Youth theatre project to benefit from arts centre sale cash

The Northern Echo: NO MORE: The former Darlington Arts Centre NO MORE: The former Darlington Arts Centre

PROFITS from the proposed sale of a former arts centre will be put towards the creation of a £1.5m ‘national flagship’ theatre for children.

Darlington Arts Centre closed last year, having fallen victim to local authority spending cuts.

At a meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet on Tuesday (December 3), members agreed to ring-fence £600,000 from the eventual sale of the 19th Century former arts centre for the ambitious youth theatre project.

The project is conditional on a successful bid for Arts Council cash, with the cash-strapped council unable to offer funding beyond the agreed six-figure contribution.

Darlington-based children’s theatre company Theatre Hullaballo will bid for Arts Council support for the youth theatre, which would be built on a site adjacent to the existing Darlington Civic Theatre.

Councillor Nick Wallis, cabinet member for leisure, is excited about the proposals, which he said could help create a ‘cultural quarter’ for Darlington.

He said: “The Theatre Hullaballoo proposals could potentially attract significant capital into Darlington, with what would be a national flagship theatre for children.

“What we are beginning to see, from the very regrettable closure of the Arts Centre, are some very encouraging developments in the arts in Darlington."

Coun Wallis said there was a 'copper-bottomed, gold-plated guarantee' from the council, regarding profits from the sale of the arts centre.

Theatre Hullaballoo, the only Darlington-based organisation within the Arts Council’s national portfolio, currently has office space within the town, but no dedicated area for rehearsals and performance.

A decision on whether the Arts Council will support the project is not expected to be made until July next year.

Coun Wallis added: “Officers are working hard, with Theatre Hullaballoo, to get the best possible facility in place.

“There will be no further call on the council’s budget if the project goes ahead.

“The pieces are in place, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“A lot of the decisions are out of our control, but I believe this is a very exciting prospect for Darlington and we will continue to work hard to ensure that it is realised.”

The council decided to put the former Arts Centre building up for sale, after plans the failure of plans to turn it into a boutique hotel, with business units and a restaurant.

Council leader Bill Dixon said he expects the sale of the building to be completed next year, with formal tenders having been invited from interested parties.

Comments (4)

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7:24am Wed 4 Dec 13

Darloresident says...

Interesting comments by Mr Wallis about a "cultural quarter" for Darlington...
I thought that was the Arts Centre...
I must try harder to understand the Council rationale..
A perfectly good and reputable Arts Centre is closed and sold so another one can be built with 600 grand from the sales proceeds.
Then all the people who left the original centre are to be tempted back into the new building..
Why not just leave the old Arts centre open??
Am I missing something..
Interesting comments by Mr Wallis about a "cultural quarter" for Darlington... I thought that was the Arts Centre... I must try harder to understand the Council rationale.. A perfectly good and reputable Arts Centre is closed and sold so another one can be built with 600 grand from the sales proceeds. Then all the people who left the original centre are to be tempted back into the new building.. Why not just leave the old Arts centre open?? Am I missing something.. Darloresident

10:52am Wed 4 Dec 13

Luther95 says...

It was a good and well-loved building, but unfortunately cost a fortune to run. DBC's rationale for building a children's theatre is set out in the Cabinet papers on its website - Item 10 refers http://www.darlingto
n.gov.uk/democracy/d
emocraticinvolvement
/politicalmanagement
/Meeting.htm?id=1577

The new facility (if the Arts Council are prepared to support it) will cost the Council a fraction in running costs compared with the old Arts Centre - the fact that it will be physically next to the Civic should assist. Its use will be shared between Theatre Hullaballoo and community/arts groups.
It was a good and well-loved building, but unfortunately cost a fortune to run. DBC's rationale for building a children's theatre is set out in the Cabinet papers on its website - Item 10 refers http://www.darlingto n.gov.uk/democracy/d emocraticinvolvement /politicalmanagement /Meeting.htm?id=1577 The new facility (if the Arts Council are prepared to support it) will cost the Council a fraction in running costs compared with the old Arts Centre - the fact that it will be physically next to the Civic should assist. Its use will be shared between Theatre Hullaballoo and community/arts groups. Luther95

12:23pm Wed 4 Dec 13

loan_star says...

