SIRF is 30 years old this year and the perfect birthday present has just landed in the shape of £1.2million in funding from the Arts Council.
The funding, which will see Arts Council England continue to recognise SIRF as a National Portfolio Organisation, is spread over the next four years.
It is a major boost for the much-loved event, which was once described as ‘the world’s best festival of outdoor art’ by then Arts Council Chief Executive Alan Davey.
And it’s one that has been welcomed by SIRF’s organiser, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.
Councillor Norma Wilburn, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, said: “We’re thrilled by this news, which extends our long-term partnership with the Arts Council. It means that together, we can look forward to building on SIRF’s strong international reputation for delivering great art for people to enjoy.
“Today’s announcement is also great news for the Borough’s economy because SIRF brings in around £1million in visitor spend every year, which will be music to the ears of local businesses and all of those business owners and managers who work so hard all year round to help us make this a great place for events.
“Finally, this is a great example of how the Council’s investment in events is attracting additional funding from outside bodies like the Arts Council. Let’s not forget, this money that would go elsewhere if we weren’t investing in events ourselves.”
SIRF is part of the Without Walls consortium and Associate Touring Network, managed by XTRAX. The consortium has received a total of £4.8million Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation funding over the next four years.
Josephine Burns, Chair of Without Walls, said: "Without Walls is managed by XTRAX. We are delighted to be awarded National Portfolio Organisation funding. It recognises the artistic achievements of the past 10 years and how outdoor arts has flourished, bringing delight and challenge to audiences across the UK and beyond. Now we can plan with artists, companies and partners - existing and new - to deepen our impact and make ambitious new work.
"The decision to fund a consortium where the leadership is distributed across a wide range of partners allows us to go on a bold adventure together, to create work of the highest calibre with exceptional established artists and those new to presenting outdoor arts."
SIRF 17 takes place from Thursday 3 August to Sunday 6 August and will offer up to 30 individual shows a day from 1.15pm until 11pm. For more information visit www.sirf.co.uk