Festival of Thrift, Creative Fuse and Navigator North are presenting an exciting opportunity for artists and creative, cultural or digital businesses working in the Tees Valley Region to take part in a short programme between October and December 2018.

The first of these opportunities will welcome you to join us to find out more about the programme, tell us what support you need and how to secure a place for further support, workshops and bespoke mentoring.


What: C O L L I D E R S C O P E  Welcome session

When: Wednesday 31st October, 2-4pm

Where: Navigator North, Dundas House, Middlesbrough, TS1 1HY

Book your place here

In 2018, supported by Tees Valley Combined Authority, Festival of Thrift initiated a programme of commissions – Viewpoints – aimed at encouraging artists to engage with ideas of sustainability and to create work which would provide a viewpoint on a related issue and / or be located at a viewpoint in the Tees Valley.

For 2019, as part of the run up to a Tees Valley bid for City of Culture 2025 the Festival wishes to develop the project to embed artists within regional low carbon industries, sharing knowledge, ideas and skills.

VIEWPOINTS will be a national call out, but prior to the commissions there is an exciting opportunity for creative, cultural or digital businesses and sole traders working in the Tees Valley Region to develop pitching skills, upscale work, work bigger, test out new materials and push their practice in new directions.

Festival of Thrift have teamed up with CREATIVE FUSE and NAVIGATOR NORTH to deliver a short programme October – December 2018 for select participants to gain new knowledge and develop a fit for purpose approach to bidding for and presenting innovative ideas.

Creative Fuse NE – Cultural Sector Update

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The second ever Middlesbrough Art Weekender ran from 4 – 7 October 2018 and took on the idea of connectivity (lots to work on there currently).   I understand some of the artists involved had committed time in advance of these dates exploring and engaging with The Auxiliary and with people and places in and around Middlesbrough collecting information for their art.  This Weekender felt bespoke, committed, exploratory and fresh as a result to me.  I expect the Weekender wouldn’t have had all this energy and excitement without the vision of its organisers and their commitment to  engaging with talented artists, encouraging exploration, developing connections and networks for the visual arts, beyond these days.

I travelled to the opening on the evening of Thursday 4 October by train. On arrival first stop was the Looking Down exhibition by Francesca Simon at Platform A gallery which runs until 15 November 2018. I found this exhibition beautiful and original, and I was impressed by the rigorous approach, the thorough and uncompromising investigation of perspectives, pattern and material, beautiful colours and construction within the work. I’m familiar with the impeccable presentation of exhibitions at Platform A and the friendly welcome there, but it was nice to experience this as part of a Middlesbrough wide programme involving 15 locations running over four days.  From Platform A I had a further look at Suzy Devey’s exhibition of linocut and drypoint portraits in The Tunnel Gallery (colourful, thought provoking, informed, illuminating, insightful).  Next I found the Warehouse(s) on Station Street.  On Thursday night and Sunday afternoon I saw installations, exhibitions, performance, group activity and creative practice in a variety of media, with some pieces presented inside buildings various and others outdoors or visible from the street.


During this year’s Weekender I visited Platform A, The Tunnel Gallery, Warehouse, Middlesbrough Town Hall, MIMA, Hill Street Centre and Captain Cook Square.  There were other locations I never made this time.  Common to all I visited was the warm welcome, the care and attention applied to production and the fact that the visual art I saw felt original, current and that it needed to made and shared, both in dedicated galleries/venues and pop-up spaces.


I was delighted to see crowds gathered in The Warehouse for the various performance pieces I came across, to hear voices from near and afar, and to see visual art which made me smile, delight, ponder, think anew and question.   The Warehouse was eye-catching and a delight of the programme overall was the way in which those involved had responded to, worked with and utilised some very diverse settings.

I was struck on Sunday by how well the space upstairs in Captain Cook Square and the street level space in The Hill Street Centre worked, by the quality and depth of the NE Open Call exhibition at mima (I loved the painting by Oliver Hoffmesiter) and of the installations within the former cells at Middlesbrough Town Hall.  It felt exciting to explore above the shop floor in a unit on Captain Cook Square, artwork held real sway, gravitas and beauty there.  I found the GOLDTAPPED group exhibition bold, mature, beautifully resolved and cleverly presented, to me it felt like a fantastic conjunction of space and function.


