Darlo to ‘Boro is our Grand Tour – A Questions & Answers session

CoJoin Lady Kitt on Thursday, 19th, September to hear all about their time as an artist in residence at the Crown Street Gallery in Darlington. Lady Kitt has been busy working away at the Crown Street Gallery for the last few weeks and is now heading to Middlesbrough to share the love!!

So what have they been up to in Darlington?

In short, A LOT!!!

– A manifesto of manners – how to treat public spaces and the people in them.

– A series of 3D wearable paper sculptures celebrating the town and its people.

– A “book” made specifically for the Darlo archives containing a fold out, interactive, 3D, ever changing/ endlessly changeable map.

– Drag based, interactive street theatre in a large origami boat.

This event is a chance for people to chat to Lady Kitt see some of the work they have created alongside the people of Darlington, make some work yourself (no pressure!) and also ask the very important question…..

Where is Fred*???

*The stuffed polar bear lent by Darlington council to an unnamed museum in Middlesbrough during the 1990s and never seen since …


Tea, Coffee & Snacks provided.

The Auxiliary
31 Station Street

1pm – 3pm , drop in

Free Admission
All ages


Nightfall 2019 Emerging Artist Bursary Commission

Photo Credit : Jason Hynes. Artwork Credit : Namita Vijayakumar, Nightfall 2016

Stellar Projects, in partnership with Navigator North, are offering Tees Valley / County Durham based emerging artists the opportunity to develop their practice to create new site specific light-based works, with tailored support and mentoring. The resulting site specific installations will be showcased as part of Nightfall 2019.

This opportunity is available for artists from Tees Valley and County Durham who have not previously been commissioned to produce light-based site specific works, but who are interested in developing this aspect of their creative practice. Proposals should respond to the theme of moon inspired folklore. Successful applicants will benefit from a bursary which will include professional development sessions, individual mentoring, workspace and technical support.

Bursary Commission Call Out Event

Wed 18th September 10.30am – 12.30. Preston Park Museum

Meet Navigator North and Stellar Projects to find out more about the bursary commission, be inspired, take a tour of the site and ask any questions to prepare for your application. If you would like to book a place, please email opportunities@navigatornorth.com

To apply visit www.nightfallfestival.co.uk/commission and download an application pack.

Completed application forms should be emailed to opportunities@navigatornorth.com 

Application Deadline 5pm 1 October 2019

Last Train Home 2019 – a colourful, diverse, energetic, fabulous festival of comedy and music in Darlo

As working daytime Saturday 7th September 2019 I missed some of the music, but caught my first live music of this festival at Hogan’s Bar just after 5pm, and was amply entertained by a fabulous and wonderfully diverse programme of music and comedy at various stages for the next five hours.

Given there were so many stages and over 50 artists, and as a music fan, I guess on law of averages I’d find something to my taste.  However its testament to Tracks and those involved in curating this festival programme that all the music and comedy I heard and saw made me happy I’d purchased my £15 ticket (great value in my opinion), made me think, listen, feel, smile and uplifted me beyond the everyday self in the that way that festivals can.

With The Forum music stage (curated by Tracks), The Hullabaloo (curated by Noisy Daughters), St John’s Church (curated by Tracks), Hullabaloo Café (curated by Legitimate Anarchy, Hogan’s Bar (curated by Narc Magazine  and the Forum (Room 1) curated by Hilarity Bites its no surprise the programme was so fabulous. 

Since I didn’t take a note of every band or artists name I saw, my ongoing journey throught the festival is pictured below (apologies for quality of photographs!!!!), in more or less chronological order. It was great to see friends (and devotees of the current music and comedy scenes) making their own journeys through Last Train Home Festival 2019.   It was delightful to be able to travel on foot and see and hear so many artists with original songs and jokes and to be able to see so much colour, and sense so much energy and positivity. 

A big THANK YOU to those volunteering their time to support Last Train Home 2019 re ticket sales and to all involved at the host venues for welcome, technical expertise and hospitality, and to Tracks for bringing this all together in Darlington with their customary energy, drive, intent, expertise and humour, and also for creating some fantastic and user friendly print to guide me through a full programme.

Darlo to ‘Boro is our Grand Tour Residency at Crown Street Gallery and Darlington Library & Archives

Image Credit Sarah Grundy Li and Edwin Li.

