hippodrome’s comprehensive training programme (ASTONish), which will support emerging cultural leaders in developing their skills and networks, and a further £25,000 award to Black Arts Forum’s CREATE scheme to help artists, community groups and trustees to develop their skills and networks. It is intended these programmes will strengthen the local cultural infrastructure for the future.
The Drum closed on 30 June 2016, following the liquidation of Newtown Cultural Projects Ltd, and Birmingham City Council is in the process of seeking a new tenant for the premises in Aston. Following the closure of The Drum, Birmingham City Council worked with Arts Council England and local stakeholders, to identify priorities for cultural development in both areas and agreed match funding.