A lot of hard work  must have gone in to producing and curating Middlesbrough Art Weekender 2018, there were some big spaces and all felt fresh and thoughtfully presented.  The technical expertise applied and the vibrancy of the light, sound, moving image and installation pieces was delicate, relentless and creative – I didn’t notice anything on my two visits that felt technically compromised but there was a sense of energy and exploration throughout.  Late Sunday afternoon, as the Weekender was coming to a close, it was nice to sense the energy that was still on the street and in the participating spaces.  I found the Weekender print well designed and useful – I do like a map.  Friendly and visible people representing the programme encouraged me to step inside and explore those unfamiliar settings I encountered.  To me, Middlesbrough Art Weekender felt like a work OF progress.  Light, colour, sound, conversation, exploration, it was a pleasure.















Middlesbrough Art Weekender 2018

As Creative Darlington Manager I was delighted to attend the Middlesbrough Art Weekender Picnic this August in Darlington Market. The market gave a warm welcome and it was great to see artists gather there for an interesting discussion, led by artist Lydia Catterall as part of the extended weekender events. Lydia presented the following questions to an audience of local artists, organisations, curators and visitors

What contribution does art make to a place?
What’s the best thing you’ve been involved in locally?
What do artists in the Tees Valley need most?
What are your hopes for art and culture in the Tees Valley in the next 12 months? Or the next 5 years? Who are you connected to?



This evening marks the opening of Middlesbrough Art Weekender 2018 ‘an annual contemporary arts festival held in the post industrial town of Middlesbrough, located in the north east of England’. With activity across Middlesbrough, the weekender will be showcasing work by regional, national and international artists in a wide variety of spaces across Middlesbrough.



WHERE:  Crown Street Library, Darlington

WHEN:  Friday 2 November 2018

DOORS OPEN:  6.45pm

START:  7pm


AGE: 12 and up

FREE TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW:  Collect from Crown Street Library during standard opening hours

TELEPHONE:  01325 462034 during standard opening hours to reserve a ticket or tickets for this performance



Do you use a mobile phone or computer every day? How much personal data do you give away each day to navigate your digital life? Could you unplug, even if you wanted to?


Digital dance company Pell Ensemble invites you into the world of EPOQ: A live gaming experience where your choices become data, uploaded to shape a new human being.


On entering the space you will meet David, ready to be brought to life by your data. From the safety of your seat and through a custom built app on a mobile device, your every tap, swipe and swirl will inform who David becomes.


Through your input David experiences the joy, fear and complexity of being human. But at what cost – will your data be put to good use? And what happens to it once the experience is over?


Upload or unplug – it’s your choice.


Co-Produced with Helix Arts. Originally commissioned by Bedford Creative Arts 2017

Produced by Step Out Arts.

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

Supporting partners: ARC Stockton, Creative Darlington, Teesside University, Metal Peterborough, The Edge, Redbridge Drama Centre & Foyle Foundation

Digital Partners: Visual Pilots
Creative Technologists: Owen Hindley (Huldufugl) and Alexander Wallin





Twitter: @pellensemble

Instagram: @pell_ensemble



LAST TRAIN HOME Music and Comedy festival took place on Saturday 22 September 2018 in Darlington. I’d bought my ticket a few weeks back at the Pennyweight priced £15 in advance and collected my wristband and a beautifully designed and easy to use programme from the Hullabaloo around 1.30pm. Tickets were also available at £20 on the day, and with Tracks eye to detail,  brilliant support from all the venues and from Darlington Cultural Volunteers, the festival was easy to engage with.  BARGAIN I now reflect, given the variety and quality of programme.  I enjoyed great performers and bands from early afternoon right through to Pins bringing the festival to a close at 10.30pm.  I heard some brilliant music at five fantastic friendly venues, with clear promotion, a strong brand, smiling faces and dynamic performances aplenty and a real buzz around the Town.   All of the venues which hosted the LAST TRAIN FESTIVAL are located in close proximity to Darlington’s Bank Top station and it was a pleasure to be able to stroll from one to another.  A clear programme and the impactful brand and banners for LAST TRAIN HOME helped me explore the breadth of choice available.

