The Forum Music Studios launches Young Blood programme for young people aged 13 – 24 years old. Apply to be part of Young Blood anytime up to midnight on Sunday 31st December 2023

The Forum Music Studios in Darlington has been awarded funding by Arts Council England recently which will be used to launch Young Blood – a creative music scheme aimed at 13 – 24 year olds, with applications now open to take part in Young Blood.

The Forum Music Studios not-for-profit community benefit society has designed the Young Blood programme to ensure young people have access and opportunities to engage and invest in the development of the live music sector. Young Blood will be held throughout 2024, and is split into three interconnected parts: Creators, Promoters and Live.

Young Blood Music Creators is a weekly session aimed at those 13 – 17 years old. During the sessions, the young creators will develop their music skills in a relaxed and creative environment, where they will have access to high quality resources and professional support.

The Young Blood Promoters programme, which begins in January 2024, has been designed for those aged 16 – 24 years old, and will give aspiring promoters the opportunity to organise a live event with a budget under guidance from mentors, including industry professionals.

The Creators and Promoters programmes culminate in Young Blood Live, a monthly gig night for teenagers (aimed at those 13 – 17 years old) that will be held at The Forum Music Centre.

“The music industry was heavily impacted by COVID-19, so it’s a privilege to be able to invite future generations to get involved in the Young Blood scheme and to be able to share their passion for live music.”

Alison McKay, Director of The Forum Music Studios

“This is an exciting new project that I hope will inspire future musicians and promoters. Thank you to Arts Council England for believing in and supporting our vision.”

Kirsten Yates, Creative Project Leader of Young Blood

Applications for Young Blood – Creators and Young Blood – Promoters are now available online. The deadline for applications is midnight on Sunday 31st December 2023. To find out more about Young Blood or to apply, visit The Forum Music Studios website (

Darlington Borough Council has also offered Heritage & Culture fund (Creative Darlington) budget support to Young Blood, given it offers young people opportunities to gain real world experience in coordinating and promoting events for their peers with support from The Forum Music Studios, offers opportunities for young people to enjoy live music in the borough, and delivers on one of the five priorities in Darlington Cultural Strategy 2022 – 2026 ‘for Darlington to champion engagement with culture, particularly amongst children and young people’.

Darlington Orchestra Winter Concert 2024

Darlington Orchestra’s next concert is on Saturday 27 January at 7.30pm in the Dolphin Centre’s Central Hall. The orchestra is looking forward to bringing light entertainment to a dark January evening. This accessible event presents a selection of popular classics, including a Viennese polka, a French march, a couple of English suites and music from the movies.

Special guests will be Darlington SING Community Choir performing two sets. The group is led by musical director Bridie Jackson, a renowned soloist and composer, and performs a wide variety of musical genres, predominantly in four-part acapella harmony. For more information about the choir, visit

Ticket prices for the Winter Concert remain the same as the previous concert – at just £5 and £7. A printed programme is included in the ticket price, providing brief details about the music and composers. Plus, there’ll be a version available for children aged 5–11 years.

When: Saturday 27 January 2024 at 7.30pm (doors open 7pm)

Where: Central Hall at the Dolphin Centre, Horsemarket, Darlington DL1 5RP

Call: 01325 406000

Tickets: £7 (£5 concessions) from the venue

Online tickets: (+ booking fee)

Please note: cash sales only at the concert for tickets (subject to availability)

Blue Cabin offer including free access to an online resource pack and a free training session on 4 December 2023 (booking required)

Creative Darlington has supported Blue Cabin as a partner and project funder, in making it possible for care-experienced babies and children in Darlington to benefit from music-making sessions which have been specially designed to promote development and attachment.

Blue Cabin have now extended their This is the Place project to include a bank of free, online resources which mean that anyone can learn more about early years music-making and the impact it can have on babies and children. It includes a playlist of songs, a short film and podcast episodes, explaining how singing and music can help with attachment, language acquisition, communication and development. 

They’re also holding a free, in-person training session on early years music-making in Darlington on Monday 4 December 2023 (more info and tickets are available here: 

Blue Cabin want as many people as possible have access to these free resources.  I’m delighted Creative Darlington and colleagues in Darlington Borough Council’s Looked After Children Resources are backing their brilliant work, which has secured Youth Music grant support.

