Darlington for Culture mourns planned closure of town's Arts Centre, but vows to fight on

Supporters of The Arts Centre protest outside the Dolphin Centre where a meeting was taking place to discuss its closure last night.

Supporters of The Arts Centre protest outside the Dolphin Centre where a meeting was taking place to discuss its closure last night.

First published in Darlington Borough Council News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Darlington's Arts Centre from closure say they are deeply saddened that the plans look set to go ahead.

Darlington for Culture (DfC) was set up in 2010 to support arts in the town.

The organisation, a Community Benefit Society, is now asking people to contact their local councillor and urge them to vote against the plans when the full council meets to ratify the budget on March 1.

Nick Brewster, chair of DfC, said last night: ”We urge anyone who has ever laughed or danced or sang or cried or smiled in the Arts Centre to contact their local councillor to ask them whether they will be voting to close or save this extraordinary building.

"It does look like this is the end of the line for the Arts Centre but we feel that with imagination, scaled down activities and a plan for development it really does not need to be.

“DfC reassert, as we have been doing for well over a year, that we are ready, willing and able to work with the Council to find a viable way forward for the Arts Centre. We need one big push to persuade Darlington councillors that this is the right thing to do.”

Mr Brewster said DfC had "left no stone unturned" in its quest to save the centre and had, among other things, spent weeks developing a business plan that showed how the centre could be sustainable and attended council consultation meetings.

"Despite all of this effort by DfC the (council) cabinet has voted to condemn the Arts Centre to closure," he said.

Comments (10)

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7:23am Thu 23 Feb 12

John Justice says...

The Arts Centre is a veritable "Jewel in the Crown" and it is a tragedy that it is likely to close. It is the place where I have introduced two of my grandchildren to the theatre in a gentle, intimate and enjoyable way that left them wanting more. For me, attending shows is a great way to spend an evening or lunchtime at a very reasonable price. I am shortly going to see "Dr Phill" which will be my 4th visit since December. Not only will I lose the opportunity to see great shows, so will my grandchildren and my family. Just as important will be the impact on a lot of performers who will find it more difficult to find venues to perform their arts. I am a Darlo lad living outside the town but please feel free to use my comments to help your cause to keep this gem open.
The Arts Centre is a veritable "Jewel in the Crown" and it is a tragedy that it is likely to close. It is the place where I have introduced two of my grandchildren to the theatre in a gentle, intimate and enjoyable way that left them wanting more. For me, attending shows is a great way to spend an evening or lunchtime at a very reasonable price. I am shortly going to see "Dr Phill" which will be my 4th visit since December. Not only will I lose the opportunity to see great shows, so will my grandchildren and my family. Just as important will be the impact on a lot of performers who will find it more difficult to find venues to perform their arts. I am a Darlo lad living outside the town but please feel free to use my comments to help your cause to keep this gem open. John Justice
  • Score: 0

8:56am Thu 23 Feb 12

gums says...

The Arts centre closing is a shame, but would it be closing if it was properly supported. The town will get the amenities it is willing to support. Like the football club clearly not enough people in the town care enough to support it.

Speaking of the football club, there is plenty of spare space every night of the week at the stadium and whilst it's not got the same character or history as the arts centre it could be home to many of the activities which currently take place at the Arts centre.

It would be a step towards integrating the community further into a football club that will be owned by the local community and could actually start to get some regular use from a facility that whilst clearly too big for the club can still be used as a fantastic venue for the town.
The Arts centre closing is a shame, but would it be closing if it was properly supported. The town will get the amenities it is willing to support. Like the football club clearly not enough people in the town care enough to support it. Speaking of the football club, there is plenty of spare space every night of the week at the stadium and whilst it's not got the same character or history as the arts centre it could be home to many of the activities which currently take place at the Arts centre. It would be a step towards integrating the community further into a football club that will be owned by the local community and could actually start to get some regular use from a facility that whilst clearly too big for the club can still be used as a fantastic venue for the town. gums
  • Score: 0

9:16am Thu 23 Feb 12

sandrocchia says...