Darlington based Tracks curated programmes at Hogan’s, The Hullabaloo and St John’s church, Legitimate Anarchy curated the programme a Legacy Skate store (with a fantastic crowd enjoying great live performances in the backyard of the store and from the adjoining alley), Narc. magazine curated the programme at Banktop and Hilarity Bites curated comedy at The Greyhound.  There were some brilliant performers and bands.  Things which stood out for me were what a treat it was to sample fabulous and original music of many types in different venues,  how brilliant Peg Powler’s music sounded with the acoustics at St John’s,  the warm welcome shown at all the venues for LAST TRAIN HOME and how right the festival felt in Darlington.

I enjoyed Peg Powler at St John’s, Oilbirds at Hogan’s, Endem and Leum at Legacy Skate, Eve Conway at Banktop, Vulgarians then The Lovely Eggs at Hogan’s and Pins at The Hullabaloo, they were all brilliant and it felt like an effortless adventure.    How easy it felt and how much fun it was also stood out for me, but I do recognise how much effort, expertise, marketing and promotion, expert curation and thorough planning and energy has gone in.  I hope those involved either got to enjoy the Afterparty or can reflect in the cold light of day on a creating a brilliant music and comedy festival here in Darlington.  There were photographers and phones recording things aplenty, and the dancing, smiles, conversation and energy of the audiences showed the appetite for the festival.  All of the performances I saw had good audiences, particularly as the evening drew in.

Many thanks to Tracks for bringing LAST TRAIN HOME and other activity here.   Looking forward to seeing what’s coming next.




The Arts Society, North Yorkshire & South Durham – lecture programme 2018/19

A fantastic programme of lectures organised by The Arts Society and held at The St George Hotel, Durham Tees Valley Airport, for more information contact Rita Smith at ritasmithart@gmail.comProgramme Sheet 1 best pdf Programme sheet 2- best copy pdfprogramme 3 best – pdfstudy days sheet 4; 2018-19 copy

Picasso at Play – exhibition coming this way

A unique exhibition of photographs of Picasso by the acclaimed 20th century American photographer Lee Miller.

The photographs show the artist relaxing with friends and family at Lee’s house in Sussex, as well as at Picasso’s home in the South of France.These photos have never been on display in the North East. The Arts Society NorthYorkshire and South Durham have sponsored this exhibition as part of their Young Arts Education Programme, working in collaboration with Lee’s son, Antony Penrose and The Farley Arts Trust.

The exhibition will be on display 1 -25 October, 2018

Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College,Vane Terrace, Darlington, DL3 7AU

Tel: 01325 461315

Email: enquiry@qeliz.ac.uk

Open weekdays 9am – 5pm and Mondays and Thursdays until 8pm. Please contact College to check access.

Preview Monday 1 October 5.30 – 8pm. Everyone welcome

The Young King comes to Darlington this November


Image: Andy Ellis


Pioneering organisation Theatre Hullabaloo is bringing The Young King to Darlington on Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 November 2018 with Creative Darlington support, helping to ensure that children and young people in Darlington get to see the best theatre made for young audiences.  It’s not too long until The Young Prince arrives here and there’s lots more to see and do with Theatre Hullabaloo in the meantime.


Image: Andy Rasheed


The Young King (age 8+)


By Oscar Wilde, adapted for the stage by Nicki Bloom
Presented by Slingsby


The Hullabaloo

Wednesday 14 & Thursday 15 November 2018

10.15am show time (30 mins pre-show from 9.45am)
1.45pm show time (30 min pre-show from 1.15pm)

Journey in wonder, to a land of challenging choices and rich rewards.

What kind of King would you be? A naïve boy raised by goatherds is discovered to be heir to the kingdom. Treasures and privileges are laid at his feet, but at what cost to others? The achingly beautiful and tender language of Oscar Wilde joins the intimate and magical world of internationally acclaimed Adelaide theatre company, Slingsby. Journey in wonder, to a land of challenging choices and rich rewards.