During Aug and Sept 2019, Lady Kitt is Artist in Residence at Crown Street Gallery and Darlington Library & Archive as part of Middlesbrough Art Weekender, Supported by Creative Darlington. Here is some further information from Lady Kitt about their approach and ways in which you can get involved

As a starting point I am using:

  1. The title / theme / provocation
    “Darlo to ‘Boro is our Grand Tour” – exploring the idea that cultural life in the North East can be just as [if not more!] exciting, rich and diverse as the 18th century “Grand Tour”. Also, considering the complexity of the inherited privileges of cultural and social spaces [museum collections, art, architecture, libraries] we have in the North East, many of which were paid for by profits from slavery, colonialism and pits /mills with very poor regard for human safety or dignity and who may be excluded from spaces considered to be public
  2. The floor in the Crown Street Gallery
  3. A massive pile of paper

I’m initially creating a 3d map (made from paper) of public spaces in Darlington. The map will be a collaboratively made, participatory installation including physical objects made of paper, items from the archives, written questions / observations about the social and cultural life of Darlington, the North East and connections (social, emotional and cultural) between Darlington and Middlesbrough.

I imagine the map will “grow” out of the floor of the gallery. The locations which appear on the map will all by suggested (either via social media or in person by popping into the gallery- please see below for times I’m around) by people who have a connection to Darlington. Locations can by physical or imagined. Physical representation of the locations will be made by me and anyone else who fancies joining in. I am particularly interested in hearing about queer space, accessible spaces and spaces which might exist in the future.
Everyone involved (in making / making suggestions) will be credited as co-authors of the work.

This could be a starting point which develops into something completely different or could form the basis of the final event/exhibition/celebration. I imagine the work will reference the history of the town/region (through exploration of the archives), the contemporary life of the town / region and our imagined futures. I guess it will also draw on my experiences of growing up near Darlington and my changing perceptions, now returning as an adult.

If you’d like to pop in for a chat / a cuppa/ a make/ a biscuit, I’m in the gallery:

Thurs 15th 10am – 1pm
Mon 19th  10am- 1pm
Weds 21st 11am- 2pm
Weds 28th 3-6pm
Mon 2nd 3-6pm
Weds 4th 10am-1pm
Mon 9th  10am- 1pm
Weds 11th  10am- 1pm

Directions to the gallery and access info HERE

If you would like to make any suggestions about possible locations please email me at lady_kitt@lladykitt.com with the heading “Darlo to ’Boro location”

On Sat 19th Sept there will also be a sharing event about the residency as part of Middlesbrough Art Weekender. Further information about the event can be found here.

New in Town

We are seeking proposals for arts activity or arts development which can be shared within Darlington Town Centre subject to our budget support and those submitting proposals securing additional budget which at least matches what we commit from sources other than Darlington Borough Council.  

We have allocated budget of £20,000 to support the creation and sharing of new creative work or arts development activity in Darlington Town Centre. We expect to support between two and four awards and are offering support of up to £10,000 to artists, curators, producers, arts organisations and enterprises to deliver selected proposals in Darlington Town Centre, subject to agreement. 


We are looking for proposals to be shared with the public for the first time in Darlington, original activity which has not toured elsewhere and which ideally responds at least in part to Darlington Town Centre. These might be to:

• develop an original event, performance, exhibition or participatory art project which is allied to an established Town Centre based event or festival

• animate the Town Centre through art in a new creative way

• explore and pilot the viability of new creative space, resource or way of engaging the public

All proposals supported must bring public benefit and we are looking to support programme or resources which can be accessed by the public at least in part without charge.


If you are interested in this call out and would like to find out more, read the PDF Document with further details about the New in Town Call Out below (click the button)

Photo Credits : Joanne Coates, The Unseen Beautiful Call Out Commission 2019. Creative Darlington

New In Town is a Call Out brought to you by Creative Darlington, backed by Darlington Borough Council.

Tracks and Networks

I was very honoured for Tracks to have been selected to attend Brighton’s The Great Escape Festival as a participant of their brand new TGE Elevate scheme, an Arts Council funded project to help the music leaders of the future access the conference and festival.    Without the support of Creative Darlington, even with the free delegates pass, I would not have been able to attend due to cost of travel and accommodation.

