In 2014 East Durham Creates was funded by Arts Council England as part of its Creative People and Places (CPP) programme – which is all about more people choosing, creating and taking part in brilliant art experiences in the places where they live. East Durham Creates is one of 30 independent CPP projects. Each project is completely unique to its area and residents, testing how to grow arts provision in ways that are sustainable and can last.

The East Durham Creates team is based at East Durham Trust in Peterlee and managed by a group of partners – East Durham Trust, Beamish Museum, East Durham Area Action Partnership and Culture and Sport, Durham County Council.

What’s happened so far?

Over the past six years, we’ve tried lots of different things by experimenting, taking risks, listening, and making changes as we go – something which we couldn’t have done without the growing support and trust from local people.

It’s been interesting and rewarding for all of us involved. Here’s a quick look at some of the things you’ve helped us to do so far…

  • Over 27,500 people experiencing the arts – around 1,500 hours of events and activities and 400 volunteers involved.
  • Local young people organised and staged events with professional artists and performers in local venues during the ‘No More Nowt Happens’ project, with almost 100 young people were involved in the project and some attendance numbers reaching over 120 people.
  • Commissioned If These Walls Could Talk an art exhibition inspired by everyday home life across East Durham, particularly older people at risk of isolation. The event achieved an estimated 5,900 visitors and over 109,659 digital engagements, with a total of 48 volunteers kindly donating 173 hours of time to the event.
  • Marked five decades of the Sunny Blunts Estate and the anniversary of the moon landing, with an installation by Steve Messam, Zine workshops led by Theresa Easton (over 474 participants took part in over 26 workshops) and celebrations within the community including a light installation and music by Barry Hyde from The Futureheads.
  • Developed a Covid-19 response that offered alternate activities to in-person events, still within the spirit of the project, as well as adapting our output to collaborate with East Durham Trust and Our Community Hub’s support and outreach programmes.
  • ‘Above Below Beyond’, co-produced by artist Jamie Holman and creative producer Alex Zawadzki, with the input of local people from East Durham, with 8 workshops taking place generating 124 learning experiences. The project focused on encouraging local pride in young people.
  • 2,500 people attending The Pirates of Crimdon Dene, testing how our beautiful coast can become a unique arts venue.
  • 5371 people attending over 5 hours of new arts activity through our 22 Let’s Create projects – led by and for local people.
  • Revamped the Cultural Hubs program to facilitate a wider range of arts events, including spoken word nights, bespoke theatre productions and outdoor theatre and dance performances.
  • ‘Neon and That’ in Dawdon Youth & Community Centre with artists Stuart Langley and Mick Stephenson. Over 80 young people from the centre created their own artwork and designed a special ‘Neon and That’ night.
  • Stories of Easington which celebrated the cultural heritage of East Durham, bringing the community together to showcase positive local stories from the past and present.
  • Creative Socials – a new and enjoyable way of taking part in arts through events showing local artistic talent and involving food with 1369 people 16 events led by and for local people.

What’s next?

We are absolutely delighted that Arts Council England is continuing to fund our work till 2021.  Our vision remains the same and by 2024 in collaboration with the community, we will have created the conditions for the arts to enrich the quality of life through cultural wellbeing and to encourage this creative output to be sustainable within the community.

We’re now working towards a long-term vision where by 2024, we will have created ways for the arts to contribute to the cultural wellbeing of our people and make a difference to our place.  During Phase 2 of East Durham Creates, we began to use the term ‘Artification’. This is a word we created, but we believe perfectly fits what we are hoping to accomplish within East Durham Trust and the wider communities.  ‘Artification’ focuses on how we are embedding arts and culture into the local area, and looking at how arts and culture can be utilised in conjunction with other in place infrastructures to transform the area and make art a part of everyday life.

What’s going to happen in phase three?

We’ve got a brand new 2021-2023 Creative Programme, with some points being continued or extended from Phase 1 and 2.  As always, nothing is set in stone and our community will take the lead on suggesting what works (and what doesn’t) and shaping how Phase 3 will work for you.

To make sure this investment delivers the very best for the area, our programme will be shaped by a series of principles and we will:

  • Make sure our work is shaped by and responds to local residents
  • Offer more opportunities for everyone to take part
  • Celebrate East Durham’s people and place
  • Further develop places where art can happen
  • Make the most of what we’ve got
  • Champion and grow local creative talent
  • Provide training and skills for people to take the lead
  • Build confidence in working with the arts
  • Be honest, open, listen and respond
  • Have a flexible approach and make changes when needed
  • Make sure everything we do is useful and makes a real, lasting difference to the area

As well as delivering activity here in East Durham we also have a responsibility to share our learning with the wider arts world in line with Arts Council England’s aim to bring Great Art for Everyone. This gives us a great chance to help make a difference in other places too!

Please contact us at stayintouch@eastdurhamcreates.co.uk or call 0191 518 5073 to talk to us.