I hope they costed this new scheme out better than the previous schemes they have landed the town with!
I hope they costed this new scheme out better than the previous schemes they have landed the town with! loan_star

7:15pm Wed 4 Dec 13

Spy Boy says...

The old building was expensive to run and heat. The building is now in a sorry state as it has been run down by the council as they know that the site is worth more than the building.

In consultation over the last few years on this very subject the council have continuously pushed a Youth Theatre 'For the youth of Darlington.) as an option. In the first meeting this option was kicked out. In the next meeting it was back in the Powerpoint presentation. Again it was voted out in favour of a small theatre / Arts Hub that would cater for all. It included Hullabaloo in this proposal, as they are a nationally known theatre company. Then there was another meeting earlier this year. Guess what ? Yes, the Youth Theatre was again one of the options. In fact it was in 3 of the 5 options. Again it was kicked out. Councillor Wallis was there and it was raised that this option had now been booted out at least 3 times. It was proposed that Hullabaloo would still be a major part of any new theatre, but we still need a small theatre for everyone. The comments made by the council team were about it being a youth theatre, though they may allow other events on the premises. This means that anyone not in their teens would have to go cap in hand to try an get some theatre time. This is not on. In all the meetings that I have attended the youth of our town have been absent. If they can't be bothered to do something off their own bats, why do we have to keep pandering to them. If they don't work for something they will never respect it. I'm actually quite fed up with pandering to the self absorbed youth of this town. There are some that are a little more motivated and talented, but the rest are incapable, or simply too lazy to do anything for themselves and want the rest of us to put it all on a plate for them. The council seem to be bending over backwards to give them everything, whether they want it or not.

A small theatre is needed and it's needed for everyone in this town. The above little tale shows just how this council manipulates the voters. They make up their own minds and, even when people vote out their proposals three times, they still go ahead regardless. They have not listened to any one of the other proposals, even when they were on their own powerpoint slides. Why did they ever bother including them ? This council is SICK.
The old building was expensive to run and heat. The building is now in a sorry state as it has been run down by the council as they know that the site is worth more than the building. In consultation over the last few years on this very subject the council have continuously pushed a Youth Theatre 'For the youth of Darlington.) as an option. In the first meeting this option was kicked out. In the next meeting it was back in the Powerpoint presentation. Again it was voted out in favour of a small theatre / Arts Hub that would cater for all. It included Hullabaloo in this proposal, as they are a nationally known theatre company. Then there was another meeting earlier this year. Guess what ? Yes, the Youth Theatre was again one of the options. In fact it was in 3 of the 5 options. Again it was kicked out. Councillor Wallis was there and it was raised that this option had now been booted out at least 3 times. It was proposed that Hullabaloo would still be a major part of any new theatre, but we still need a small theatre for everyone. The comments made by the council team were about it being a youth theatre, though they may allow other events on the premises. This means that anyone not in their teens would have to go cap in hand to try an get some theatre time. This is not on. In all the meetings that I have attended the youth of our town have been absent. If they can't be bothered to do something off their own bats, why do we have to keep pandering to them. If they don't work for something they will never respect it. I'm actually quite fed up with pandering to the self absorbed youth of this town. There are some that are a little more motivated and talented, but the rest are incapable, or simply too lazy to do anything for themselves and want the rest of us to put it all on a plate for them. The council seem to be bending over backwards to give them everything, whether they want it or not. A small theatre is needed and it's needed for everyone in this town. The above little tale shows just how this council manipulates the voters. They make up their own minds and, even when people vote out their proposals three times, they still go ahead regardless. They have not listened to any one of the other proposals, even when they were on their own powerpoint slides. Why did they ever bother including them ? This council is SICK. Spy Boy

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