Creative Darlington was formed following an consultation process involving around 1,500 people and reports to Darlington Partnership, whose vision is One Darlington: Perfectly Placed. The purpose of the consultation was to find out what art activities the public are involved in currently, what they enjoy, how they think Darlington’s arts should look in the future, and what would help and encourage them to engage in more art activity. Take pART Key findings gathers the responses.
An Arts Enquiry Group, an independent group of arts, business, third sector and Council representatives set up to explore and make recommendations on the future of the arts in Darlington developed the Creative Darlington Report which was presented in 2011. The report was presented to Darlington Partnership (the local strategic partnership) and Darlington Borough Council, who supported the development of Creative Darlington.
Creative Darlington’s Business Plan 2013 – 2016, set a vision, ambitions and desired outcomes for the arts across the Borough. The business plan was focused on a period of transition for the arts and on developing the sustainability of Darlington’s arts offer and its contribution to the locality. We supported the development of the Bridge Centre for Visual Arts, managed the Borough Art Collection and programming of the new gallery space at Crown Street Library and the creation of a new exhibition space at the Town Hall.
Priorities were developing the sustainable operation of strategically important arts organizations and enterprises in the borough, developing finance for arts activity from various sources in Darlington and developing audiences for great art.
We supported time limited organizational development work rather than offering regular revenue support, working with various organizations and enterprises, including Theatre Hullabaloo (options appraisal and development of a successful capital application securing £1.5 million from Arts Council England to construct The Hullabaloo), OddManOut (branding, organizational development), Darlington for Culture (development of membership scheme, website), Humantics CIC (looking at structure, development of fundraising) and Darlington Hippodrome.
We managed a Developing Finance for Arts Activity in Darlington small grants scheme, with awards offered to various individuals, organizations and enterprises, which secured approximately £3 from non-council sources for arts activity in Darlington from every £1 allocated from the Council strategic arts budget. We also programmed or supported short fundraising courses and surgeries in developing finance from sponsors, trusts and foundations.
We were one of the supporters of research and development for the whatsonindarlington.co.uk website and of the launch and promotion of the website, which secures significant visitor numbers and where suitable events can be promoted at not cost by artists, producers, arts organizations and creative enterprises. We supported Festival of Thrift 2013 (27,000 visits), Festival of Thrift 2014 (40,000 visits) and Festival of Thrift 2015 (45,000 visits), The Hallé Orchestra activity in Darlington schools and concerts at The Dolphin Centre led