I was at the protest last night outside of the Dolphin Centre and attended the council meeting. I cannot express my sadness at the closure of the Arts Centre, but I have to ask the question why was so much money spent on revamping the Arts Centre inside and out for it to now close
I was at the protest last night outside of the Dolphin Centre and attended the council meeting. I cannot express my sadness at the closure of the Arts Centre, but I have to ask the question why was so much money spent on revamping the Arts Centre inside and out for it to now close sandrocchia
  • Score: 0

9:20am Thu 23 Feb 12

princebishop1 says...

This is a terrible decision. I have lived abroad now for many years, as a University teacher, but I was an early member of the Arts Centre in 1980. It was a real treasure in the town, not only for exhibitions and appearances, but as a learning centre-I developed many graphic skills with tuition by the then Artist in Residence, Mr Paul Dillon. I agree also that it was an invaluable asset to introduce children to the 'arts' a great need in the changing times of England. DfC are doing a remarkable job in difficult circumstances I would willingly add my voice to condemn any closure, unfortunately I shall not return until next year. I hope there may be a positive solution.
This is a terrible decision. I have lived abroad now for many years, as a University teacher, but I was an early member of the Arts Centre in 1980. It was a real treasure in the town, not only for exhibitions and appearances, but as a learning centre-I developed many graphic skills with tuition by the then Artist in Residence, Mr Paul Dillon. I agree also that it was an invaluable asset to introduce children to the 'arts' a great need in the changing times of England. DfC are doing a remarkable job in difficult circumstances I would willingly add my voice to condemn any closure, unfortunately I shall not return until next year. I hope there may be a positive solution. princebishop1
  • Score: 0

5:45pm Thu 23 Feb 12

Cypress says...

A subsidy of half a million pounds a year, for a venue that is not used by the vast majority of the people of Darlington, but in truth, a very small minority, withdrawal of the subsidy and closure was inevitable, given the current financial situation. I would also suggest that any replacement has to be a great deal more self sustaining and be able to attract a far wider cross section of the community than the current centre ever has.
A subsidy of half a million pounds a year, for a venue that is not used by the vast majority of the people of Darlington, but in truth, a very small minority, withdrawal of the subsidy and closure was inevitable, given the current financial situation. I would also suggest that any replacement has to be a great deal more self sustaining and be able to attract a far wider cross section of the community than the current centre ever has. Cypress
  • Score: 0

5:45pm Thu 23 Feb 12

Cypress says...

A subsidy of half a million pounds a year, for a venue that is not used by the vast majority of the people of Darlington, but in truth, a very small minority, withdrawal of the subsidy and closure was inevitable, given the current financial situation. I would also suggest that any replacement has to be a great deal more self sustaining and be able to attract a far wider cross section of the community than the current centre ever has.
A subsidy of half a million pounds a year, for a venue that is not used by the vast majority of the people of Darlington, but in truth, a very small minority, withdrawal of the subsidy and closure was inevitable, given the current financial situation. I would also suggest that any replacement has to be a great deal more self sustaining and be able to attract a far wider cross section of the community than the current centre ever has. Cypress
  • Score: 0

7:11pm Thu 23 Feb 12

Spy Boy says...

It's not even half a million. This is some strange figure that the council have come up with. Time after time it has been challenged and time after time the council have failed to respond, even in open meetings. The actual figure is much less and when you look at the difference between the cost of a new building and keeping the old one open, it makes no sense at all.

All the ratepayers of Darlington will pay for the new building, so where is the logic ? It would seem that the council have a hidden agenda here. Maybe the one that looks like they are selling off every bit of land they own that is suitable for housing, regardless of what is currently on the site. The existing buildings have to be replaced and we pay the bill. Maybe the people of Darlington should look at the real costs being incurred on their behalf. There is something very sick in this town. It's not the place it was.

Bill Dixon said last night that it was not the best job he'd ever had, but someone had to do it. If you can't stand the heat, Bill, you know what to do.

We were also shown a Pie Chart of costs. Oddly enough, I didn't see any figures for wages or expenses on the chart, though someone did hand around leaked copies later. Not suprising they didn't feature on the presentation.

