THE new boss of one of the region's most popular theatres has pledged to spearhead a £1m arts revival.

Lindsay Tuck, a marketing expert, was appointed to the post of Darlington's head of arts after a year-long search.

The former head of Darlington Arts, Peter Cutchie, left in December 2001 and started a period where the authority operated without three key arts professionals - the other two being visual arts officer and arts press officer.

Ms Tuck, who comes from Rowlands Gill, near Gateshead, joins Wendy Scott, full-time visual and public arts officer, and recently-appointed press officer Kathryn Goodfellow, as a new-look department which will now be involved in leisure and arts projects across the borough.

She came to the attention of borough council bosses last year by helping to create the area's cultural strategy and said of the lengthy search for a head of arts: "What has been good about not having a head of arts for a year is that everybody has had to share responsibility and there is a fantastic team spirit.

"People have learnt a lot about other's areas of expertise and they can see the potential for crossover in work. There's a real buzz here.

"Writing the local cultural strategy has allowed us to understand the opportunities that the arts can give other departments. I think it has been useful in a way and a good progression to where we are now. We feel we are on a springboard now."

She says her £1m budget, much of which will underpin Darlington's successful Civic Theatre and Arts Centre programmes, "is the first time in a long while the council has put that much money into the arts"