Free arts and crafts sessions led by Cabinet of Curiosity Studio at Darlington Library this December – booking required!

Christmas North Star-paper craft workshop-main image-Cabinet of Curiosity Studio
Christmas bird paper craft workshop-main image_Cabinet of Curiosity Studio
Christmas paper craft decorations workshop-main image_Cabinet of Curiosity Studio

On Saturday 2nd, 9th and 16th December 2023 Cabinet of Curiosity Studio are leading free workshops running 1.30pm – 3.30pm at Darlington Library as part of their Grow Your Own Creativity project. These free family friendly sessions are suitable for ages 6 years plus with all materials will be provided.  Funding for this project has been provided by Arts Council England and Creative Darlington. Find out more and book here.

Tees Women Poets bring three free writing workshops to Darlington Library running November to December with booking required

Creative Darlington is delighted to be backing Tees Women Poets multi year project running between 2023/24 and 2025/26 offering opportunities for those interested in creative writing in Tees Valley. The programme incorporates poetry sharing events (attended a great one at Middlesbrough Town Hall earlier this year), workshops and lots more. Great to see free opportunities for adults to explore creative writing and exercise the imagination at Darlington Library in the coming months with three free bookable workshops, involving different writers and addressing different aspects of creative writing, at Darlington Library in November and December 2023. Further information on each workshop below, just click on emboldened links below to book for one or more if you’re aged 16 years old or over and want to get involved. Early booking recommended as places limited.




Half term fun at The Friends Community Hub on Skinnergate on Tuesday 31 October, Thursday 2 November and Saturday 4 November 2023

We look forward to Cabinet of Curiosity Studio’s return to The Friends Community Hub in Darlington during half term week this October. As part of the Grow Your Own Creativity programme they’re offering three free family friendly drop in sessions for those aged 6 and above, and all materials provided. If you’ve not visited the Friends Community Hub on Skinnergate you can explore some of the fantastic things that happen there by clicking here.

Last year those participating in Cabinet of Curiosity Studio’s Autumn Almanac drop in days at The Friends Community Hub created some fantastic work, examples of which are shown below, so we’re delighted to welcome back and hope people will drop in again or for the first time, to create your own work. You can find out more about their practice by clicking here.

The Grow Your Own Creativity programme will offer sessions up to March 2024, in different locations across Darlington, including the Community Hub, Darlington Library and in the Education Room in South Park, where you may insects, birds, plants and squirrels for inspiration. Grow Your Own Creativity has been supported by Arts Council England and by Darlington Borough Council through the Heritage & Culture fund (Creative Darlington) budget.

New exhibition by Leanne Jackson opens in the gallery at Darlington Library on Saturday 4th November 2023

I Can’t Go On Loving These Songs, Leanne Jackson

A new exhibition by artist Leanne Jackson, intriguingly titled All that’s not shared will be lost, will be on display in the gallery at Darlington Library during standard opening times (except where events scheduled) from Saturday 4th November and Wednesday 13th December 2023. Alongside many artists and groups that were first programmed to exhibit in Darlington Library in 2020, Leanne has had to wait for several years to see their exhibitions go on public display in the recently reopened and beautifully restored space.

Grow For Me, Leanne Jackson

The exhibition shares work Leanne has produced over three years alongside a small number of works they’ve kindly selected from Darlington Borough Art Collection for display alongside their exhibition. Leanne employ techniques, including collage, to explore connections between imagery, creativity and memory.

To me this work seems serene, beguiling, intriguing and dynamic and to retain currency whilst incorporating material drawn from the past and All that’s not shared will be lost feels at home at a time when there’s so much visual information in that space between seeing and understanding, and also since as time passes, some things seem little changed.

I Don’t Really Know Now What I Thought I Knew Then, Leanne Jackson

Artists Statement: Leanne Jackson

I’ve never been particularly interested in big historical events. I am, however, interested in what an advert for Fairy looked like in 1942 or reading a critic’s review for The Everly Brothers’ debut record. My collection of magazines, books, knitting patterns and discarded photos from the 1930s-1960s provide an everyday window to another world, one that is just out of reach and one that I’ve been fascinated with from childhood.