You are cordially invited to participate in the coronation celebrations for The Young King. Please arrive up to 30 minutes prior to the advertised performance start time for the pre-show coronation celebrations.

Tickets: £7 / family ticket £24
To book: Call the Box Office on 01325 405 405 or visit theatrehullabaloo.org.uk


  Images: Andy Rasheed


Last Train Home Music/Comedy Festival (Final Line Up)


Tickets are £15 ADV and are on sale now. They can be purchased online from Skiddle or physically from The Pennyweight. One of my friends, Paul, who is something of a music afficianado advised there are some acts on the bill he would pay at least that much to see on their own (think he’s a PINS and Lovely Eggs fan), let alone as part of such a rich progamme, and as a consequence  I bought my ticket today at The Pennyweight on Darlington Market Square.

Get train. Get off train. Find yourself in the heart of the action. See some great music and comedy in Darlington. Get train back home. That is the basic premise of Last Train Home, a new music and comedy festival coming to Darlington on Saturday 22nd September 2018, although as a Darlington resident living near the station and working in the Town Centre I’m sure there’ll be a warm welcome for those travelling to and from the venues hosting a fantastic programme on foot, by bike, bus, car, motorcyle, or scooter as well.

The event is organised by Darlington music collective Tracks in association with Arts Council England & Creative Darlington and working alongside Hilarity Bites Comedy Club, NARC. Magazine and Legitimate Anarchy (a Darlington based hip-hop record label). The festival utilises the venues/spaces around the town’s main train station (including Theatre Hullabaloo, Hogans, St John the Evangelist church, The Greyhound, Bank Top Central & Legacy Skate Store) as well as Darlington’s excellent transport links, showcasing a plethora of touring, regional and local talent and finishing in time for festival goers to catch the last train home.

David Saunders from Tracks explains the inspiration for the event came from, “Darlington’s transport links are some of the best in the region and lately the town has been undergoing a cultural renaissance. We just thought it would be a great idea to hold a really exciting music and comedy festival to celebrate and showcase what is going on, but also have the festival timings revolving around the train timetable so that people from surrounding areas can come down and enjoy the fun. Being a public transport user I’m always relieved when I can get to and from a venue/festival with ease and without having to head back halfway through the final act.”

Trains, transport and concept to one side, Last Train Home promises a high calibre of both nationally and regionally recognised artists performing throughout the day.  Sarah Wilson from Tracks advises “there will be exciting new hip-hop artists, folk bands, rock n roll, electro, punk, rock and a comedy stage, all for the bargain ticket price of £15 if you book in advance. There’s something for all tastes and will hopefully bring a few new faces to the town whilst reconnecting and providing something new for the Darlington music fans.”

Headlining The Hullabaloo stage are Manchester five-piece PINS who recently performed as part of Lauren Laverne’s GET North event at Sage, Gateshead debuting a storming new line up featuring two drummers. The band’s EP Bad Thing, saw the band working with the likes of Iggy Pop and Jamie Hince (The Kills) which received radio support from the likes of Lauren Laverne and Steve Lamacq at 6Music.


The penultimate act on the bill are Peckham-formed, viciously loud YOWL who capture the frustration of the 9-to-5 London grind like few others and in frontman Gabriel Byrde, they have someone who can spin poetry on songs about alienation and exhaustion. They’ll be joined by hotly tipped Scottish 4-piece, The Van T’s whose ‘surf-pop with rock swagger balanced by sugar-pop harmonies’ have gained the attentions of radio DJs and music publications around UK and Europe. Joining them are York’s dark hypnotic, post-punk popsters The Howl & The Hum, blues rock busker and online sensation Cam Cole, experimental electro band, Ronald Raygun, tender-psych outfit Sonder Minds and Teesside indie-rockers Salsola.


Bringing the Hogans stage to a close are The Lovely Eggs, an underground surreal-psych punk rock duo from northern England. With observational and often surreal lyrics about life The Lovely Eggs have a powerful stripped down sound: one vintage guitar amp, one Big Muff distortion pedal, a guitar and a drum kit.

