On Friday 23rd November, Newcastle University held a charity auction and music night as part of the collaborative GeNErosity Festival which celebrates 900 years of philanthropy in the North East.
Approximately 150 people attended the night which was titled “Avison to Tickell: Musicians as Philanthropists for the North East”. The event was organised jointly by the Newcastle University Centre for Research on Entrepreneurship, Wealth and Philanthropy, and the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland and raised funds for the Young Musicians Fund.
The evening started with a reception in the Courtyard Café, Old Library Building, where attendees could mingle and enjoy a hot buffet while viewing the auction lots for the night. The theme of the auction was the North East’s musical heritage, and thus featured a variety of handwritten lyrics.
The reception was followed by the main event of the night, which featured speeches, auctions and musical interludes. This was held in the magnificent surroundings of Kings Hall in the Armstrong Building.
Vice-Chancellor Chris Day opened the night with a warm welcome in which he explained the effect that philanthropy has had not just on the North East in general but also on Newcastle University, which owes many of its most famous buildings to generous philanthropists.
Through funds from donors the Foundation has been able to make hundreds of grants to local people and organisations. He explained the context of the auction night, which is part of the GeNErosity festival organised by the Newcastle University Centre for Research on Entrepreneurship, Wealth and Philanthropy. This is believed to be the world’s first philanthropy festival, running from 7th to 27th November and featuring 50 events. The Festival’s aims are to celebrate philanthropic achievements in the North East, question the role of philanthropy during a time of austerity and encourage diverse forms of philanthropy to demonstrate the joy of giving.
After that, compere for the night, Northumbrian folk musician Kathryn Tickell introduced herself. In 1996 she set up the Young Musicians Fund, an endowment to help finance young people’s interest in music as well as keep the region’s culture and music alive. This Fund was set up in cooperation with the Community Foundation and has raised over £100,000 for young people in the North East. Kathryn described the necessity of such a fund, saying that, “Music can do such a lot” in terms of developing self-confidence and –esteem, promoting learning and improving concentration.
The auction, which featured ten lots, was carried out by Bertie Foster. The high-ticket item was a sheet of framed lyrics from the Dire Strait’s Song Brothers in Arms, handwritten by Mark Knopfler. Following an intensive bidding war, the piece was ultimately sold for £520
The night was interspersed with musical interludes. Lucian Guest, a student from Eaglescliffe Sixth Form College, was the first benefactor of the Young Musicians Fund to perform on his trumpet. Children from West Denton Primary School impressed the audience with an energetic singing and clog dancing performance which showcased their skills learnt from lessons provided by the Young Musicians Fund. The folk music group Superfolkus also performed, which is tutored by Kathryn through the Fund.
Martin Longstaff of the Lake Poets performed some of his songs rooted in the North East which discussed his heritage and the role of family. In 2012 he won the Alan Hull Award which was established in memory of the Newcastle-born founder member of Lindisfarne. The Award is granted by the Young Musicians Fund and gives £1000 each year to a composer or songwriter under 24. Martin praised the Award for not only financing his record and thus assisting his music career, but also helping his confidence. Martin donated a handwritten set of lyrics from his song By the Shipyard to the auction, which sold for £160; he hoped that through the funds raised during the evening, more children can have the same opportunities as him.
Mike Tickell, Kathryn’s father, performed up-beat and lively renditions of his own songs as well as classic Geordie folk songs such as Cushie Butterfield by George “Geordie” Ridley. Handwritten lyrics of his song Bobby Robson, a tribute to the Newcastle-born footballer, were auctioned off during the night for £180. These performances were well received by the audience who relished the opportunity to sing along.
The night was incredibly well received and was a highlight of the GeNErosity Festival. Through the ticket sales, donations and auction earnings, the evening managed to raise £8760 for the Young Musicians Fund just by the interval. The hard work of the Newcastle University, the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland and Kathryn Tickell of the Young Musicians Fund was praised and celebrated in the enjoyable evening.