NARC. TV launch imminent

NARC. TV is launching Thursday 5th November at 7pm, with performances and interviews from Ceiling Demons, Girl From Winter Jargon, bigfatbig, Mt. Misery, Wax Heart Sodality, Shakk & Eyeconic, Marketplace, Plastic Glass, The Dead Seat and Faye Fantarrow’. Creative Darlington was delighted to back some filming of a number of bands and artists at The Forum Music Centre earlier this year.

Music lifts the spirits and can help you feel connected even in troubling times.  Music venues, including The Forum in Darlington, play a massive part in connecting artists with music fans and Creative Darlington was delighted to back the NARC TV programme, which we hope will help keep them in the public eye.  We offer thanks to NARC., Tees Music Alliance, all those who shared their work, the film-makers who captured it and the Northern music venues in which performances and filming took place for safely bringing a fabulous array of today’s music to the screen. 

Here’s to NARC. TV helping music fans stay connected with the output of artists and bands and sharing the ongoing practice of those in the music sector who brighten so many lives.

The Workhouse Sessions – blogs aplenty

Alan Rees from The Workshouse Sessions

The workhouse sessions is a podcast and a DJ service performing at local events, venues and festivals run by DJ Alan Rees, pictured above. It is focused on building a platform to benefit the guest DJ’s that perform on the podcast and at events they perform at, in collaboration with local venues and businesses.

They have produced 117 podcasts over the last 5 years with highlights including interviews with Roger Sanchez, K-Klass, Jeremy Healy, Bez (from the Happy Mondays) and Mark Doyle, associated with the Hed Kandi brand.

The Workhouse Sessions have performed at local festivals including the Remedy House music event in Newton Aycliffe, The Mighty Dub Fest in Alnwick and The Darlington Food and Drink festival. In Darlington they have regularly worked with Darlington Borough Council and the Darlington Markets team to provide live DJ performances at local events.

The Workshouse Sessions recently secured a small arts grant from Darlington for Culture and support from Creative Darlington to produce a series of 5 “pandemic podcasts”. Each podcast featured a guest DJ and focussed on how Covid 19 had affected them personally and from a business point of view. Here is the link to the first of these podcasts , a chance to hear more about what’s working for DJ’s.

Hark! – The Sound of Stories, another fantastic concoction

Creative Darlington was delighted to back the first Hark! The Sound of Stories event on 22 November 2019, which was held in Darlington Library, and presented a scintillating combination of live music and readings. There was a really appreciative audience and brilliant performances from artists, bands and readings from authors, a really special vibe.

Hark! The firs iteration at Darlington Library, 22 November 2020

Hark! was conceived by Tracks and in 2020 and we offered them support to develop the Hark! online programme, parts of which can be viewed here on either Facebook or Youtube. Whilst the first event was less than a year ago, so much has changed since then with the pandemic, but the creativity and can do/want to do/must do (I’m not sure which, you’d have to ask them, but glad they did) spirit of Tracks has ensured the creative wagon rolled on. Faced by the challenges of organizing activity safely this year Tracks embraced technology whilst applying their expected programming pizzazz and working through networks to bring together a brilliant bill for the Hark! The Sound Of Stories (Help The Witch) event, which offered a wonderful platform for regional and art form cross collaboration.

This year’s fantastic Hark! programme

The event was first available on the evening of Sunday 11 October 2020, and followed an online writing workshop that afternoon, which was wonderfully well received by eight participants. Artists performed in the second Hark! remotely from London, Bedford, North Wales, Devon and Darlington.

Audiences and participants were able to engage with an event born in Darlington from far afield and in significant numbers, with 835 video views and lots of positive comments of the film to date.

Thanks to Tracks and all the artists involved, it appears it takes an awful lot to derail their creative spirit. I’m looking forward to the next chapter!

Hot Contents

CCreative Darlington has allocated support to artist Matthew Pickering to progress a proposal which will consider current environmental concerns.

Hot Contents will take place in Darlington, imagining the role of new trades in a not-too-distant future where the over-production of unrecyclable waste materials has dramatically changed our landscape, reimagining Darlington’s history as a hub of crafts and trades built instead on recycled industrial materials.