I use as many clippings from my collection as I can in my work, repurposing images that would otherwise be lost, never to be seen again. Those magazines I can’t bare to cut are scanned and either printed or manipulated digitally, blending together the old with the new.

This exhibition pulls together 3 years of work. Exploring themes ranging from femininity, and relationships to loneliness and ageing.

Everything seems so familiar, yet different.

More of Leanne’s work can be seen on Instagram @almamatterscollages

Time to make a visit to newly opened Changes Gallery & Gifts on Skinngergate in Darlington

It was great to see so many creative people gather to celebrate the opening of Changes Gallery & Gifts near to the Friends Meeting House on Skinnergate in Darlington on Sunday 1st October 2023. I met with Helen from Darlington Friends and Wildlife Artist, Diane Patterson, in September to hear more about plans to open a new creative enterprise in Darlington, and its great to see these realized.

Changes Gallery & Gifts is currently showcasing work of many different types, paintings, furniture, glass, prints, textiles, with limited edition runs, mugs, coasters and cards alongside original works in different styles currently on view and for sale.

There’s a range of fantastic creative work on display at different prices, and I understand, as befits its name, Changes Gallery & Gifts plan to share the work of new creatives on a regular basis, so I’ll certainly be popping into their space in Darlington again.

Thanks to Helen from Darlington Friends for the images above.

Exciting apprenticeship training opportunity in curation offered by Teesside University – please note there is a closing date of 17 November 2023 for applications to the cohort starting in January 2024

Teesside University are now recruiting for the fourth cohort of what is England’s first and only Curating apprenticeship, which also awards a master’s degree. They currently have existing staff upskilling as apprentices from all over the country with organisations including National Trust, HOME Manchester, British Ceramics Biennial, Teesside Archives, Durham County Council, Barnsley Council, Turner Contemporary and P21 Gallery, London, Tate Modern and Tate Britain. It’s a really good networking opportunity too.

Teesside University have over 30 apprentices at a range of levels on programme since their launch in September 2022, also joined by home and international students on their standard route master’s course for in person intensive weeks in Middlesbrough at the beginning of each module. Apprentices then combine self-directed study with small, regular  ( bi weekly) online seminar groups as part of their off-the-job learning. Drawing on MIMA, the course covers the advanced practical and intellectual requirements of a curator in any field including collections, commissioning, interpretation, engagement, project management and critical theoretical contexts.

To find out more and register their interest for this apprenticeship, it’s best to contact a member of the Professional Apprenticeships Department at

For specific queries their next series of info sessions are available to book here

  • 10th October (11am – 12pm)
  • 24th October (11am – 12pm)
  • 8th November (11am – 12pm)
  • 22nd November (11am – 12pm)

The deadline is 17th November 2023 to apply for the January 2024 cohort start (course starts Thu 25 Jan, first intensive week is Mon 5 – Fri 9 Feb). 

The course is open to those working in England, and is taught in intensive weeks and online to enable this. MA Curating (Curator Apprenticeship) is led by Prof Sarah Perks and Dr Paul Stewart with George Vasey and a dedicated team of Associate Lecturers at MIMA/School of Arts and Creative Industries, Teesside University. Government apprenticeship information is here, do you can see this might be upskilling existing staff or they can even incorporate into a new position.

Saturday 14th October – BIG Little Gigs Black History Month Special, featuring Kay Greyson, 2pm-3pm at Darlington Library with limited free tickets available!

BIG Little Gigs return to the beautifully refurbished Darlington Library on Crown Street for a very special family gig celebrating Black History Month. On Saturday 14th October 2023, Newcastle’s groundbreaking rap artist Kay Greyson will be performing. Kay, who has been rapping and performing since she was a teenager, returns to BIG Little Gigs after a memorable show back in 2020, and she has been busy! The last few years have seen her winning a Culture Award, performing at the Royal Albert Hall, playing to packed-out festival crowds at Hit The North Music Festival, and gaining national airplay from Radio 1’s Jack Saunders and Amazing Radio.

Tickets for this event are free and available from Skiddle. Tickets are very limited for this, so please book early to avoid disappointment.