The Lovely Eggs

With seven BBC 6 music sessions under their belt, as well as sessions for Radio One and XFM, The Lovely Eggs have enjoyed huge support from BBC 6 Music. Marc Riley declared their last THREE singles “ I Shouldn’t Have Said That”, “Drug Braggin” and ”Goofing Around (in Lancashire)” his official top tracks of 2015, 2016 and 2017 with the band also attracting airplay from DJs Huw Stephens, Steve Lamacq, Lauren Laverne, Chris Hawkins, Gideon Coe, Shaun Keavney, Radcliffe and Maconie and Jarvis Cocker. The latest “This Is Eggland” was produced and mixed by Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Mogwai, MGMT, Tame Impala) at his studio in upstate New York. It was released in February 2018 to critical acclaim. With 5 and 4 star reviews in the national press (including The Independent, Record Collector, Louder Than War, Shindig and Morning Star, the album went straight to Number 9 in the Independent album charts. Uncut Magazine described it as “Exhilarating and trashy”, The Guardian as “marvellous”, “yes that good!” from The Quietus and “unrelenting” from Pitchfork. In February the pair headed out on a 10-date sold out tour of the UK with poet and comedian Phill Jupitus, producing their very own tour zine (to accompany the new album) and playing rammed chaotic shows to an army of growing fans.

Also announced for that are Vulgarians who have gained fan support from The Wytches, Baby In Vain and Weirds, with The Wytches personally inviting Vulgarians to be their tour support in late 2015. Prior to the release of Life’s Successful Death last year, the group were asked by 6 Music Steve Lamacq to perform on the BBC Introducing Stage at The Great Escape, ahead of their first headline tour through summer. From there the band have gone on to support the likes of Happy Meal Ltd, TRAAMS, Gang and Weirds. Completing the line up are the much hyped, energy rich hip-hop trio RoninClan, hotly tipped dirty reverb-soaked indie rock n rollers, Courtyards, The Mysterines – A bluesy, chiller psych trio who supported Miles Kane on his recent tour and local garage rock outfits The Salvadors, Oilbirds and Petals.


Recently announced headliners of the St John’s church stage are Bang Bang Romeo, a Doncaster-based 3-piece, fronted by a 22 year old female vocalist with a truly show stopping ‘once in 20 years voice’ that is unrivalled. They have been honing their craft, receiving rave reviews along the way and this Summer have been playing all the big UK festivals. Bang Bang Romeo herald the arrival of a truly unique, fresh talent that their forthcoming debut album demonstrates perfectly. Featuring many one-take tracks the album takes the listener on an unforgettable journey and has all the makings of a classic. Their music has been described as sounding “…like a Tarantino soundtrack” (Huw Stephens, BBC Radio 1) and “like a hard-edged Fleetwood Mac” (Radio X).

Bang Bang Romeo

Joining them is Futureheads frontman and solo artists, Barry Hyde. English post-punk band The Futureheads are one of the best-known and highly-regarded indie groups to have enjoyed mainstream success in the noughties. With singles such as ‘Decent Days and Nights’, ‘Hounds of Love’, and ‘The Beginning of the Twist’ cemented as modern classics, the band have scored 7 top 40 singles, 3 top 40 albums, and played hundreds of live shows across the globe. Over the course of 13 years, The Futureheads played every major music festival in the world and supported bands such as Oasis, Foo Fighters, Muse, Pixies and Queens of the Stone Age at major concerts in different continents. Frontman and creative force behind the band, Barry Hyde, will be returning to the stage, performing solo acoustic guitar shows of the anthems everyone knows and loves. The set will include songs from all five Futureheads albums and also a few choice songs from his critically acclaimed debut solo album ‘Malody’, released last year on his own Sirenspire Records.

Also announced for that stage are hotly Songwriter Tom Joshua who attracted support from BBC 6 Music and BBC Radio 2’s Jo Whiley. Alongside him is folk songstress Samantha Durnan, Rising country star Hayley McKay, melody rich acoustic act James Gray Robson, gospel blues gang The Dead Seat and roots/folk band Peg Powler.