The council know that they only have to sit on the bench a little longer and take a bit of verbal from those that took the time to be at the meeting. Following that they will do what they always do, walk all over the ratepayers of this town. They are relying on apathy to win every battle. Wake up folks, it's you next. They've been in power too long. They are getting stale. Past their sell by dates. Time for a change before they land us with more white elephants and the bills that always follow.
It's not even half a million. This is some strange figure that the council have come up with. Time after time it has been challenged and time after time the council have failed to respond, even in open meetings. The actual figure is much less and when you look at the difference between the cost of a new building and keeping the old one open, it makes no sense at all. All the ratepayers of Darlington will pay for the new building, so where is the logic ? It would seem that the council have a hidden agenda here. Maybe the one that looks like they are selling off every bit of land they own that is suitable for housing, regardless of what is currently on the site. The existing buildings have to be replaced and we pay the bill. Maybe the people of Darlington should look at the real costs being incurred on their behalf. There is something very sick in this town. It's not the place it was. Bill Dixon said last night that it was not the best job he'd ever had, but someone had to do it. If you can't stand the heat, Bill, you know what to do. We were also shown a Pie Chart of costs. Oddly enough, I didn't see any figures for wages or expenses on the chart, though someone did hand around leaked copies later. Not suprising they didn't feature on the presentation. The council know that they only have to sit on the bench a little longer and take a bit of verbal from those that took the time to be at the meeting. Following that they will do what they always do, walk all over the ratepayers of this town. They are relying on apathy to win every battle. Wake up folks, it's you next. They've been in power too long. They are getting stale. Past their sell by dates. Time for a change before they land us with more white elephants and the bills that always follow. Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

7:18pm Thu 23 Feb 12

Spy Boy says...

http://www.communiti
es.gov.uk/localgover
nment/decentralisati
on/localismbill/

This is the reason why the council are so desparate to get the place shut down. The Localsim Act should curb their little tricks.

Keeping the old Arts Centre will save you all money in the long run.

I was there last night and nothing they said has any merit at all. Leave the arts to those who take part and stop trying to dictate to us all the time. If it's a fight you're wanting . . . . . . .
http://www.communiti es.gov.uk/localgover nment/decentralisati on/localismbill/ This is the reason why the council are so desparate to get the place shut down. The Localsim Act should curb their little tricks. Keeping the old Arts Centre will save you all money in the long run. I was there last night and nothing they said has any merit at all. Leave the arts to those who take part and stop trying to dictate to us all the time. If it's a fight you're wanting . . . . . . . Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

10:09am Fri 24 Feb 12

jewitt says...

You get the Arts Centre you deserve. Nobody uses it, sadly. I went to a couple of excellent events there.
You get the Arts Centre you deserve. Nobody uses it, sadly. I went to a couple of excellent events there. jewitt
  • Score: 0

8:16pm Tue 28 Feb 12

Spy Boy says...

I use it all the time Jewitt and It's busy a lot of the time that I'm there. Your post says it's empty, but you went to some good events there. Are you for it or against it ?

Some evenings it's packed, despite all that the council have been able to do to reduce parking and sour the milk for users. They even closed it Sundays which could have been a good little earner for some events. There are a couple of quieter nights, especially since DBC decided to move all the events to the back end of the week.

Unfortunately, when you get a bunch of ignorant people at the helm you get major problems.

The Arts Centre is a huge asset for the town if it was handled well, as it used to be when the council were not allowed to sell it. As soon as they were allowed to sell it off, it went under the hammer. Sick, or what.
I use it all the time Jewitt and It's busy a lot of the time that I'm there. Your post says it's empty, but you went to some good events there. Are you for it or against it ? Some evenings it's packed, despite all that the council have been able to do to reduce parking and sour the milk for users. They even closed it Sundays which could have been a good little earner for some events. There are a couple of quieter nights, especially since DBC decided to move all the events to the back end of the week. Unfortunately, when you get a bunch of ignorant people at the helm you get major problems. The Arts Centre is a huge asset for the town if it was handled well, as it used to be when the council were not allowed to sell it. As soon as they were allowed to sell it off, it went under the hammer. Sick, or what. Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

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