Untold Stories Commission

“For many years people in communities like ours have thought that art isn’t for them and that nobody cares about their stories – we changed that.”

– Rona Hardy, Community Champion

  1. Introduction

East Durham Creates in partnership with their Community would like to commission an artist, creative practitioner or organisation to work with local people on a project titled ‘Untold Stories’ – a commission to co-create and capture the word of mouth stories and tales of community members who feel their stories are often overlooked.

About East Durham Creates

East Durham Creates is a Creative People and Places project funded by Arts Council England and was established by a small consortium of organisation based in County Durham in 2014. The Consortium was initially led by Beamish Museum and included local VCS organisation and charity East Durham Trust, Durham County Council’s Culture, Sport and Tourism and East Durham Area Action Partnership. The project specifically focussed on the East of the county as an area with limited arts infrastructure and since it was established has engaged more than 120,000 local people in creating and leading cultural experience by, for and with the local community.

In 2018 East Durham Trust became the lead and a process of ‘artification’ of a non-arts organisation began, utilising the traditional crisis interventions and established community networks of the Trust to truly embed cultural provision locally.

East Durham Creates has a history of delivering truly community led largescale commissions – this has included:

  • ‘Everything There Ever Was’ led by Unfolding Theatre which brought stories and crowds back to the former holiday destination turned nature reserve Crimdon Dene.
  • Sally Southern and Nicola Lynch’s ‘If These Walls Could Talk’ which transformed bus shelters in Horden into installations and performance spaces inspired by the everyday magic of people’s lives and rooms working with over 500 local older adults.
  1. The Commission

We are looking to engage a creative practitioner, artist or organisation to co-create an artistic response on the theme of gathering and presenting untold stories. These can be every day stories that people want to share or big stories that they have never had the chance to tell. This can take a variety of formats whether that is a theatre performance, a visual piece of art, storytelling sessions, digital response, sound recordings etc. The key is for the final work to be co-created with local people and presented in an accessible way.

The Community Panel are keen to ensure that the final piece reaches a range of communities in East Durham and that it can be delivered in a Covid-safe way should that be a factor. This may mean the creation of an outdoor event, an arts trail, digital response or working with our established network of Cultural Hubs as performance spaces.

The East Durham Creates team will work with the successful artist / organisation and support the booking of venues, marketing and promotion of the sessions and the project in general. The contract and payments will be done through East Durham Creates’ lead body – East Durham Trust.

The Community Panel are particularly interested in applications from County Durham based artists / organisations.

  1. Commission Budget

£15,000 in total.

We expect the appointed artist or organisation to deliver a minimum of 24 days’ worth of engagement sessions with local communities (based on 1 day a week or 2 half days) between March and August 2022.

The remaining budget should include travel, materials, planning/prep time, VAT and any other expenses as well as costs associated with the final outcome delivery. For example a number of performances in different locations within the area, creation of a visual art outcome or the facilitation of a number of walks along a trail.

We would also expect the commissioned artist / organisation to factor in any community costs e.g. room hire and refreshments where applicable.

East Durham Creates will provide marketing and publicity support, as well as links in to established community groups in the local area.

  1. Specification

Through this commission, we hope to achieve:

  • High quality, ambitious engagement with participants, creating work with a strong artistic integrity.
  • Projects with a strong connection to our communities, capturing untold every day stories: responding to everyday realities, places, people, histories and hopes.
  • An opportunity for local people to help co-create, take the lead in and ultimately be involved with cultural opportunities that they have not had previously.
  • Innovative approaches to building relationships and engaging with communities like ours.
  1. Timeline
  • Commission launched Tuesday December 21st 2021
  • Deadline for Submissions Monday January 24th 2022 at 5pm. Submissions to be electronically emailed to jess.hunt@eastdurhamcreates.co.uk
  • Shortlisted artists / organisations will be interviewed w/c 31st January 2022.
  • Commission commences from February 2022 with engagement work starting in March 2022.
  • Delivery of final outcome should take place by September 2022 at latest.

To apply please send the following in either:

1) a single PDF document or

2) a video sent via WeTransfer or a Dropbox link and should be a maximum of three minutes to jess.hunt@eastdurhamcreates.co.uk including the reference: EDC Untold Stories Commission

Please describe your idea and approach to this Commission (max 1000 words) include the following:

  • Your core artistic idea and how this idea demonstrates ambition and innovation – for participants, for audiences;
  • How this idea has relevance to the people, history, context and geography of the area;
  • Please give a brief biography (max 200 words) of your work and for any other artists that will be involved with you in this commission
  • Please attach a proposed timeline (include the contact days/workshops with the participants, planning, evaluation and visits) and include contingency should delivery be required to change.
  • Please attach a detailed budget
  • Please confirm that you have Public Liability Insurance cover of up to £5 million. An enhanced DBS clearance will need to be in place.

Please also send us a completed Equal Opportunities Form, using this link:


  1. Selection

Through the application process we will assess the following:

  • Quality and ambition of the artistic approach
  • Quality of approach to engagement with participants and your track record in this
  • Feasibility and deliverability particularly in light of potential Covid-19 restrictions
  • Value for money

Only shortlisted artists will be invited to interview. Shortlisting and interviews will include representatives from our Community Panel.

  1. Contact details

For further information, or to discuss a potential proposal, please contact East Durham Creates. Email: jess.hunt@eastdurhamcreates.co.uk

Please note that, the office will be closed Wednesday 22nd December 2021 – Tuesday 4 January 2022

An additional small commission has also been designed to work specifically with men on the same theme. This creative output may feed into this commission and artists / organisations may apply for both if they feel it is appropriate.

Full brief available for download here:

Untold Stories Commission (Word)

Untold Stories Commission (PDF)

Categories: News