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Culture group's hopes for future of former arts centre
A GROUP that fought unsuccessfully to save a popular arts centre from closure says it hopes the building will be spared possible demolition.
The former Darlington arts centre building is being sold by Darlington Borough Council, which says it will consider allowing a developer to demolish the 19th Century red-brick building.
Darlington for Culture (DfC) campaigned against the closure of the arts centre, which shut in 2012 as a result of council spending cuts.
DfC chairman John Dean said: “We would like to see this wonderful building retained, it is a place our members hold dear.
“It is in the hands of the developers and the council, but we would like to see at least some part of the building retained.
“The building is pretty run-down, it has been disused for more than a year.
“But it is an absolutely stunning building, with a wonderful façade and we would like to think that it at least could be kept, because it adds something to the area.
“But a developer may have their own views.”
Mr Dean said DfC was disappointed that the proposed Project Vane, which would have secured the building’s future, had fallen flat.
Project Vane sought to convert the building into a combined hotel and arts venue, but foundered last summer after it failed to secure Arts Council funding.
Mr Dean added: “We had hoped that Project Vane would be successful.
“From our point of view, we have never budged from the fact that we think closure of the arts centre was the wrong thing to do.
“One of the most important things is the pledge from the council that the money from the sale of the building will go back into the arts in Darlington, which has been hit pretty heavily.
“It is important to put something back.”
Since the arts centre closed, members of Darlington’s creative community have been determined that the arts scene continues to thrive.
Their efforts have been helped by the opening of the Bridge Centre for Visual Arts in a former pupil referral unit on the corner of Hundens Lane and Yarm Road.
The inaugural DfC-organised Darlington Arts Festival was a big success last year, with preparations underway for this year’s event, in April and May.
For more information, visit darlingtonforculture.org
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