A GROUP of Darlington artists have been forced to look outside the town for a venue for their annual exhibition, citing a lack of suitable space.

Members of the Bridge Artists have called on Darlington Borough Council to find or create a suitable space for the arts within the town centre amid after the closure of the Darlington Arts Centre scattered arts groups to venues across the town.

The Bridge Artists, who meet at the Bridge Centre for Visual Arts, in Hundens Lane, Darlington, are holding a mixed exhibition at The Station, in Richmond, from tomorrow (Saturday, February 23) until March 7.

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The group said it had been left with no option but to exhibit work outside Darlington because of a lack of exhibition and performance space in the town centre.

A council spokeswoman said the authority had worked hard to support the arts in Darlington since the closure of the arts centre and was supporting the development of sustainable facilities.

Sara Macintosh, a member of the 60-strong group, said the Bridge, which opened last year to take up some of the slack left by the arts centre closure, is already ‘bursting at the seams’.

She said: “There is still a need for a decent-sized venue for visual arts in Darlington, despite the council feeling the fact we have found somewhere else to meet is sufficient evidence to doubt the need for another arts centre.

“The Bridge centre is beginning to burst at the seam. The council seems to think that because we’ve spread ourselves across the town that we don’t need a central space but that is what we do need.

“A decent focal point would be a tremendous asset for a town the size of Darlington.”

A council spokeswoman said: “While the council does not have resources to enable Darlington based artists to exhibit wherever they wish, we are delighted that artists are taking the initiative and developing their own practice.

“We are supporting the development of sustainable facilities where people can develop their arts practice and exhibit their work within Darlington and encouraging the development of networking between artists.”

The spokeswoman also noted that the Crown Street Art Gallery, opened in 2012 within the town’s central library, has attracted 30,000 visitors to eight exhibitions.