Festival call out

Darlington for Culture (DfC) is seeking to hear from arts groups, venues, performers and businesses who would like to showcase themselves in the fifth Darlington Arts Festival, themed A Celebration of Talent and due to run from late April to the end of May 2017

The festival, again to be staged at a wide range of venues across the borough, is being co-ordinated by DfC, the group which speaks for arts and culture in the area. Planning is well under way for the 2017 festival, which will include:

* A month-long literary festival, featuring readings and writing workshops

* Arts-based events involving a wide range of artists

* A Film Festival to be run by Darlington Film Club, which is based at the Forum in Borough Road

* A series of music events

Deadline for inclusion in the brochure is Jan 31.

Details can be sent to darlo4culture@gmail.com

Collection on show

A series of paintings of unknown women have provided the inspiration for a new exhibition in Darlington.

The canvases form part of Darlington Borough Council’s art collection and were unearthed by North East curator Michaela Wetherell who launched an appeal asking the public and other artists to help tell the stories of the forgotten women.

‘Tell Her Story’, which opens at Crown Street Art Gallery on Tuesday 22 November, will feature the original paintings alongside a series of new artworks created by artists from across the region and beyond.

The project has been supported by Creative Darlington and the Arts Council England and features the work of artists Alyson Agar, Mircea Cirtog, Sarah Cooney, Norma Kylem Tallulah Lines, James Quinn, Jonnny Lancaster, Helen Steel and Helen Winthorpe Kendrick.

 ‘Tell Her Story’ will run from Tuesday 22 November until Thursday 12 January. For more information about the gallery and Creative Darlington, log onto the website at www.darlington.gov.uk/creativedarlington.


Photo caption: Stephen Wiper, Creative Darlington manager, and Michaela Wetherell, curator, with one of the original paintings from the art collection to be featured in the exhibition – ‘Fear of the unknown’ by artist Tony Peart

Author returns

A popular gervase-phinnNorth Yorkshire author will be returning to Darlington Library to talk about his latest books.

Professor Gervase Phinn is probably best known for his best-selling autobiographical novels ‘The Other Side of the Dale’, ‘Over the Hill and Dale’ and ‘Head Over Heels in the Dales’.

He will be returning to Darlington’s Crown Street Library on Monday 19 December to talk about the latest in his Little Village School series ‘Secrets at the Village School’.

He has also recently released his second book in ‘The best days of our lives’ series entitled ‘Grandparents’.

As a former teacher, education advisor and school inspector, Gervase has a particular interest in children’s reading and is also President of The School Library Association as well as Visiting Professor of Education at the University of Teesside. He is also an award-winning speaker having been presented with the Association of Speakers’ Club’s ‘Speaker of the Year Award’ in 2004.

His many books include academic texts as well as stories for children, and he has also made many television and radio appearances as he now works full-time as a lecturer, broadcaster and writer.

Tickets for ‘An Evening with Gervase Phinn’ cost £6, which includes wine and nibbles, and the event starts at 7pm.

For more information or to book your place call into Darlington Library or call 01325 462034.

Princes Trust Explore Enterprise Course with Navigator North


When? Monday 7th to Thursday 10th November

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

Navigator North will be hosting Prince’s Trust for a four day professional development opportunity – Explore Enterprise, as part of their ongoing professional development programme in 2016.

There are 8 FREE places available to emerging artists between the ages of 18 to 30 years old, who work less than 16 hours per week. As well as being able to attend all four days participants should be able to attend a one hour introductory session between 10.30am and 11.30am on Monday 24th October

The four days will include –

Day one: Inspirational talk, personal goals and skills, personal money, legal structures
Day two: Marketing and selling
Day three: HMRC, pricing, managing money in a business
Day four: Business plans, mentoring and next steps, practice session

These sessions, led by staff and volunteers are designed to be practical, interactive, visual and based around discussions and activities.

Places are limited. To reserve your place email emma.dixon@princes-trust.org.uk with Prince’s Trust/Navigator North in the subject header by Friday 21st October.

Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis, with a reserve list in place if it is oversubscribed.

For further information visit The Prince’s Trust website



The Women’s Voices Project – Make Do and Mend Tour

After the pilot performance received local and international recognition last year,  Make do and Mend has been fine-tuned and it is time to share with audiences across the North East!

Reflecting on childhood, motherhood and marriage, Make Do and Mend is a powerful production, telling real life stories of County Durham women who have suffered and survived the trauma of Domestic Abuse. Written in verbatim format, it invites the audience to experience first-hand, three poignant local stories, in a visually compelling and moving production.


Audiences have described the Women’s Voices Project work as:

“Visual and clever representation, an innovative way to communicate and resonate with people.”

Feedback from preview performances of Make Do and Mend confirmed that this play has value for those affected by Domestic Abuse as an “empowering” reminder “of courage and hope and that there is a way out.” But it is also a valuable reminder that we are all responsible for bringing an end to this insidious crime. 87% of preview audiences said they would be more likely to offer to help somebody they suspected was experiencing Domestic Abuse as a result of watching our play.