Through a process of research, production, presentation and critical discussion exploring the life-cycle of the materials of industry, it asks:

  • How can we creatively imagine ways to reduce environmental pollution and learn to live better with the waste we create?
  • How do we re-examine industrial heritage narratives in environmental discussion?
  • In what ways can we feed in a circular economy approach to our lives?
  • What practices do we need to learn, and what do we need to unlearn?

While it touches on the many interconnected issues that are feeding climate change, Hot Contents look at pollution as a wider metaphor for living with the environmental crisis we have created for ourselves.

A trace – physically and emotionally – of what will be left for the future.


Theatre Hullabaloo, the children’s arts charity based in The Hullabaloo on Borough Road, Darlington have created baby play packs for families and babies in Darlington and in other parts of Tees Valley to play together.

The free Hullabaloo Baby Play Packs aimed at babies 12 months and under have been created with support from Darlington Borough Council, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, Middlesbrough Council and Public Health South Tees. Creative Darlington budget will enable many families in Darlington to get a pack in the near future if they haven’t already.

Miranda Thain, CEO at Theatre Hullabaloo says “We have really missed meeting the new babies who would usually be visiting us to play at The Hullabaloo. The COVID-19 restrictions mean that it’s been really challenging for those parents and carers unable to attend baby groups and classes. We hope that these Hullabaloo Baby Play Packs will allow parents and carers of new babies to enjoy some creative play time together at home”

“Play really is the work of babies as they are busy learning about the world, developing new skills every day. We hope these packs will mean that parents and carers will feel more confident about the how and why of play and we look forward to welcoming these lockdown babies to play at The Hullabaloo when it’s safe to do so again”

Packs include a mixture of creative toys and props and a Playbook packed with ideas for how to play creatively with your baby. They are accompanied by a series of short videos filmed by some of the artists who work regularly with Theatre Hullabaloo. Each film gives a short creative idea for how to use the items in the packs at home.

Elizabeth Archer, Service Manager, 0-19 Growing Healthy Service, Darlington says “We are delighted to be working with Theatre Hullabaloo and Creative Darlington to bring this creative offer to families with newborn babies across the borough and we hope that everyone will enjoy the emotional and developmental benefits of playing together.”

Baby Play Packs are being distributed across Darlington by local health visitors and families do not need to order a play pack as these are being distributed automatically by health visitors at pre-arranged appointments.

Listen up for five new Workhouse Sessions beginning 2 October 2020

Creative Darlington and a business have supported Darlington for Culture’s fantastic small arts grants scheme, which offers grants of up to £500 to successful programmes delivered hereabouts. The scheme has supported a broad variety of activity to date and is currently open to new proposals.

Not so long back DJ Alan Rees – The Workhouse Sessions applied to support the costs of creating 5 new podcasts featuring guest DJs. The Workhouse Sessions are a group of local DJ’s who create a podcast to promote local DJ’s and music producers, and also DJ at local events including some of those at Darlington Market, Hash Bar and Walworth Castle.

It’s great to see their ambition shine through at a time which must be particularly challenging for many DJs. I can’t profess any particular expertise in this area (flashback to playing LPs at 78 RPM), but there appears to me to be a lot of art, skill, application, knowledge, experience (and magic) in a DJs practice.

I’m delighted Creative Darlington and Darlington for Culture are backing The Workshouse Sessions in creating 5 new podcasts and understand the DJs lined up are expected to be:

Carl Douthwaite – Mobile DJ, Darlington

Chris Ryan / Paul Stoker – Avalon, Darlington

Mike Stead – DJ / Phase One DJ Store, Darlington

Andy Lee – Remedy Festival DJ / Promoter and Producer, Newton Aycliffe

Smoove – DJ and member of NE band Smoove and Turrell

The podcasts will start on Friday 2nd October and will follow on every 2 weeks. They will be posted on Soundcloud and iTunes podcast, they will also be promoted on The Workhouse Sessions Facebook and Instagram pages.

Darlington Wonders ….

Banner produced during Trace Lines programme led by Adrian Moule

Since starting in the Creative Darlington role on a fairly frequent basis I’ve discovered more about wonderful people who’ve lived here, and been inspired by those who are living or have had some connection with this place today.  I’ve also found out more about how the built and natural environment has or hasn’t changed.

