Arts groups forced to leave Darlington to find exhibition space

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.

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.

Comments (6)

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5:37pm Fri 22 Feb 13

Spy Boy says...

This is going to be a problem for years. The old Arts Centre is supposedly up for sale still and the money from that sale could be used to convert some other old building in Darlington that would fit the bill. The Bridge is far too small, but there was nothing else on offer from the council. They just jumped and closed the old place with no firm plan for something new, or usable for short or long term use.
This is going to be a problem for years. The old Arts Centre is supposedly up for sale still and the money from that sale could be used to convert some other old building in Darlington that would fit the bill. The Bridge is far too small, but there was nothing else on offer from the council. They just jumped and closed the old place with no firm plan for something new, or usable for short or long term use. Spy Boy
  • Score: 3

9:35am Sat 23 Feb 13

Ian Bennett says...

There are plenty of empty shops in Darlington; why don't they rent one of those? It seems that what they really want is "exhibition and performance space" paid for by other people. Perhaps Sara Macintosh could explain why her leisure activities should be funded by ratepayers.
There are plenty of empty shops in Darlington; why don't they rent one of those? It seems that what they really want is "exhibition and performance space" paid for by other people. Perhaps Sara Macintosh could explain why her leisure activities should be funded by ratepayers. Ian Bennett
  • Score: -1

6:38pm Sat 23 Feb 13

gary123 says...

The old rileys building is up for sale cheap, and theres a load of style hidden behind that awful aluminium frontage, why not do what they have done in evesham and restore it as multi-purpose venue. That would be something very unique to our town.
The old rileys building is up for sale cheap, and theres a load of style hidden behind that awful aluminium frontage, why not do what they have done in evesham and restore it as multi-purpose venue. That would be something very unique to our town. gary123
  • Score: 1

7:05pm Sat 23 Feb 13

Spy Boy says...

The empty shops idea is actually very good. It would allow the shops used to look a lot better than the empty eyesores they currently are. If they belong to the council that should make it a lot easier. Darlington are given a grant every year from the Arts Council, so ratepayers shouldn't be pestered to pay for stuff they don't use. I still don't see why "The Arts" can't generate some of it's own income. Profit is not always a dirty word.

The merits of the Odeon ( Rileys ) are overshadowed by the need for a large amount of investment to bring it up to standard.

These events currently rely on volunteers to keep them open. Darlington for Culture need more volunteers and people interested in aspects of "The Arts." Interested ?
The empty shops idea is actually very good. It would allow the shops used to look a lot better than the empty eyesores they currently are. If they belong to the council that should make it a lot easier. Darlington are given a grant every year from the Arts Council, so ratepayers shouldn't be pestered to pay for stuff they don't use. I still don't see why "The Arts" can't generate some of it's own income. Profit is not always a dirty word. The merits of the Odeon ( Rileys ) are overshadowed by the need for a large amount of investment to bring it up to standard. These events currently rely on volunteers to keep them open. Darlington for Culture need more volunteers and people interested in aspects of "The Arts." Interested ? Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

10:20pm Sat 23 Feb 13

Ian Bennett says...

Spy Boy, "The Arts", in the way the term is generally used, can't generate its own income because the people who want it to happen are not prepared to pay for it themselves. That's why the Arts Council - which is where "Darlington for Culture" gets some of its money - exists; it's a way to force taxpayers to fund "art".
Spy Boy, "The Arts", in the way the term is generally used, can't generate its own income because the people who want it to happen are not prepared to pay for it themselves. That's why the Arts Council - which is where "Darlington for Culture" gets some of its money - exists; it's a way to force taxpayers to fund "art". Ian Bennett
  • Score: 0

5:13pm Sun 24 Feb 13

Spy Boy says...

Tax payers rather than ratepayers. It should be funded from the lottery rather than Camelot stuffing rich shareholders pockets. The Arts should be for everyone and there should be something for everyone, in the Arts.
Tax payers rather than ratepayers. It should be funded from the lottery rather than Camelot stuffing rich shareholders pockets. The Arts should be for everyone and there should be something for everyone, in the Arts. Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

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