The Great Escape Festival is classed as ‘the’ music industries festival. It showcases hundreds of upcoming bands and artists who are seen as the innovative stars of the future live music scene. During the day conferences, Q and A’s and networking on a wide variety of topics take place across Brighton.

It was great to be part of the Elevate scheme as it put me together with promoters, musicians and venues from across the UK who are all facing the similar barriers that Tracks do. We shared a lot of common ground and it was reassuring to feel that we’re all in the same boat and get tips from each other.  Our mentors from The Great Escape made us very welcome with an opening night dinner and launch party on the (slightly chilly) beach, plus we had daily debriefs with Q and A’s with invited speakers exclusively for us. 

I found it refreshing and exciting to meet more women working in grassroots music, here in the North East, we are a bit of a rare occurrence. I attended the Association of Independent Music’s Women In Music Breakfast, a presentation on PRS’s scheme “Keychange” that support’s female musicians and went to a panel discussion called “DIY Women In Music” featuring speakers from She Said So, PRS, Red Bull’s Normal Not Novelty and Women In Live Music organisations.  

I attended an excellent presentation by “Attitude Is Everything’ called “Breaking Into Normal Land” who Tracks spoke to last year ahead of Last Train Home Festival to see how we could make our festival more inclusive. They had a panel of disabled musicians talking about their experiences and how promoters and venues can help to make their experience more positive for the performers and for any audience members with disabilities. 

The BBC Introducing presentation was really positive, we have worked with BBC Introducing at BBC Tees for a while now, but it was great to have an opportunity to speak to Radio 1’s Huw Stephens about the North East music scene and to give him a copy of our Noisy Daughters album which features female artists from Darlington and the surrounding area.

After the conferences were finished for the day and we had attended our Elevate debrief, it was time to go and experience some excellent live music. The venues varied massively in size and style from little back rooms of pubs, to underground caverns and even a tent on the beach.

Band hi-lights for me were  South London alt-punks “Shame”, the poptastic “Self Esteem” and Austria/Bristol’s feminist punks “Petrol Girls”. 

I hadn’t realised how few bands I would get to see due to the majority of my days being spent in conference. However I made great new connections, discovered a whole host of organisations I wasn’t aware of, expanded my knowledge of the independent music scene and various funding pots and spread the word of music from the North East.     At times I felt a bit like an alien, 80% of people I spoke to had never heard of Darlington and several people remarked that they “loved my accent”. I definitely felt an affinity with any fellow northerners I came across.    It is my hope to bring to Darlington some of the musicians I met at The Great Escape to perform at our Last Train Home Festival on Saturday 7th September and to use my new found knowledge and connections to further develop the work that Tracks does in Darlington.

Creative Darlington was delighted to support Tracks engagement with The Great Escape Elevate scheme in May 2019.  Sarah Wilson from Tracks attended The Great Escape Festival For New Music in Brighton, her thoughts above. We’re looking forward to future fantastic Tracks activity particularly the Last Train Home music and comedy festival on Saturday 7 September 2019.

Artist-in-residence opportunity with Creative Darlington in collaboration with the Middlesbrough Art Weekender.

Proposals are now being sought for an artist-in-residence opportunity at Darlington library and archives. This residency will be a satellite project of the Middlesbrough Art Weekender, generously supported by Creative Darlington and located at the Darlington Library and Crown Street Gallery. Artists applying should be from or based in the North East.

Artists wishing to apply for this residency opportunity are encouraged to consider the history of public space / libraries, their users and how publics engage with these spaces and what futures these interactions may have.

It is envisaged that the artist will work in Darlington Library for 3 days per week over a period of four weeks. This may include engaging with the library institution, with the archive collections, affiliated groups or general library users. The proposed projects should have some form of public facing process that makes use of the Crown Gallery space within the library during the residency, as well as culminating in a performance/exhibition/project occurring at Crown Street Gallery, Darlington which is located inside the library.

There is an artist fee of 2.5K plus a project budget inclusive of travel up to 2.5K attached to this project. Additional tech support can be supplied by the The Middlesbrough Art Weekender.

Dates: 12th August to 12th September


The Library:

Darlington Borough Council has been promoting a conversation and seeking public views on how the library service at Crown Street could look in the future. Crown Street Library itself plays host to a number of regular well attended groups including a Knitting Circle, local history events and book festivals and readings.