Darlington Library
Photograph of early 20th century watercolor kindly donated to the Borough Art Collection

It’s been great to work with artists, producers, companies and organisations and find out more about the place where I was born and grew up. From campaigning Quaker women, philanthropic publishers, admirable artists, selfless pilots, there are a plethora of positive people and places to laud.

#NowThen Darlo cwork up/down Post House Wynd by Paul Theo Murray

As part of a new programme, Darlington Wonders …. Creative Darlington has recently asked a selection of artists living here to create new work, inspired by things, people or locations in Darlington past or present that they think are wonderful. We’ll be working with Lighting Cameraman, Jason Berge to share their work online in the coming months so watch this space if you’re interested in seeing what they create.

Jason’s lived in Darlington for around a decade having moved from Australia, and has played a part in some fantastic film projects while working with Darlington Media Group, including this poetry patchwork quilt of films incorporating Tell Her Story poetry created by Vane Women.

We’ll also be making a public call out asking you to get involved and share what/who/where you’ve found wondrous/wonder in this place and looking to share what comes back through an exhibition in the coming months or online, wherever works best in the current climate. People who agree to get involved will be entered into a competition (one entry to be drawn from a hat and offered a reward in Darlington).

  • Lisette Auton – Writer, Performer and Creative Practitioner
  • Jason Berge – Lighting Cameraman
  • Syd Collumbine, Musician, who will be working with a Roger Wicks Songwriter (who I understand played in midfield for Darlington Football Club for a time back in the day, so I may have seen him with my dearly departed dad, let’s hope ‘their song for Darlo’ is a winner)
  • Mike Jarvie – Writer, who I understand may be celebrating a particular building
  • Rosi Thorton – textiles artist, who I understand may be celebrating a particular outdoor area in Town

We look forward to seeing their and your Darlington Wonders …. in the near future and hope you’ll answer the call out to ‘celebrate good things (here), come on’.

#Now Then Darlo … the chalk lingers on

A short while ago Creative Darlington offered some support to artist, curator, explorer Paul Theo Murray to research a proposal for a programme of guerilla graffiti interventions in Darlington Town Centre betwixt July 2020 and beyond. The programme quickly secured media attention, including within The Northern Echo.

Various locations and themes have been explored, stencils, spray chalk and the magical ingredient of imagination were applied and the British summer played its part in the artworks journey.

The overall campaign has been co-ordinated and backed by Darlington Borough Council events service and promoted within the #LoveDarlo campaign.

Its been a pleasure to see a modest investment in the time of an artist we wanted to work with to research an idea, rather than invest their time at risk, bring a fully beautiful programme to fruition.

Unforgettable Experiences: Call Out

Unforgettable Experiences have put out a call out for service providers to work on a pilot programme they are leading, and Creative Darlington has offered budget to part support the fees of artists selected to work on the pilot programme and some preparation time.

We understand those selected will be paid at Artists Union rates, the programme will be delivered digitally. People who can devise and deliver programmes to engage adults living with dementia and neurological conditions, their loved ones and carers, through a programme of 12 x 1-hour sessions delivered weekly over a 12-week period are sought. 

All interested in applying are asked to read the Unforgettable Experiences brief and submit a proposal in response to Emma Hamlett at by no later than 5pm on Monday 7 September 2020. Please contact Emma if you have any questions regarding this opportunity.

Creative Darlington is delighted to be backing this pilot programme and we hope there’ll be lots of interest.

Congratulations and celebrations, Cornerstone Arts opens over August Bank Holiday weekend

Cornerstone Arts opening – Friday 28 August 2020

On Friday 28 August 2020 I had the opportunity to explore Cornerstone Arts which was open for much of the following Bank Holiday weekend, sharing exhibitions, film screenings, comfy couches and elements of the unexpected (nice to find out more about the Vikings through a chat with a re-enactor). Cornerstone provided an opportunity to meet people and appreciate the creativity and community of Darlington.

The venue offers artists an opportunity to share their work and ideas onto both the high street and also within a space which felt a little like an indoor park in scale, with opportunity to walk about and explore work by artists who were both known and unknown to me.

I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next and wanted to pass on my thanks to everyone whose made this happen, and wishing Cornerstone Arts success in achieving further ambitions.