During lockdown, our Cultural Hubs programme, which normally oversees seven local community centres, adapted to allow their local communities to continue to access great art and culture. Examples ranged from creative packs thought up by artists being available to collect from their centres to workshops being delivered over the phone or through the post. Check out below some of the fantastic work that some of the cultural hubs led during this difficult time.

Blackhall Legacy Window with Stu Langley

Blackhall Community Centre worked with artist Stu Langley (who you may recall made a wave at Durham Lumiere in the past) to create art packs for the community and asked people within the village to design an image that encompassed what lockdown had meant for them. Stu then worked with volunteers from the centre to think up a design that would bring together everyone’s imagery to create the incredible legacy window, shown below.

Blackhall Community Centre Legacy Window

Dawdon Life in Lockdown Animation

Dawdon Youth Hub created an exciting project for young and old, focused on animation. This included free activity packs being delivered to participants to enable them to take part, alongside online sessions. These sessions focused on creating animations that would reflect ‘Your Life in Lockdown’ as although we all experienced similar restrictions, the impact, thoughts and feelings that came with lockdown varied from person to person.

Jo Howell Photography Boxes Moment in Time project with Trimdon Station

Trimdon Station Community Centre worked with photographer Jo Howell to create photography activity packs for people in the local area. The project was organised by two young people from the Community Centre working alongside Jo and East Durham Creates.

In the first week, 35 photography packs were delivered and included cans of coke, thread, needles, sewing hoops and photography paper. Can you guess what they were making? Cameras from the empty cans of Coke! Alongside the activity packs, each week Jo Howell hosted a mini get together on Zoom to show how to make the activity for the week, which also provided a great opportunity to check in with one another.

Shotton Art Packs with the Barn at Easington

Shotton Community Hub worked with local artist Nicola Balfour from The Barn at Easington to create art packs for the local community during the lockdown.

The art packs offered fun and entertaining activities for children (and adults) to take part in and were very enthusiastically embraced by the local community. Alongside the art packs, Shotton Community Hub was also delivering meals and refreshments to the community.

Eastlea Inside Story Zine with Theresa Easton

Eastlea Community Centre launched the Inside Story project to document how lockdown and such a huge change in our lifestyles affected all the members of the community.

With East Durham Creates and print artist Theresa Easton, Eastlea Community Centre asked people to tell us exactly what the new conditions meant to them. They were overwhelmed by the response and creativity that the community showed, using words, pictures, and collages to express how altered the world they live in has become. These were collected into a “zine” – a self-published magazine – called Inside Story. Those who took part also produced their own personal zines and together, they tell the story that the history books won’t record – the frustrations, the worries and disappointments, the hopes and the humour, and the adjustment to a new way of living.  You can check out the Zine collection, here.

Greenhills Theatre in a Box with Ruth Mary Johnson

Greenhills Centre alongside Ruth Mary Johnson created theatre themed art packs with their “Play in a Box”. The box provided the opportunity for participants to create their own characters, tell their own stories, as well as coming with videos on how to build a box theatre, set scenes, and create characters.  Greenhills was met with a lot of enthusiasm from the community for this project, and it was incredible to see so many photos of the wonderful theatre creations that families and households had made. 

Horden in Bloom with Sally Southern

The people of Horden worked with artist Sally Southern (one half of the artistic duo behind ‘If These Walls Could Talk’). Horden in Bloom was a project that called on individuals to use the free art packs available to create a beautiful image that could be placed in their windows and cheer up the street.  Participants designed their image of flowers in bloom, which was then laminated and returned to them to place in their window. The pieces were then all displayed together at the Welfare Park in Horden. 


Cultural Hub Small Commissions

East Durham Creates facilitated six small commissions designed and hosted by our Cultural Hubs network.  A longstanding strand of our delivery Cultural Hubs is community venues that continue to support a programme of arts and culture. These community spaces now see the value of arts and culture for their local communities and their knowledge of their localities ensures that delivery is shaped to best fit the community.

Prior to Covid-19 the Cultural Hubs primarily focused on programming regular performances within their centres but adapted to a new model of small commissions when lockdown hit, allowing them to design provisions that suited their localities needs and worked with the rest of their hubs delivery.

Blackhall Community Centre 

Blackhall Community Centre decided to connect with local sheltered housing near their community centre.  They also programmed a pop-up concert with Runaway Samba that people could engage with from their doorsteps or in a safe socially distant way in the street.

Dawdon Youth and Community Centre 

Dawdon Youth and Community Centre were one of three Hubs who decided to work with County Durham based arts organisation Daisy Arts CIC running two sessions that explored the challenges and connections that had kept young people going during COVID resulting in a large scale jigsaw work of art which was then displayed in the centre.

Eastlea Community Centre 

Eastlea Community Centre moved to providing sessions remotely, with no sessions still happening within the centre. They designed a clay art pack with Daisy Art CIC to go to their Cree mental health support groups. The packs included materials to make plaques and hanging ornaments that could be hung together in the outside space once in-person sessions began again.

Greenhills Centre 

Greenhills Centre remained closed however they utilised their meals on wheels delivery to connect with socially isolated older adults and housebound individuals. Greenhills worked together with artist Ruth Mary Johnson who designed and delivered a letter-writing project, sharing care packages with individuals who decided to write back that included treats like biscuits.

Shotton Community Hub 

Shotton Community Hub worked with Daisy Arts CIC to design cultural wellbeing packs that were distributed alongside hot meals to older isolated adults. They also facilitated Dasiy Arts CIC hosting their first in-person session for their Cree group, many of whom rely on the group to maintain their mental health.

Trimdon Community Centre 

Trimdon Station worked with artist and photographer Jo Howell whom they had established a relationship during their lockdown project. Jo provided photography packs linked to a project Discover Brightwater with the hope that in the future participants could take part in a Go & See to visit the art trial.