Local music/culture magazine NARC are taking over the Bank Top Central stage. Their line up is filled with a plethora of excellent regional talent and headlined by Harri Endersby. Growing up in County Durham and its thriving folk scene, Harri Endersby’s music has been heavily influenced by the region’s crowd of prestigious folk singers and musicians, her lyrics being firmly rooted in the pastoral and the world of storytelling. Her new album ‘Homes/Lives’ presents a transition in style, beginning with acoustic, stripped-back tracks whilst gradually introducing electronic instrumentation and beats as the album progresses. This interweaving of genres has been inspired by Harri’s love of Icelandic electro-folk and the likes of Ásgeir and Samaris.

Harri Endersby

Her 5-track EP ‘Ivy Crown’ released in 2014, rose to number 17 in the iTunes singer-songwriter charts and had tracks played on BBC Newcastle Introducing, The Folk Show on Bishop FM, and Roger William’s ‘World of Difference’. Her new album ‘Homes/Lives’ was released on the 25th February 2017.

Joining her is Newcastle’s alt-pop artist Martha Hill who has toured the UK and Europe twice, and has released her debut single “Spiders”. Completing the line up is gritty, gospel inspired singer/ songwriter Eve Conway, gothic psych act Sticky Pearls, electro duo Talk Like Tigers, alt-rockers Duchess and indie quartet Dolphin Centre.

Darlington hip-hop label, Legitimate Anarchy’s stage at Legacy Skate Store is brimming with hip-hop talent including Shakk, Rex Regis, Liam Hope, Endem & Leum, Jister, & Kv$hnoodle. “We’ve went for a bit of everything. From chill-hop in Jister, angsty alt-hop from Kush and grime 140 from Liam Hope, there’s something for every type of rap/hip hop fan.” explains stage curator Nathan Miller of Legitimate Anarchy.

For fans of stand up comedy, Hilarity Bites have put on mammoth line up of laughs at The Greyhound, as Neil Jollie explains… “At Hilarity Bites we’re delighted to join forces with Tracks to programme the comedy stage for this exciting new festival. We’ve tried to bring a bit of something for everyone, with some of the cream of the comedy circuit joining brilliant local comedians. We’ve also got musical comedians, impressionists, and even a mind-reader, so there’s sure to be something to entertain everyone that stops by the comedy stage as they enjoy a great day in Darlington.”

The whole line up for the day includes Cal Halbert, deemed ‘the new generation of comedy’ by Michael McIntyre. A well known as an impressionist, Halbert is one half of ‘The Mimic Men’, the UK’s only impressionist double act! The Mimic Men appeared on Britain’s Got Talent in 2016, gaining four yeses accompanied by a standing ovation by the judges, audience and Ant and Dec.

Doug Segal will be looking to wow the audience with amazing feats of mind reading/mind control mixed with his own brand of comedy. Described by Time Out as “the UK’s best kept entertainment secret”, Doug was the winner of the Best Cabaret Award at the Brighton Fringe in 2012, and the Three Weeks Editor’s Award at the Edinburgh Fringe also in 2012. Doug has appeared on BBC One’s New Year’s Eve live show alongside Natasha Kaplinsky and Claire Balding which was seen by an audience of 9.5 million viewers and in 2014 Doug enjoyed a successful tour of the UK with his critically acclaimed show, I Can Make You A Mentalist.

Doug Segal

Other acts that feature include Steve Shanyaski (as seen on ‘Jason Manford’s Comedy Rocks’ on ITV, and Comedy Central’s ‘Comedy Store Presents), Eddy Brimson (one of the UK circuit’s most in-demand headline acts and regular contributor on both BBC Radio 5 Live and TalkSport),

Ruth Cockburn (whose play “Saturday Boy” was also nominated for Best new writing in Buxtons” Fringe 2008), Sully O’Sullivan (declared a highlight of the New Zealand International Comedy Festival by The NZ Herald and a highlight of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival by The Scotsman), John Whale (semi-finalist of ‘So You Think Your’re Funny?’ and has performed twice for BBC Comedy Presents, the second time being at the Edinburgh Festival), Rob Mulholland (current Hilarity Bites New Act of the Year) Stephanie Laing’s (who performed at Edinburgh Festival in 2010, 2012, and 2015), and Nicky Wilkinson (one-half of multiple award winning double-act The Kagools and resident compere at the award winning Funny Side Comedy clubs).