The Women’s Voices Project (managed by Changing Relations) was set up in 2014 to give voice to local women and challenge the prevalence of violence perpetrated against them. A number of creative events have since been organised and delivered aimed at empowering women through participatory arts and enabling women survivors of Domestic Abuse across County Durham to shape a performance representative of their experiences.


Navigator North Studio Bursaries for Teesside and County Durham based emerging artists

Studio Bursaries_Header_RGBNavigator North are currently offering a variety of high quality professional development opportunities for emerging artists based in Teesside and/or County Durham. We’ve already seen STABLE at Festival of Thrift and Stargazing Tents at Nightfall in Middlesbrough. Navigator are now offering two Studio Bursaries for emerging artists who live or work in Teesside or Co Durham who want to develop their studio practice.


The bursary will include a studio space in Middlesbrough for 6 months from October 2016 to March 2017, mentoring support and East Street Arts membership.


The closing date for applications is 9am on Tuesday 20th September


Interested in applying? Request an application pack email opportunities@navigatornorth.com with the email subject as ‘STUDIO BURSARY’


If you’d like further information about North East-based arts organisation Navigator North, then head over to their website.

This project is part of a number of opportunities being offered as part of a professional development programme for artists in 2016/2017 by Navigator North. This programme includes artist commissions and bursaries, space for artists, business advice and training and visits to and from key arts organisations and events in Teesside and beyond.

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The Hot House – making things happen

Arts organisation Darlington for Culture has launched an initiative which it hopes will spark new creative partnerships in the town.

The Hot House, which offers to bring creatives together to work on new projects, has its roots in a chance encounter five years ago when Darlington Arts Centre was still open and which led to a stage premiere in the town.

The encounter which sparked the idea was between members of The Darlington Green Theatre company and Darlington-based Inkerman Writers in the Centre in 2011.

Darlington Green Theatre asked the writers to produce three one-act plays. The result was Branching Out, written by Inkerman writers Bud Craig, Sandra Spears and Pat Stewart and performed over two nights by the theatre company.

The event was brokered by Darlington for Culture, which was at that time running events at the Arts Centre.

Since the Centre closed, opportunities for such chance meetings have been reduced but there have been many examples of Darlington for Culture brokering events, including art exhibitions, musical events and theatrical events, hence the idea behind the Hot House, a chance to bring artists of all types together.

John Dean, Chair of Darlington for Culture and a member of the Inkerman Writers, said: “These events got us thinking. How many more theatre groups need writers? How many filmmakers need lighting experts? How many singers need musicians?

“That’s what our Hot House is all about, a chance to plant ideas, seek help to make them happen and see what grows.”

Darlington for Culture vice-chair Jo Potter, also one of the team that runs Darlington Green Theatre, said: “Branching Out was a thoroughly enjoyable project and we hope The Hot House finds more like it.”

Writer Sandra Spears said: “Seeing my play in performance was a fantastic opportunity, made possible by the collaboration between Inkerman Writers and Green Theatre.

“I have first-hand experience of how effective creatives from all areas can make working together successful and I shall certainly be using the Hot House for my future projects.”

Inkerman Writer Bud Craig said: “I have fond memories of the collaboration with Green Theatre that got my play produced. I’d jump at the chance to do something similar so hope this new venture gets off the ground.”

To find out how to promote your project through the Hot House, please visit http://www.darlingtonforculture.org/the-hot-house/


Head, Heart, Hands in Darlington

With support of Darlington Borough Council, Creative Darlington arts and cultural organisations and venues across Darlington, this project aims to create an arts and cultural strategy for looked after children and the adults in their lives and is led by Blue Cabin.  Blue Cabin Director, Jenny Young, organised events in July working with Darlington Borough Council at the Forum Music Centre and at Business Central in Darlington consulting with various artists, producers, venues and cultural organisations.

Next up at the Town Hall exhibition space – Elaine Vizor

From Monday 15th August to Friday 30th September 2016, a selection of work by Elaine Vizor, some of which was recently exhibited at Greenfield Arts Centre, will be on display in the Darlington Town Hall exhibition space which is open to the public during normal Town Hall opening hours.


She shall be called Woman celebrates the intrinsic worth of all women and women over fifty in particular.

Elaine’s work was recently included in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portraiture Prize Exhibition 2014 which was displayed at the London National Portrait Gallery and the Sheffield Millennium Gallery 2015.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IncludFEST Tees Valley goes great in Darlington


IncludFEST returned to South Park for a second year on Sunday 24th July with a bigger programme and more visitors despite a cocktail of ‘summer’ sunshine and showers. This free event is an inclusive arts festival for children, young people and their families.


This year, thanks to a great suggestion from Sarah Wilson of Big Little Gigs, IncludFEST opened with a mass bubble blow.


We’d like to bring IncludFEST back to Darlington next year, and to make it even bigger and better!

Thanks to organisers TinArts, funders and those who helped to make the event a great success including many volunteers from Darlington for Culture.