Gallery / Activity Space:

There is a gallery called the Crown Street Gallery situated within the library – a large single room space that would benefit as a site of the artist’s ongoing activities with (or accessible by) the public whilst in residence and as a final exhibiting / performance / installation space. A flexible approach will be needed in working around other events taking place at times during the residency period.


The archive is a wondrous labyrinth of donated works from various eras. The archive can act as an inspiration and resource for the residency and/or as possible material to be used and even exhibited in some manner.

There is a local studies collection of over 40,000 images of local people and places, some of these are oil paintings and watercolours. There is also a historic and contemporary poster collection.

Note: there is currently an embargo on filming or photography in the spaces within the subterranean archive spaces and other non-public areas of Darlington Library.

Middlesbrough Art Weekender 2019:

This year, the Middlesbrough Art Weekender 2019 looks at autonomy as the overarching theme of the festival programme. An opportunity to engage with the festival through an artist talk also forms part of this call.


Please submit all information in a single Pdf

Email Applications to middlesbroughartweekend@gmail.com

● Approx 500 words detailing an approach to the residency

● Availability schedule / project timeline

● Outcomes – proposals need to include details of potential  outcome at Crown Street Gallery.

● Indicative budget

● 3 x links to relevant previous work

Submission deadline: Monday 15th July 5.00pm

Useful links:

Creative Darlington www.creativedarlington.org.uk

Middlesbrough art weekender 2018 www.middlesbroughartweekender.com

Library website www2.darlington.gov.uk

Images of Crown Street Gallery

Tuesday 23 July – Free reading fast approaching by poets at Darlington Library

Unseen Beautiful clearly appealed

Image credit Joanne Coates

April 2019 saw Creative Darlington collaborating with Lens Think to bring a second call out for 2019. The call out invited people to submit images through Instagram of the ‘Unseen Beautiful’ in and around Darlington. 

Photo credit: Joanne Coates

We were particularly interested in our beautiful surroundings and everyday things that you think showcase our town through a different perspective.

Photo credit: Joanne Coates

We received an amazing response to the call out with around 700 images submitted by end of April 2019. Selected submissions were showcased through an exhibition at Crown Street Gallery, which opened on Saturday 18 May 2019 and closed on Wednesday 29 May 2019. The exhibition also included images commissioned from Joanne Coates of Darlington Library, Darlington Town Centre and other aspects of Darlington community. 

Photo credit: Joanne Coates

During the exhibition visitors to the gallery could enjoy over 700 images permenantly on display, a rolling projection of images from the call out and take time to explore Unseen Beautiful Darlington through three drop in creative sessions.  People were encouraged to vote for their favourite image in the exhibtion with the winning image announced at the end of the exhibition.

Photo credit: Luke Piper

Congratulations to Luke Piper for winning the public vote for the Unseen Beautiful Call Out. Luke will have a workshop with Joanne Coates of Lens Think informing a  solo exhibition at Darlington Town Hall in spring 2020. We had an amazing response to both the call out and the voting. With such an incredible response, we decided that three runners up will also take part in the photography workshop.

The programme was very popular. Darlington Borough Council measured 1,576 visits to The Unseen Beautiful exhibition in the gallery at Darlington Library in May 2019. The exhibition ran Saturday 18 May 2019 – Wednesday 29 May 2019.   Over 350 votes were cast and it was encouraging in my view to see that 159 images were at least one person’s favourite.

Photo credit: Joanne Coates

A variety or organisations and enterprises made the Unseen Beautiful an intriguing and popular exhibition. Darlington based Trendsetters went above and beyond to support the production of the exhibition, Tees Valley Arts supported promotion and offered technical support and both they and North East Contemporary Visual Arts Network offered us the opportunity to do a social media takeover, spreading the word about the exhibition to new audiences.   Thanks to everyone who got involved and came to see the exhibition. We’re planning future Call Outs, keep your eyes peeled!

Bulldog clip sales rocketed in Darlington during exhibition

The Unseen Beautiful, Closing Event

Join Lens Think and Creative Darlington this evening from 5.30pm at Crown Street Gallery for food, drink and to find out the winner of The Unseen Beautiful Call Out.

Visitors to the exhibition have cast their votes for their favourite photograph and we will reveal the who will be in receipt of a one day photography workshop with Joanne Coates (photographer and founder of Lens Think) and a solo exhibition in 2020.

See you this evening!