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Arts & Culture

TWAM appoints new chair and trustees to ensure culture remains the heart of the North East

A North East charitable trust is welcoming a new chair and three new trustees to its board as it plans to reopen its venues having secured funding in the second round of the Arts Council Recovery Fund.

Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM) has appointed Phil Kite as chair and Crystal Hicks, Grant Murray and John Holmes as trustees.

They will be joining Keith Merrin who is taking as director of TWAM this month.

TWAM operates nine venues across the North East including the Great North Museum, the Laing Art Gallery, Shipley Art Gallery, Arbeia Roman Fort and Stephenson Steam Railway.

The organisation has been awarded £190,910 from the Arts Council Recovery Fund, which will enable it to care for its extensive collections and deliver community and learning programmes.

The new trustees have been brought in to attract fundraising support and help with a range of events on the horizon such as the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to the Laing Art Gallery and the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall in 2022.

Phil Kite who joins as chair of the TWAM development trust is a chartered accountant with over 30 years’ experience leading engineering businesses.

In 2019, he led a team that competed in the 3000 mile Talisker Whisky Altantic Challenge, known as the world’s toughest row, and achieved a world record for a mixed four.

He is currently part of an international team aiming to be the first to row the 2300 Northwest Passage – the arctic route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Phil said: “TWAM is more than just responsible for storing and recording our cultural heritage. It is its role in sharing that information that makes it so important.

“As a society we need to learn from the past, understand how we became who we are, which in turn can only help us have a better tomorrow.

“It is important that everyone has the opportunity to share that experience, to engage with our past through viewing artefacts and learning how different cultures have shaped who we are today.”

Crystal Hicks is a housing sector and equalities leader.

She has held exec and non-exec director roles in housing and homelessness for the past six years and is currently assistant director for Your Homes Newcastle, vice chair of the Chartered Institute of Housing NE, chair of WISH North East and non-exec director for Society Matters CiC.

Crystal said: “Now more than ever the sector is in need of willing volunteers to ensure its future sustainability for generations to come and I really want to play my part in this.”

Grant Murray was born and raised in Newcastle but has worked all over the UK and lived in London, Sydney and Abu Dhabi.

His career as a financial markets economist and broker has seen him work for many of the world’s largest financial institutions.

Grant said: “Art, culture and heritage are the key pillars of what it is to be from the North East and the UK as a whole. Internationally we are famous for our historical preservation of our artefacts.

“This retention of key assets from the past, also inspires the creativity of the future and a virtuous circle for the Arts. That is to be celebrated.”

John Holmes, the final new TWAM trustee, has held various non-executive roles within arts, cultural, education, housing, property development, tourism, leisure and community interest companies.

John said: “I’m committed to celebrating the rich heritage and legacy of the region, looking forward with optimism to the part that North East people and resources can play in the country’s future economic recovery and growth.

“The outreach which TWAM provides to schools, colleges and communities is invaluable to encourage, stimulate and engage people of all ages and abilities.”